United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff James Alphonzo Reid is incarcerated at North Branch
Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. Pending is
his Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. S1983, which
presents Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims. (Complaint,
ECF No. 1). Defendants, the Secretary of Department of Public
Safety and Correctional Services ("Secretary of the
DPSCS"), Correctional Officer II Gordon Ullery and
Correctional Officer II John Yailder, by their counsel, move
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss the Complaint
or, in the alternative, move pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 for
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 16). Reid has filed a Response in
opposition. (ECF No. 26). Also pending is Reid's Motion
to Subpoena Video Footage. (ECF No. 25).
considered the pleadings and supporting documents, this Court
finds a hearing is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, the Motion to
Subpoena Video Footage IS DENIED. Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
16) IS GRANTED.
presents claims arising from his stabbing on June 21, 2016,
and seeks damages in the amount of $350, 000. (ECF No. 1).
Reid describes the stabbing incident as follows. He was
eating his dinner in prison chow hall #1, when a security
code was called. Officers Ullery and Yailder, who were
supervising the chow hall, "ran out to assist the
code." ECF NO.3. Ullery and Yailder left the chow hall
and closed the doors for about five minutes. Ullery and
Yailder then returned, opened the doors, and stood outside
the chow hal1. Reid states that "[o]ut of know
where" [sic], another inmate ran up behind Reid and
stabbed him in his neck, back, armpits, and arm. Id.
at 3. "It happened so fast, I jumped up looking to see
was there any officer's [sic] that could assist me and
there was none, I couldn't see who stabbed me, I could
only see a[n] image of the guy that stabbed me in front of me
holding a knife...." Id. To protect himself,
Reid grabbed a meal tray from the table and swung it at his
assailant. Reid asserts he stood trying to protect himself
for about three minutes. Id. at 4. As Reid and his
attacker stood on opposite sides of a dining table,
"[t]he officer with the glasses ran behind me and told
me to get down on the chow hall #1 floor [while] the man that
stabbed [me] was standing there with a knife in his
hand." Id. at 4. Reid remained standing because
he was afraid the inmate with the knife would continue the
attack. Id. at 4. Reid maintains he raised his hands
in the air and slowly turned around while explaining to the
officers that he was the stabbing victim. Id. When
Reed turned around, the officer "with the glasses,
" who he identifies as Ullery, sprayed his face with
pepper spray. Mat 4, 7.
claims Ullery and Yailder should have been in the chow hall
supervising the inmates when the attack occurred. ECF NO.5.
Reid claims that by using pepper spray on him, Ullery placed
him in greater danger because the inmate who stabbed him had
not been subdued. Id. at 4. Further, Reid avers that
had "the administration" placed him and every other
member of the Bloods, a prison gang, on administrative
segregation after another inmate, Gregory Tilghman and others
Blood members were assaulted on June 4, 2016, Reid would not
have been stabbed. Id. at 6; see also
Plaintiffs Opposition ECF No. 26 at 12.
claims the officers wrote a "false report" charging
him with violating Inmate Rule #102 (assault on inmate) and
Rule # 400 (disobeying an order). Id. at 5. Pending
a hearing on the rule violations, Reid was placed in
administrative segregation. Id. at 6. Reid claims
this placement on administrative segregation constituted
cruel and unusual punishment.. Id. A hearing officer
later found Reid not guilty of the charges after determining
that he was attacked by inmate Arnold and was the victim of
the assault. Id; see also Inmate Hearing Record, ECF
No. 16-3 at 34-36, 3..
exhibits include declarations executed by Officers Ullery and
Yailder, and other verified records including the Serious
Incident Report, the Intelligence and Investigative Division
("IID") Report, Use of Force Reports, the Notice of
Inmate Rule Violations signed by Reid, and a DVD recording of
the incident. ECF 16-1, 16-2, and 16-3. Reid viewed a copy of
the DVD on August 3, 2017. Declaration of Randy Durst,
Correctional Case Manager, ECF No. 19. In his opposition,
claims the DVD recording of the incident was altered. ECF No.
26 at 8. He avers the video shows the incident out of order.
Specifically, Reid asserts the video fails to show the
inmates walking in the chow line, the earlier called security
code, Ullery and Yailder abandoning their posts in chow hall
#1, or Ullery and Yailder returning to the chow hall after
the code. Id. Reid also disputes Ulleryss assertion
that he ordered him to stop fighting before he used pepper
spray on Reid's face. Id. at 9-10.
exhibits provide a different account of the June 21, 2016
incident. Officers Ullery and Yailder were in the chow hall
when Bobby Arnold and James Reid started fighting. Ullery and
Yailder responded immediately. Yailder called to the Master
Control Tower over the radio for staff assistance (a
"10-10 code" for fighting between inmates). Ullery
ordered the inmates to stop fighting, but neither complied.
Declaration of Gordon Ullery, ECF 16-2 at 2. Ullery then
sprayed Reid, the inmate in the altercation nearest to him.
Reid complied, laid on the floor, and was handcuffed. Yailder
also was exposed to the pepper spray and left the area.
Ullery Decl., Id. at 2-3, Declaration of John
Yailder, ECF No. 16-2 at 4-5.
Bobby Arnold refused to stop fighting and started punching
inmate Larmar Sampson. Ullery ordered them to stop, but
neither inmate complied. Additional corrections officers
arrived. IID Report, ECF No. 16-3 at 7. After Yailder
deployed pepper spray to Sampson's face, Sampson
complied. Another officer administered pepper spray to subdue
Bobby Arnold, who was placed in hand restraints. Reid,
Sampson, and Arnold were taken to the medical department..
Reid was transported later that day to the Maryland Regional
Medical Center for treatment of his wounds, and released to
the prison infirmary several hours later. ECF No. 16-3 at 45.
Reid, Sampson and Arnold were placed in administration
segregation pending an adjustment hearing. Id. at 5.
Reid received a Notice of Inmate Rule Violation on June 21,
2016, charging him with violating Rules 102 and 400. Reid
refused to sign for receipt of the Notice. Id. at
33. The adjustment hearing was held one month later on July
21, 206.. ECF No. 16-3.
and Yailder attest to having no advance warning that a fight
was going to occur between Reid and Arnold. Further, Ullery
and Yailder deny ignoring a threat to Reid or any inmate
present during the fight. Ullery states he did not
deliberately place Reid in danger and was present from the
beginning of the incident to the time it was brought under
control by corrections staff. Yailder states that he did not
deliberately placed Reid in danger. Yailder was present at
the beginning of the altercation until he had to leave the
area due to pepper spray exposure. Ullery and Yailder deny
filing a false report concerning the incident. ECF No. 16-2
dining hall was secured and searched. Correctional staff
discovered a homemade weapon: a six inch piece of raw metal
that was sharpened to a point at one end with the other end
wrapped with gauze and tape. (ECF No. 16-3 at 6, 8).
Reid's enemy list contained no known enemies prior to the
attack. ECF No. 16-1 at 5. After the stabbing, Arnold was
placed on Reid's enemy list. Id.
investigation included reviewing the staff reports and video
footage of the incident. The ensuing investigation report concluded
that correctional staff had acted in accordance with policies
and procedures. Id. at 33.
MOTION TO DISMISS
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of
a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of Rule
12(b)(6) is "to test the sufficiency of a complaint and
not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of
a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Presley
v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006). To satisfy Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint need not include
"detailed factual allegations." Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). However, a plaintiff
must plead more than bald accusations or mere speculation.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A complaint must set forth
"enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest"
a cognizable cause of action, "even if... [the] actual
proof of those facts is improbable and ... recovery is very
remote and unlikely." Id. at 556 (internal
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court” 'must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint' " and must" 'draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff " E.l. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v.
Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); Hall v. DirectTV, LLC, 846 F.3d
757, 765 (4th Cir. 2017). Further, a pro se plaintiffs
pleadings are "to be liberally construed" and are
"held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Alley v. Yadkin County Sheriff
Dept., No. 17-1249, ___ Fed.Appx.___,
2017 WL 4415771 (4th Cir. Oct. 5, 2017.. However, even a pro
se litigant's complaint must be dismissed if it does not
allege a "plausible claim for relief."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court
"shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A material fact is one that "might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd,718 F.3d 308, 333
(4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A genuine issue over a
material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When
considering a motion for summary judgment,, a judge's
function is ...