United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMES A. HENSON, JR. Plaintiff
RICHARD J. GRAHAM, JR., et al., Defendants
K. Bredar Chief Judge
is a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for
summary judgment filed by defendants Warden Richard Graham
Jr., Chief of Security Bradley Butler, Lieutenant James
Smith, Sergeant Jerry Broadwater, CO II Steven Wilson,
Assistant Warden Ronald S. Weber, Correctional Case
Management Specialist Shawn Gainer, Major Denny Mellot, and
Melanie Gordon, MHP Counselor. ECF 19. Plaintiff has responded.
ECF 25. Upon review of the papers filed, the court
finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below,
defendants' dispositive motion will be granted.
case was instituted upon receipt of a civil rights complaint
filed by plaintiff James Henson, an inmate currently confined
at the Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”).
ECF 1. Plaintiff named as defendants Warden Richard J.
Graham, Jr., Chief of Security Bradley O. Butler, Lieutenant
J. Smith, Sergeant J. Broadwater, Steve A. Wilson, Ronald
Shane Weber, Mrs. Gordon, Nurse Monica,  Mrs. Gainer, and
Major D. Mellot. ECF 1 at 1. Plaintiff states that WCI prison
authorities conspired to destroy his outgoing correspondence,
six-month financial printout, and affidavits from witnesses
that he intended to file in the Circuit Court for Allegany
County, Maryland. Id. at 3. He attaches to his
complaint a copy of an administrative remedy form
(“ARP”) dated March 27, 2017 (WCI 714-17),
alleging that prison authorities have destroyed his outgoing
mail. ECF 1-1.
also alleges in his complaint that unspecified
“guards” continue to put him in life threatening
situations, with known violent criminals in retaliation for
his having used the prison grievance system. Id. In
ARP WCI-2872-16, attached to plaintiff's complaint,
alleges that in December of 2016, Wilson and Broadwater
forced him into a cell with inmate Geral Griffin who sexually
assaulted him. ECF 1-4. As relief, plaintiff seeks access to
the courts and medical treatment. ECF 1 at 3.
the filing of this complaint, plaintiff has filed numerous
letters with the court. ECF 8, 10, 12-18. After the receipt
of defendants' dispositive motion, he filed numerous
“supplemental exhibits.” ECF 21-24, 26-28.
Together, these documents contain the litany of
plaintiff's complaints concerning the entirety of his
incarceration. The filings are difficult to decipher as
plaintiff regularly files documents previously submitted in
other cases and writes across them and around the margins. He
references cases, administrative grievances, and filings
dating back to the early 2000s. The filings refer to
plaintiff's numerous previously filed cases to support
his allegations of regular and continuous problems with
prison staff. Those complaints, to the extent they have
previously been litigated, will not be considered
here. Lastly, to the extent the documents refer
to events occurring after the specific events complained of
in plaintiff's initial complaint, they are not properly
before the court and also will not be considered.
filed an administrative remedy on March 27, 2017
(WCI-0714-17), raising the same allegations as he does in the
instant complaint concerning the destruction of his outgoing
mail addressed to the Circuit Court for Allegany County. ECF
1 at 3; ECF 19-3, p. 15. The ARP was dismissed on March 28,
2017, for having not been filed in the appropriate time
frame. ECF 19-3, p. 15. The instant case was filed on March
31, 2017. Plaintiff filed a headquarters appeal to the
Commissioner of Corrections on April 1, 2017. Id.,
at 16. The appeal was dismissed on April 7, 2017.
filed ARP WCI 2872-16 on December 22, 2016, concerning the
sexual assault upon him by his cellmate. ECF 19-3, p. 33. The
ARP was dismissed on December 27, 2016, as containing matters
outside of the process. Id. His headquarters appeal
was dismissed on January 12, 2017. Id., p. 35.
Wotring, Mail Room Officer Clerk II at WCI, avers that the
mailroom processes plaintiff's mail in accordance with
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
procedures. ECF 19-3, p. 13, ¶¶ 2, 3 (Wotring
Decl.); ECF 19-3, pp. 61-75 (Executive Directive OPS.250.0001
§ 05D). Wotring states that, to her knowledge,
plaintiff's mail was never withheld, delayed, or not
processed so long as the mail was in compliance with approved
DPSCS policies and directives. ECF 19-3, p. 13, ¶ 4.
Wotring explains that mail arriving at the NBCI/WCI mailroom
is logged and forwarded to the proper housing unit for
distribution to the inmates. ECF 19-3, p.14, ¶ 5. A
“legal log record” is maintained by mailroom
staff documenting the name and DOC number of the inmate
receiving the legal mail, the name of the sender, the date
the document was received by the institution, and the
signature of the inmate indicating receipt of the document.
Id. In the case where legal mail is returned to the
institution due to having an incorrect address or incorrect
postage, the mail is logged and handled as legal mail. The
mail is returned to the inmate, unopened, for him to sign the
log and to open in the presence of custody staff. ECF 19-3,
p. 14, ¶ 7. Outgoing mail is logged only if sent by
indigent inmates. Id., ¶ 5.
avers that, to the best of her knowledge, neither she nor
anyone employed in the mailroom has hindered the delivery of
or the sending of plaintiff's mail. Id., ¶
6. Plaintiff's mail is handled the same as all the other
inmates' mail. Id.
sent and received over 166 pieces of mail from February 1,
2017, through August 2, 2017. ECF 19-3 at 76-131 (Legal mail
log for plaintiff from February 1, 2017, to August 2, 2017).
Moreover, the Circuit Court for Allegany County received mail
from plaintiff during the time at issue. ECF 19-2.
and Smith each aver that they did not destroy plaintiff's
mail or instruct anyone to destroy plaintiff's mail. ECF
19-3, p. 10, ¶ 6; ECF 19-3, ¶ 12, ¶ 6. Gordon
and Gainer also specifically deny handling inmate mail or
destroying or otherwise tampering with plaintiff's mail.
ECF 19-3, p. 7. ¶ 3; ECF 19-3, p. 6, ¶ 13.
Failure to Protect
Gainer, Correctional Case Management Specialist at WCI,
states that the Case Management Department maintains records
of validated inmate enemies throughout DPSCS. ECF 19-3, p. 4,
¶¶ 1, 3 (Gainer Decl). Enemy alerts are maintained
by case management staff in accordance with the Case
Management Manual-DOC 100.0002. Id., ¶ 4;
see also ECF 19-3, pp. 58-60 (DOC Case Management
Manual-DOC 100.0002). When an inmate alleges another inmate
is an enemy, an investigation is conducted by staff to
determine whether the allegation is true. ECF 19-3, p. 5,
¶ 5. If the situation is validated, the inmates are
separated until the enemy situation can be remedied either
through transfer of one or both of the inmates or by some
other suitable alternative. Id., ¶ 6. In the
case where inmates have a serious physical altercation, they
are considered enemies until interviewed by custody or case
management staff for potential addition to their enemy lists.
Id., ¶ 7. In accordance with the case
management manual, an enemy may not be added to a requesting
inmate's enemy list unless verified. Id., ¶
8; ECF 19-3, p. 60. As of the filing of defendants'
dispositive motion, plaintiff had 7 verified enemies on his
enemy list. ECF 19-3, p. 5, ¶ 9; ECF 19-3, p. 56 (Enemy
Alert and Retraction Screen). Plaintiff is currently housed
at WCI and, at the time of the filing of defendants'
dispositive motion, none of plaintiff's verified enemies
were housed at WCI. ECF 19-3, p. 5, ¶ 11.
and Smith each aver that neither of them nor, to their
knowledge, any other correctional officer has threatened to
assign or actually assign plaintiff to a cell with a known
enemy. ECF 19-3, p. 10, ¶ 5 (Butler Decl.); ECF 19-3, p.
12, ¶ 5 (Smith Decl.). Gainer also denies threatening to
assign or actually assigning plaintiff to a cell with a known
enemy. ECF 19-3, p. 5, ¶ 12. Weber and Graham aver that
each has never willfully ignored a documented threat to
plaintiff's safety. ECF 19-3, p. 2, ¶ 8 (Weber
Decl.); ECF 19-3, p. 224, ¶ 8 (Graham Decl.).
Chief of Security at WCI, and Smith, Housing Unit #4 manager
at WCI, aver that cells located at Housing Unit #4 are all
double celled, except for a few designated handicapped single
cells. ECF 19-3, p. 9, ¶¶ 1, 3 ECF 19-3, p. 11,
¶¶ 1, 3. When an inmate assaults another inmate,
they are identified as verified enemies and placed on each
inmate's “Enemy Alerts and Retractions”
screen on the “Offender Case Management System
(OCMS).” ECF 19-3, p. 9, ¶ 4; ECF 19-3, p. 11,
¶ 4. Inmates can sign an enemy retraction. Id.
Where both inmates sign the retraction indicating they do not
consider the other inmate to be an enemy, then the
designation of enemy may be removed by case management.
Id. In the event one inmate refuses to sign the
retraction, then the inmates remain assigned as enemies.
December 18, 2016, the Internal Investigation Division
(“IID”) of DPSCS was contacted as a result of
plaintiff's reporting to a nurse, while he was being
treated for a possible seizure, that he was sexually
assaulted by his cellmate. ECF 19-3, p. 132. Lt. McKenzie
attempted to interview plaintiff, but he refused to be
was transported to the Western Maryland Regional Medical
Center for a sexual assault examination. Id.
Examination revealed that plaintiff had a one-centimeter
abrasion to his left cheek, two four-centimeter abrasions to
his left inner wrist, a two-centimeter abrasion to his left
shoulder, pain in both knees, and two circular shaped, purple
colored bruises to his right inner knee. Id., pp.
138-139, 193. No. evidence of anal/rectal trauma was noted,
and no signs of sperm or seminal fluid were found.
Id., p. 139, 191. The investigator retrieved
plaintiff's white thermal shirt which had blood on the
sleeve. Id., p. 139.
cellmate declined to waive his rights to an attorney in order
to be interviewed. Id., pp. 139, 199. The
investigator noted, however, that the cellmate had dried
blood and a puncture to the top of his head and scratches on
his nose, cheek, and right inner arm. Id., p. 139;
see also ECF 19-3, p. 170.
to being interviewed by IID, plaintiff told the nurse at WCI
that his cellmate beat him in the head, and he alleged there
was anal penetration and fellatio during the
attack. Id., p. 140, 153. He also
reported that his assailant ejaculated in his mouth.
investigator interviewed plaintiff, who advised that on
December 16, 2016, after count, his cellmate produced a
weapon and told plaintiff that if he did not perform oral sex
he would kill him. ECF 19-3, p. 140. Plaintiff did as
instructed, reporting that his assailant wore a blue glove
finger for protection. Plaintiff reported that the same thing
happened the following day and he was unsure if his assailant
had ejaculated. Id. Plaintiff reported that on
December 18, 2016, his assailant “told him he wanted
some ‘ass' and when he told him no his cellmate
began to assault him.” Id. Plaintiff advised
the investigator that he told Officer Imer he wanted to see a
lieutenant but his request was declined. Plaintiff stated
that he had boxers on and his cellmate got on his back.
Plaintiff denied there being penetration but also stated that
he passed out so he was not sure if anything happened.
Id. Plaintiff reported that during the struggle he
grabbed his assailant's hand, which caused the assailant
to stab himself in the head. Id. The investigator
closed the case with a finding of
“unsubstantiated” and referred the case to the
Allegany County State's Attorney's Office for their
review and recommendations. Id., p. 141. The
State's Attorney's Office declined to charge
plaintiff's cellmate in relation to the alleged sexual
assault. ECF 19-4.
deny retaliating against plaintiff. Butler and Smith each
aver that neither they nor, to their knowledge, did any other
officer retaliate against plaintiff for using the prison
grievance or court system. ECF 19-3, p. 10, ¶ 5; ECF
19-3, p. 12, ¶ 5. Gordon also denies falsifying mental
health reports or records or retaliating against plaintiff.
ECF 19-3, p. 7 ¶ 4. Weber states that he never filed a
false report against plaintiff and did not conspire with
officers or case managers to maintain or determine
plaintiff's segregation status. ECF 19-3, p. 3,
¶¶ 6, 7. Graham avers that he has never filed a
false report against plaintiff or conspired with officers or
case management to maintain plaintiff's segregation
status or cell assignment. ECF 19-3, p. 224, ¶ 7. Gainer
also denies retaliating against plaintiff for using the
prison grievance or court systems. ECF 19-3, p. 5, ¶ 12.
and Broadwater were not employed at WCI during the time
complained of in plaintiff's complaint. Denny Mellott
retired from state service on January 1, 2016. ECF 19-3, p.
1, ¶ 2 (Winters Decl.). Jerry Broadwater left state
service on June 9, 2011. Id.
Standard of Review
Motion to Dismiss
purpose of a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 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 that 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 ...