United States District Court, D. Maryland
MICHAEL E. DONATI, Prisoner Identification No. 407-613, Plaintiff,
CAPTAIN DRUMMOND, LT. JOSEPH, LT. MITCHELL, M. MUIR, Management Manager, K. ENDLICH, Manager Specialist, and SCOTT S. OAKLEY, Executive Director, Defendants.
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
February 14, 2016, self-represented Plaintiff Michael E.
Donati, then an inmate at Eastern Correctional Institution
("ECI") in Westover, Maryland, was attacked by his
cellmate. On March 24, 2016, Donati, having been transferred
to another part of the prison, was again attacked, this time
by his new cellmate. He now brings this civil action against
Defendants Captain Shytina Drummond; Lieutenant Wendy Joseph;
Lieutenant Matthew Mitchell; Correctional Case Management
Manager Mike Muir; Correctional Officer Karl Endlich; and
Scott S. Oakley, the Executive Director of the Inmate
Grievance Office, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. S 1983, alleging that
Defendants failed adequately to protect him from a known
threat to his health and safety, in violation of the Eighth
Amendment to the United States Constitution. Pending before
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, and a Motion to
Appoint Counsel filed by Donati. Having reviewed the
parties' submissions, the Court finds no hearing
necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the
reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART, and Donatiss Motion to Appoint
Counsel is GRANTED.
before February 10, 2016, Defendant Captain
("Capt") Shytina Drummond received an anonymous
letter stating that someone was planning to attack an inmate
named "Montana" because he had
"disrespected" a member of the Black Guerrilla
Family ("BGF"), a prison gang, by "jacking off
while his cellmate was asleep. Mot. Dismiss Ex. 2 - 3
(Drummond Decl.), ECF No. 17-4. Donatiss nickname is Montana.
At that time, Donati was housed in Unit 2, located on the
West Compound of ECI. Donati's cellmate was Lyndon
Pettiford, who, according to Capt. Drummond, was a suspected
member of the BGF, and, according to Donati, was a confirmed
member of the gang. On February 10, 2016, Capt. Drummond
summoned Donati to her office to inform him about the letter
and to conduct a cell-change interview. Although Capt.
Drummond told Donati about the contents of the letter, she
would not let him see it, because it contained information
unrelated to Donati, and she was concerned that its contents
would reveal the identity of the anonymous informant.
Drummond asked Donati about the allegations in the letter,
which Donati denied. Donati then explained that he had told
Pettiford to move out because Pettiford had been selling
drugs out of their shared cell. According to Capt. Drummond,
Donati stated that he was not in fear of his life. However,
according to Donati, who had not seen the letter, he told
Capt. Drummond that if she had information about a threat
against him, she should move him to another cell, but she
declined to do so. At the end of the interview, Capt.
Drummond instructed Donati to complete a "Statement of
Inmate" form and to sign a "Cell Change Interview
Record." On the Statement of Inmate form, the words
"I was told that I may be harmed if I stay in" are
crossed out and followed by the statement, "I feel safe
to stay in housing unit #2. Capt. Drummond informed me about
a threat made against me." Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 at 5
(Statement of Inmate), ECF No. 17-3. According to Donati,
Capt. Drummond forced him to cross out his first statement on
the form, then told him to write what she dictated. Donati
has asserted that Capt. Drummond warned him that if he did
not, there "would be consequence"" and he
would "learn not to mess with the BGF." Resp. Mot.
Dismiss ("Resp.") Ex. 1
¶¶ 3-4, 7 (Donati Aff), ECF No.
20-1. Capt. Drummond and Correctional Officer Ronald Mills,
who was present during the cell-change interview, have both
denied those allegations.
Cell Change Interview Record, Capt. Drummond checked
"no" for Donatiss responses to the questions,
"Have you been threatened?"" "Are you in
fear for your life?, " and "Have you been
assaulted?" In the "Action Taken" section of
the form, which contains three options, Capt. Drummond
selected the option, "Inmate ... was returned to his
cell. His reason did not merit a cell change, or there was no
documented threat to him." Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 at 6 (Cell
Change Interview Record). Both Capt. Drummond and Donati
signed the document. Capt. Drummond then forwarded a copy of
the anonymous letter, the Statement of Inmate, the Cell
Change Interview Record, and her notes to several other
prison officials, including Defendant Lieutenant
("Lt.") Wendy Joseph, who was the manager of Unit
returning to his cell, Donati wrote a letter to Lt. Joseph
asking to be transferred to another tier within Unit 2. Lt.
Joseph had been on vacation starting on February 6, 2016 and
continuing to February 21, 2016, so she never responded to
Donatiss letter. According to Donati, he had also previously
written to Lt. Joseph to complain about Pettiford's drug
dealing and gang involvement and to ask to be moved. Lt.
Joseph did not act on those letters because, in her
estimation, Donati had not provided her with enough
information to justify a cell reassignment.
morning of February 14, 2016, Pettiford attacked Donati from
behind by striking him in the head with a fan motor, causing
profuse bleeding and multiple head wounds, some of which
required stitches. According to Donati, Pettiford was later
convicted of second-degree assault as a result of the attack.
Once Donati was discharged from the prison medical facility,
he was temporally placed in administrative segregation
pending a meeting of the Administrative Segregation team.
That team, which included Defendant Correctional Officer
("CO.") Karl Endlich, met on February 17, 2016 and
determined that Donati should be moved to the ECI East
Compound, and that Donati and Pettiford should be listed as
"Keep Aparts." In accordance with prison policy,
that recommendation was forwarded to Defendant Correctional
Case Management Manager ("Case Manager") Mike Muir,
who approved it and forwarded it to the Warden for final
determination. Case Manager Muir made no decision on Donatiss
specific cell placement in the East Compound.
February 23, 206, Donati was reassigned to an East Compound
cell in Unit 7, where, he contends, a large number of BGF
members were housed. Defendants do not deny that Unit 7 had
BGF members, but they assert that Donati agreed that a
placement in the East Compound was suitable and that Donati
was placed on the C-tier of Unit 7, which housed no validated
BGF members. In response, Donati notes that residents of
different tiers, including of the neighboring D-tier where
many BGF members were housed, routinely came into contact at
meals, church, and the gym. Donati was placed in a cell with
Jason Hall, whom Donati contends was an "unflagged"
BGF member. Compl. Ex. 2 at 18 (2d ARP), ECF No. 1-3.
According to Donati, Defendant Lt. Matthew Mitchell, the
manager of Unit 7, made his specific cell assignment. Lt.
Mitchell denies that he decided on Donatiss specific cell
placement or had any knowledge of the February 10, 2016
threat before learning of Donatiss lawsuit. According to
Donati, however, after he was placed in a cell with Hall, he
wrote Lt. Mitchell at least a dozen letters asking to be
reassigned because Hall was a BGF member and had threatened
him, but no action was taken. Lt. Mitchell denies receiving
any such complaints.
March 24, 2016, Hall confronted Donati, asking whether Donati
had given a statement about the February 14, 2016 attack to
prison officials. When Donati refused to answer, Hall stabbed
him with a shank, leaving him with wounds to his head, back,
arms, and hand. Donati required stiches to close wounds over
his eye, behind his ear, and on his hand, and he needed 14
staples to close a wound on his head and another 14 staples
for a wound on his arm. After the attack, Donati was housed
first in the prison medical unit, then in administrative
segregation, before he was transferred to another prison in
July 2016. Donati asserts that Hall was later found guilty in
state court of a weapons-possession offense.
September 2016, a federal grand jury indicted 80 individuals
in relation to a smuggling ring inside ECI, including 18
correctional officers and 35 inmates. As relevant here, the
indictment alleged that correctional officers would order
retaliation against inmates who spoke up about the smuggling
ring or about the distribution of contraband in the prison.
Donati asserts that for years prior to the attacks on him, he
had written to newspapers and the FBI about drug distribution
and corruption at ECI.
filing internal grievances about both attacks through the
Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") and
exhausting all appeals of the denials of his grievances up to
and including to the Inmate Grievance Office
("IGO"), Donati filed suit in this Court asserting
that with respect to both the February and March 2016
attacks, Defendants failed to protect him from a known threat
to his health and safety, in violation of his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
Donati seeks declaratory and monetary relief. All Defendants
have been served with the Complaint with the exception of
Defendant Scott Oakley, the Executive Director of the IGO.
Defendants who have received service ("Defendants")
have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion
for Summary Judgment. In that Motion, they present three
bases for dismissal or summary judgment: (1) there is no
supervisory liability for S 1983 claims; (2) they are
entitled to qualified immunity; and (3) the evidence
demonstrates that they did not fail to ...