United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MS. CHARLES CANTER Plaintiff,
SGT. SCHOPI'ERT, et al., Defendants.
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is Sgt. Richard Schoppert. CO II
Brian Barrett. Warden Frank Bishop. Assistant Warden Jeff
Nines, Chief William Bohrer, Charlotte Zies. CO II .Fared
Zais, and Capt. Gregory Werner's (collectively.
"Defendants'"),  Motion to Dismiss or for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 33, in response to Plaintiff Charles
Canter's civil rights Complaint. A hearing on this motion
is unnecessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D, Md. 2016), For the
reasons that follow. Defendants' motion, construed as a
Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be denied in part and
granted in part.
Charles Canter is an inmate committed to the custody of the
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS)
and at all times relevant to the Complaint was confined to
North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI). ECF No. 19 at
Canter, who identifies as a transgender female. claims that, on
June 18. 2016. she was confined to Housing Unit One. C-tier.
ECF No. 1 at 4. When Canter's breakfast tray was
delivered to her cell, she realized it was not the meal she
was supposed to receive pursuant to her medical diet of 2,
400 calories per day. Canter asked Officers Crowe and Hill to
call Dietary Officer Pratt regarding the mistake.
Id. at 5.
complied with Canter's request and informed Canter that
Pratt was coming to Canter's cell to address the issue
with the breakfast tray. Upon being so informed. Canter
placed her breakfast tray "long ways" in the feed
up slot of the cell door to prevent the slot from being
closed, id. Crowe came to Canter's cell and
ordered her to take the tray out of the slot so that he could
close the feed-up slot. Canter refused and explained she
wanted to speak with the sergeant on duty. Crowe told Canter
that the sergeant "ain't gonna come down" and
Canter again refused to allow the slot to be closed,
Barrett then came to Canter's cell and ordered her to
close the feed-up slot. id. at 6. Canter refused and
Barrett allegedly responded, "fuck you no one's
gonna come and see you." Barrett then walked away from
the cell toward the "cage" that divides C-tier from
B-tier and grabbed a security shield, which he attempted to
pull through the doorway of the cage. id. Barrett
was unable to get the security shield through the doorway so
he walked in a different direction and obtained a smaller
security shield, which he placed on the outside of
Canter's cell door. Id.
latched the shield on the right side of Canter's door.
but could not latch the left side of the shield because the
sliding door for the feed-up slot was opened too far.
According to Canter. Barrett became angry and frustrated and
began kicking the shield. Barrett again told Canter to move
her hand and the tray, but Canter refused. Barrett then moved
the shield and kicked the sliding door three to five times,
"sharp[ly], " with extreme force. Id. at
8. As a result of Barrett's actions, the hard rubber food
tray bent and Canter's forearm, hand, and wrist were
caught between the feed-up slot door and the door frame.
Canter could not remove her hand from the slot and states
that the tray was "warped around my arm." cutting
off the blood circulation to her hand. Id.
cursed at Barrett for trapping her arm in the door and
demanded to see a Lieutenant so that she could Hie a claim
for use of excessive force against Barrett. Id. at
Canter claims that Barrett responded that Canter should not
have had her hand in the slot, smiled. and walked away.
Canter claims that her arm was left caught in the slot for
about twenty minutes before Hill returned to deliver a
brown-bag lunch to another inmate. Derrick Dirton.
Hill reached Dirton's cell, Dirton informed Hill that
Barrett smashed Canter's hand in the feed-up slot and
stated that Canter needed medical attention. Id.
Hill came to Canter's door, saw her hand smashed in the
slot, and attempted to open the slider so that Canter could
remove her hand. Hill could not open the sliding feed-up door
because Barrett had damaged it when he kicked the door. Hill
told Canter he would go get the Sergeant and walked away.
minutes after Hill left. Defendants Schoppert and Barrett
arrived at Canter's door. Id. at 7. 9. They
observed Canter's arm smashed with the tray and saw that
Canter's hand was turning purple. Canter claims that
Schoppert defended Barrett and said that Barrett would not
violate policies and procedures as Canter had claimed.
Id. at 9. Barrett also denied kicking the slot
closed onto Canter's arm. Schoppert asked Canter what
injuries she sustained and Canter showed him her left arm
which was bruised and had an impression of the food tray on
it. Canter then requested that she be given medical
attention, allowed to write a statement regarding the
incident, and allowed to speak with a supervisor,
claims that Schoppert denied all of her requests and, in
response, the entire tier held their feed-up slots open so
that Canter would be provided medical attention. In addition.
Canter covered her cell window in protest. Id. at 9.
was examined by a registered nurse who determined that
Canto's left arm. wrist, hand, forearm, and fingers were
bruised both internally and externally. The nurse provided
Canter with an Ace bandage and instructed Canter to use it
for seven days and to put in a sick call slip to be seen
again if the injuries did not improve. Id. at 10.
Canter was subsequently informed by Warner that the matter
had been referred to the Internal Investigation Division
(IID) for the purpose of determining whether criminal charges
would be filed. Id. at 11-12.
22. 2016. Canter alleges that Officer Zies came to her cell
door to discuss an administrative remedy procedure complaint
(ARP) and asked "what we can do about this."
referring to the ARP. Canter told Zies there was nothing that
could be done because she wanted "both Defendants
charged with assault and neglect." Zies responded he
would process the ARP and the complaint was dismissed the
same day because the matter had been referred to I
Id. id. at 12.
25, 2016. Canter claims that she was interviewed by I ID
Detective Sergeant Chris Burton. Canter states she provided
two affidavits to Burton from inmate witnesses who observed
the incident and told Burton he should speak with them, but
that Burton never did so. id. at 12-13. Canter also
provided Burton with a copy of the ARP. sick call slips, and
request slips and asked Burton to review the surveillance
video from the tier cameras. Burton assured Canter that the
video footage would be provided to him on CD Rom for his
review. Id. Canter then asked Burton to conduct
polygraph tests on Barrett. Schoppert. and Canter herself.
Id. at 13. Burton told Canter that polygraph tests
were unnecessary "because the evidence supported
[Canter's] sequence of events." Burton then asked
Canter to state for the record whether she wanted to pursue
criminal charges. Id. Canter claims that Burton saw
her injuries and assured her that the case would be presented
to the State's Attorney for Allegany County who would
decide if criminal charges would be pursued. Canter informed
Burton that she was in fear for her life and safety. Burton
concluded the interview and Canter was taken back to her
provide a copy of IID's investigative report, which
summarizes Detective Chris Burton's investigation, and
states that the video surveillance was viewed by the
detective investigating the claim. ECF No. 33. The report
claims that the video confirms that Barrett kicked the door
closed, but it could neither be confirmed nor denied that
Canter's arm was in the slot at the time the door was
kicked. ECF No. 33-3 at 9. Burton interviewed several
individuals throughout his investigation. Barrett denied that
Canter's arm was in the slot at the time he closed it:
rather, he claimed that Canter was at the back of her cell
near the window attempting to incite other inmates to
protest. Id., Burton also interviewed Officers Crowe
and Hill. Id. at 8. Crowe stated that he never saw
Canter's arm stuck in the slot. Id. Burton noted
that the injury Canter received to her arm was a bruise, but
that medical staff could not determine the age of the bruise.
Id. at 9. 11-13 (medical report). 16 (photograph of
Canter's bruised wrist). Burton determined that the
injury sustained was inconsistent with Canter's account
of Barrett kicking the door closed on her arm. Id.
at 9. Based on this conclusion. Burton recommended the case
be closed without filing criminal charges against Barrett.
her injury. Canter alleges that retaliatory actions have been
taken against her for the 11 ling of the instant complaint
and names Warden Frank Bishop, Assistant Warden Jeff Nines.
Security Chief William Borher. Case Manager C. Zies, Officer
.tared Zias. and Intelligence Officer Werner as defendants.
BCF No. 19. Canter claims thai Defendants have used
intimidation, including the use of a jailhouse informant, to
convince her to drop the instant lawsuit, which was filed on
July 12. 2016. Specifically. Canter's complaint was
dismissed upon receipt of a voluntary dismissal received in
this case which Canter asserts she never filed. Sue
ECF No. 6. Canter claims that another inmate, at the behest
of Defendants Zies and Barrett, sent the voluntary dismissal
to the Court. ECF No. 19 at 5. Upon receipt of that
information, ECF No. 12, this Court reopened the
case. ECF No. 14. After an investigation into
the matter, officials at NBC I determined that the pleading
was written and tiled by inmate Walter Hall. ECF No. 18.
argue that Canter's Complaint fails to state claims, and
that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. ECF
No. 33-1. They further allege that Canter was not placed on
administrative segregation as form of retaliation, but
because she had enemies in the general population of NBCI
from whom she needed to be separated. ECF No. 33-1 at 1 8.
They assert that administrative segregation is not a form of
punishment as inmates so assigned still enjoy many privileges
similar to those in general population. Id.
12. 2016. Canter tiled the instant Complaint with the Court,
naming Burton. Schoppert and Barrett as defendants. ECF No.
1. On November 9. 2016. Canter filed an "Amendment
Complaint." ECF No. 19. in which she additionally named
Bishop. Nines. Bohrer. Zies. Werner and Zais as defendants.
Canter claims that Barrett used excessive force when he
kicked the slot door closed on her left arm in violation of
Canter's rights under the Eighth Amendment. She further
claims that Schoppert violated her Eighth Amendment rights
when he covered up the incident, refused to notify a
supervisor, and denied Canter medical attention for her
injury, Id. At 15-16.
further claims that this Court is permitting Defendants to
obstruct justice because they have not been forced to turn
over video surveillance of the prison tier where the initial
assault took place. ECF 19 at 6. Canter claims that
Defendants have refused to turn over the video surveillance
to the IID for purposes of criminal charges being filed
against Barrett and have refused to comply with the Order of
this Court to turn over the surveillance footage. Canter
claims that Barrett has threatened to beat her to death or
spray her with mace if she does not drop the matter regarding
criminal charges and the instant case. Id. at 9.
When Canter told Case Manager C. Zies about the threats. Zies
told her that there was nothing that could be done to protect
Canter unless Barrett assaults her and it is captured on
video. Id. at 8-9.
relief. Canter seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as
well as monetary damages. Canter additionally asks this Court
to watch the surveillance video from the tier camera and to
refer the matter to the ...