United States District Court, D. Maryland
TAVON P. SINGLETARY, Plaintiff
BRIAN G. IAMES, et al., Defendants
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
case arises out of an altercation at North Branch
Correctional Institution (“NBCI”), between
Plaintiff Tavon Singletary, an inmate, and two of the
institution's correctional officers. Compl. 3, ECF No. 1.
Plaintiff alleges that he was verbally harassed by
Correctional Officer Saville and pepper sprayed by Sergeant
Iames because he was holding open the food service pass slot
in his cell door. Id. at 4. After being pepper
sprayed, Plaintiff was taken to see medical personnel, where
he alleges that he received inadequate medical treatment.
Id. Plaintiff initiated this litigation pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged Eighth Amendment
violations. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in
the alternative, a Motion for Summary Judgment. Defs.'
Mot., ECF No. 22. Plaintiff has responded, ECF Nos. 27, 33,
34, and Defendants did not file a reply. Upon review of the
papers and exhibits filed, I have determined that a hearing
is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).
Having construed Defendants' motion as a Motion for
Summary Judgement and finding that no genuine dispute of
material fact exist regarding Plaintiff's claims, I will
grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and the
Clerk shall close the case.
January 22, 2015, Plaintiff held open the food service slot
to his cell door with his arm. Compl. 3; Verified R. 4, 6,
11, 24, 30, ECF No. 22-2. Sergeant Iames and Correctional
Officer Saville witnessed Plaintiff holding the food service
slot open and his cellmate, Ronnie Wimbush, tampering with
the cell's fire suppression sprinkler system.
Id. at 4, 6, 11. Plaintiff alleges that Correctional
Officer Saville stood by his cell door slot “licking
his lips towards Plaintiff and then stated ‘you black
ass nigga if the cell door was open ill f****ken kill you
b***h ass black nigga.'” Pl.'s Mem. 3, ECF No.
27-1; See also Verified R. at 23-24.
Sergeant Iames issued a warning to Wimbush to stop tampering
with the fire suppression system and for Plaintiff to close
the cell door slot. 24, 30. According to Wimbush, Sergeant
Iames “told my cellmate he has 3 seconds to close the
slot.” Verified R. at 30. Plaintiff did not comply and
Sergeant Iames sprayed Plaintiff and Wimbush with mace.
See Id. at 11, 30; Pl.'s Mem. 3. Although
Plaintiff alleges that Sergeant Iames sprayed him without
warning and without following prison procedures, Compl. 4, he
acknowledged in a filing associated with a Request for
Administrative Remedy (“ARP”) that he filed with
respect to the incident, that
to avoid any further problems I said sir but Mr. B. Iames cut
me off and said why all you niggas like to hold slots he had
a vindictive look of revenge then said how about this ill
[sic] give you three second to close the slot then pulled
[out] his pepper spray then sprayed me and my cellbuddy. . .
R. 24. Plaintiff attempted to block the pepper spray with his
hands. Id. at 4. Both Plaintiff and Wimbush were
handcuffed, and taken to the prison's medical facilities.
There, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Krista
Bilak. Plaintiff alleges that despite the fact
that he was wheezing, Nurse Bilak failed to check his
respiration or blood pressure, and did not provide him with
any assistance. Compl. 4. However, Bilak noted in a medical
record that Plaintiff suffered from asthma, his blood
pressure was 148/88, pulse 106, respiration 18, and pulse
oxygen level was 99. Verified R. 6, 8. Further, she recorded
that his respiration was normal and his lungs clear.
Id. Plaintiff also was allowed to take a
decontamination shower. Id. at 3, 11.
was administratively charged with violating inmate rules 116
(“possess, misuse, tamper with, damage, or destroy
security equipment or property, detection equipment, or fire
suppression equipment or alarm”), and 400
(“disobey an order”). Id. at 11. At the
hearing on the rule violations, Plaintiff testified that he
was not given a direct order, rather his cellmate was given
the direct order. Id. at 15. Plaintiff questioned
his cellmate, Wimbush, regarding what he was doing
“at the time the slot was being held. . .
.” (emphasis added, demonstrating that the slot in fact
was being held open) and Wimbush denied attempting to disable
the fire sprinkler. Id. at 16. In response to
Plaintiff asking Wimbush whether Sergeant Iames gave an order
to close the food service slot, he responded “Iames
said if you don't close [the] slot in 3 second I am going
to mace . . . .” Id. The Hearing Officer at
the infraction hearing also “reviewed the video camera
footage as requested by Singletary.” Id. at
The Hearing Officer found that
Singletary did have his arm out of the pass through slot on
the cell, which prompted Sgt. Iames to report to the cell.
The video camera showed the incident clearly, as well as the
documentation in the notice. Singletary's presentation
even acknowledged that the slot was being breeched, as he
asked Wimbush what Wimbush was doing while the slot was being
Id. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing
Officer found him Plaintiff guilty of violating Rule 116 but
not guilty of violating rule 400. Id. at 16-17.
then filed an ARP regarding the incident. He claimed that he
was harassed by Correctional Officer Saville and that he was
sprayed with pepper spray in violation of his constitutional
rights under the Eighth Amendment. Verified R. 24-25. On
February 9, 2015, the ARP was dismissed for lack of evidence
and a finding that the use of force complied with Department
of Public Safety and Correctional Services' policies and
use of force manual. Id. at 27. Plaintiff's
appeal to the Commissioner of Correction was dismissed as
unsubstantiated. Id. at 32. Plaintiff's appeal
to the Inmate Grievance Office was dismissed upon a finding
that Plaintiff had been found guilty of inmate rule
violations arising from the incident and that he was
prevented under principles of res administrata and
collateral estoppel from challenging through the grievance
process the disciplinary finding of guilt. Id. at
then filed this lawsuit seeking redress pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 22. Plaintiff
responded to the Motion with various filings, see
ECF Nos. 27, 33, 34, and Defendants did not file a reply.
Because I find there are no genuine disputes of material
fact, I will grant Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment
with regards to all counts as Plaintiff has failed to
demonstrate a violation.
Motion to Dismiss
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's
complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178
F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). The dismissal for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted does not
require defendant to establish “beyond doubt”
that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his
claim which would entitle him to relief. See Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 561 (2007). 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. The
court need not, however, accept unsupported legal
allegations, see Revene v. Charles County
Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations, see Papasan
v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or conclusory
factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,
see United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d
844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).
Motion for ...