Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Palya v. Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 11, 2018

MICHAEL P. PALYA, Jr., #359864 Plaintiff
v.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, WARDEN J. PHILIP MORGAN, STATE OF MARYLAND, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paula Xinis United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is self-represented Plaintiff Michael P. Palya's Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Complaint, ECF No. 1. Defendants, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”), Warden J. Philip Morgan and the State of Maryland, by their counsel, filed an unopposed Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No.14.[1]

         The matter is ready for disposition and the Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no hearing is necessary. For reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss IS GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Palya claims that he was subjected to “inhumane and untenable living conditions” at the Maryland Correctional Training Center (“MCTC”) from November 1, 2015 through December 9, 2015. Palya asserts that the heat at MCTC was not working and that a windowpane was missing from his cell window. As a result, he alleges that he suffered frostbite in his hands and feet, breathing problems, emotional anguish, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. ECF No. 1 at 6-7.

         Palya states that he “summoned several correctional officers in what proved to be futile attempts to correct the deplorable and inhumane living conditions.”[2] Id. at 5. Palya states these conditions led to a “riot” on December 9, 2015, after which Captain Lochman ordered mobile heaters set up on the tier and Officer Musher distributed plastic bags and cardboard to fashion make-shift window coverings. Id. at 6. Further, Palya alleges that Defendants removed several toilets in the housing unit, which caused raw sewage to leak into the housing units, compounding the health hazards. He asserts that due to the heating failure and delay in medical treatment, as of July 26, 2016, he was diagnosed as “frost bite damaged.” Id. at 7.

         Palya asks the Court to find Defendants' actions amount to willful and gross negligence. As relief, Palya asks for medical care for the rest of his life, compensation for lost wages, and damages in the amount of $2, 500, 000. Id. at 7.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In 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.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011); see Hall v. DirectTV, LLC, 846 F.3d 757, 765 (4th Cir. 2017). Further, a pro se plaintiff's 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); see Alley v. Yadkin County Sheriff Dept., No. 17-1249, 698 Fed .Appx. 141, 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.

         The Supreme Court of the United States explained a “plaintiff's obligation to provide the “grounds” of his “entitlement to relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Nonetheless, the complaint does not need “detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 555. Instead, “once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Id. at 563. To survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -- but it has not ‘show[n]' -- ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         “[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 (citing Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d, 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994)) (once a claim for relief has been stated, a plaintiff ‘receives the benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint').

         DISCUSSION

         To proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of a federal constitutional right or a right secured by federal law. Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 140 (1979). Further, the plaintiff must “show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). As a threshold matter, Palya does not allege Defendants' actions violated federal or state law. His claims of willful and gross negligence are causes of action arising under state, not federal, law. Even if Palya's claims were liberally construed to state an Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement, however, the claims must be dismissed on the grounds of Eleventh Amendment immunity and because respondeat superior does not apply in §1983 actions.

         A. Eleventh ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.