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George v. McDonough

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

August 17, 2017

TEHRON GEORGE, Plaintiff,
v.
MARY LOU MCDONOUGH, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Tehron George, an inmate at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility, brings this pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Defendants Warden Mary Lou McDonough. Dr. Mercedes Hernandez and Law Librarian B. McTernan for denying him access to the law library at Prince George's County Detention Center ("PGCDC"). denying him access to the grievance process, and placing him in an unclean cell after George went on a hunger strike. ECF No. 1. Defendants McDonough and McTernan have filed a Motion to Dismiss or alternatively for Summary Judgment. LCF No. 12. The Court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow. Defendants' Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be granted, and the claims against McDonough and McTernan are dismissed. Plaintiff shall be given the opportunity to amend his complaint against Defendant Hernandez.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff George is currently an inmate at the Central Mankind Correctional Facility in Sykesville. Maryland, where he has resided since at least October 2016.[1] While previously housed at PGCDC as a pre-trial detainee from July 2015 to August 2015 and from January 2016 to June 2016, George filed a self-represented civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking money damages against PGCDC Warden Mary Lou McDonough. Dr. Mercedes Hernandez, and Law Librarian 13. MeTernan. ECF No. 1. George states that during his first stay at PGCDC, on July 1. 2015. he was banned from using the library. Id. at 4. When George returned to PGCDC in January of 2016. the ban allegedly remained in effect, Id. George states that after his return. McTernan failed to provide copies of case law at his request, sending him "what she wants, sometimes nothing at all." Id. George further alleges that he was denied a grievance form until he began a hunger strike; and after initiating the hunger strike. George was stripped of his clothing and possessions, including his water cup. and placed in a dirty cell. Id. As a result. George was allegedly unable to drink water and could not participate in programs or work release. Id.

         A. Access to Library

         In support of his claim. George provides copies of his case law requests and responses from library personnel relating to his most recent contacts with library personnel. ECF No. 14-1. On February 8, 2016. library staff informed George that the "definitions you have asked for are in the civil law area, and we do not provide this information." Id. at 10. The note also informed George that staff does not provide copies from books, and suggested that George obtain the information requested from his attorney.[2] Id.

         George sent another request for case law on February 19, 2016. ECF No. 14-1 at 1.On February 23, 2016. "Law Library Staff' indicated that entire citations to cases were needed before they could provide the requested copy work. Id. at 9. A second request on February 26, 2016. received on March 2, 2016. elicited a response from Law Library staff indicating that George had provided insufficient information for them to find the requested cases, that his second request that week exceeded the ten case limit, and that one case was unrelated to George's criminal case, and thus presumably would not be provided. Id. at 8.

         On March 7, 2016. George again complained that he did not receive all the cases he requested. LCF No. 14-1 at 2. On March 10, 2016. Law Library Staff notified George that they had provided five of the ten items requested, but did not include the remaining copies because the subject matter was not relevant, or could not be found with the citation provided, Id. at 6. On April 25, 2016. George again requested copies of case law. Id. at 3.

         Two days later, on April 27, 2016. George complained that he had received nothing, despite three requests spanning three weeks. ECF No. 14-1 at 4. That same day, April 27, 2016, Law Library Staff informed George that the cases requested related to use of excessive force during arrest, a civil matter, and thus were not related to his current criminal ease. Id. at 7. Staff noted that the library "only providers] Maryland criminal legal information related to your current case.'' and that if George could explain how the material related to his current criminal case, it would be provided. Id. On June 9, 2016. George requested copies of the Civil Rights Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. several cases, and a copy of his court print-out. Id. at 5. The outcome of this request is not noted in the record.

         B. Access to Grievance Forms

         On February 29. 2016. George requested a grievance form. ECF No. 14-1 at 13. On March 9, 2016. Major Gamble responded that the first step in the grievance process is informal resolution, speaking with the housing unit officer or zone commander to discuss the problem, before requesting an Inmate Grievance Form. Id. The record does not indicate whether George filed additional formal requests for grievance forms prior to the time he began his hunger strike in April of 2016.

         C. Placement in Unclean Cell, Deprivation of Resources

         In his Complaint, George states he was stripped of clothing and possessions, including his drinking cup. and placed in a dirty cell after he initiated a hunger strike. ECF No. 1 at 4. His exhibits show that on April 11, 2016. Dr. Hernandez ordered George's placement on medical isolation in the special management housing area because he was on a hunger strike. ECF No. 14-1 at 11. That same day. George filed a grievance, expressing displeasure at being placed on suicide watch after initiating a hunger strike and complaining that he was being fed peanut butter three times a day with no fruit. ECF No. 12-1 at 1. He also stated that he was unfairly banned from the law library and denied the case copies he requested and access to books. ECF No. 12-1 at 1: ECF No. 14-1 at 12. Zone Commander Sgt. Godson investigated the grievance, and on April 11, 2016. Sgt. Godson indicated that 1) the food was nutritionally adequate. 2) policy dictated a detainee on a hunger strike be placed on medical isolation, and 3) the library would forward requested materials to him. ECF No. 14-1 at 12. The shift commander concurred with the findings on April 12, 2016. and on April 14, 2016. a Lieutenant determined that the grievance lacked merit, Id.

         D. ...


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