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Dietrich v. JCI Institution

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 17, 2018

SAMUEL DIETRICH, Inmate Identification No. 423-732, Plaintiff,
v.
JCI INSTITUTION, CORPORAL CHRISTOPHER KIVYATU, LT. CARLYL, CAPTAIN STEVEN ROWLAND, SERGEANT ROBERT JORDAN and SERGEANT WAYNE MOONEY, Defendants.[1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE P. CHUANG, United States District Judge

         Samuel Dietrich, an inmate now confined at Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown, has filed a civil action against Jessup Correctional Institution ("JCI") and JCI correctional personnel Corporal Christopher Kivyatu, Lieutenant Carlyl, Captain Steven Rowland, Sergeant Robert Jordan, and Sergeant Wayne Mooney (collectively, the "Individual Defendants"). Dietrich states that on April 26, 2016, he was subjected to unsafe conditions of confinement, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, when a light fixture on the ceiling of his cell fell on him, causing injuries to his back and neck.

         All defendants have been served with the exception of Lt. Carlyl, who retired on April 1, 2017. The served defendants ("Defendants") have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment and have attached declarations from four Defendants, the Litigation Coordinator of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and the Executive Director of the Inmate Grievance Office. The Clerk informed Dietrich that, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), Dietrich had 17 days to file a memorandum in opposition to the Motion, and that if he failed to respond, summary judgment could be entered against him without further notice. Dietrich did not respond. Although the Court has learned that Dietrich was transferred out of JCI, Dietrich has not provided the Court with his new address, in violation of Local Rule 102.1(b)(iii). Although this violation is sufficient to warrant dismissal of the Complaint, the Court will nevertheless address the merits of Dietrich's allegations.

         Upon review of the submitted materials, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 26, 2016, Dietrich was housed in the Disciplinary Segregation Unit, B-Building, C-Wing of JCI. At approximately 10:00 a.m., a ceiling light in Dietrich's cell broke and fell on Dietrich, hitting his neck and back and leaving him immobilized on the floor waiting for medical treatment. At 10:50 a.m., Defendant Wayne Mooney, one of the JCI correctional officers assigned to Dietrich's housing unit, observed Dietrich lying on the floor of his cell. Dietrich told Mooney that he could not move. Mooney then notified the JCI medical staff.

         The next day, on April 27, 2016, Dietrich filed an Administrative Remedy Procedure grievance ("ARP"), alleging that he injured by the light, that he "was left on the floor for over 30 min[utes] waiting on medical treatment, " and that JCI officials failed to notify his family. Compl. Ex. 1 at 7, ECF No. 1-1.[2] On May 31, 2016, the Institutional ARP Coordinator dismissed the ARP for procedural reasons, on the grounds that additional information was needed to process the grievance. On June 13, 2016, Dietrich appealed this decision to the Maryland Commissioner of Correction, but the Commissioner "was unable to determine [Dietrichs] intent" and rejected the appeal on June 30, 2016. Id. at 11. Dietrich never appealed this decision to the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO").

         Dietrich filed separate ARPs on April 28, 2016, June 3, 2016, and June 17, 2016, alleging similar claims stemming from this incident, two of which were rejected on procedural grounds. On June 13, 2016, Dietrich wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Correction, stating that he was including "every ARP that I put in regarding this matter and every one they fail[e]d to answer any of them." Compl. Ex. 1 at 1, ECF No. 1-1. It is unclear what ARPs were attached to this letter, or even if it was actually delivered to the Commissioner of Correction. The IGO has no record that any of the ARPs were appealed to the IGO.

         On January 17, 2017, Dietrich filed this Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Complaint alleges that JCI subjected Dietrich to unsafe conditions, that Defendants ignored his complaints about those conditions, and that he was injured as a result of Defendants' negligence. Dietrich further alleges that he was offered video games in exchange for not pursuing his grievances. Dietrich seeks an unspecified amount in compensation for his injuries.

         DISCUSSION

         In their Motion, Defendants seek dismissal of the Complaint or summary judgment in their favor on several grounds, including that: (1) JCI is not an subject to suit under § 1983; (2) the Individual Defendants are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity for claims in their official capacity; (3) Dietrich failed to exhaust available administrative remedies; and (4) Dietrich fails to state a plausible Eighth Amendment claim.

         I. Legal Standard

         Because Defendants have submitted evidence for the Court's review, and because Dietrich has not requested an opportunity for discovery, the Motion is construed as a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003).

         The nonmoving party has the burden to show a genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushtta Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute of material fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Id. at 248-49. If "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, " then a dispute of material fact precludes summary judgment. Id. at 248; see Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 333 (4th Cir. 2013). However, summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence "is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Ander ...


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