United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAREL A. STEPNEY, #430226 Plaintiff
WARDEN ARMSTEAD, LIEUTENANT PEOPLES CO II DANIEL NGANGA CO II BONSWORTH NURSE ALATOSO DR. SHABAZZ L.C.P.C. M.H. PROFESSIONAL KRISTEN HANKS Defendants
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
Stepney, who is self-represented, is a state inmate confined
at the Patuxent Institution (“Patuxent”) in
Jessup, Maryland. On April 4, 2017, he filed an unverified
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, invoking the
court's jurisdiction and supplemental jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1343 & 1367. ECF 1. Stepney
alleges use of excessive force and inadequate medical care.
Id. at 4.
CO II Daniel Nganga and Warden Laura Armstead
(“Correctional Defendants”) have jointly filed a
motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment. ECF 14. ECF 14. The motion is supported by a
Memorandum (ECF 14-1) (collectively, the
“Motion”) and exhibits in the form of
declarations and records. ECF 14-2 to 14-4. Stepney has not
hearing is necessary to resolve this Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow,
defendants' uncontroverted motion, construed as a motion
for summary judgment, shall be granted.
alleges that on or about October 7, 2015, he arrived at
Patuxent and was placed in cell C-1-16. ECF 1, ¶¶
13, 14. Correctional Officer Nganga, in the presence of
Correctional Officer Bonsworth and Lt. Peoples, instructed
Stepney to remove all his clothing, but he refused.
Id. ¶¶ 14, 15. Lt. Peoples called for a
“Correctional Institution Squad” and at that time
Bonsworth, Nganga, and Peoples rushed the cell door and
attempted to get into the cell, but were unable to do so
“because of the way [Stepney] held the door.”
Id. ¶ 15. Stepney asserts that when the
officers finally entered his cell some thirty minutes later,
the first to do so, Peoples, started swinging and punching
Stepney in his chest. Id. ¶ 16. Stepney claims
that Bonsworth, who next entered the cell, punched him, then
picked him up, carried him outside the cell, threw him on the
floor of the tier, and placed his knees in Stepney's
back. Further, Stepney alleges that Nganga punched him in the
back of the head and on the sides of his face several times.
ECF 1, ¶¶ 16-17.
next claims that Nganga handcuffed him in the back and all
three correctional officers dragged him to his feet and
carried him to the shower area, where his clothing (a
jumpsuit, tee-shirt, and underwear) was cut off with
scissors. Id. ¶¶ 17, 18. He states that he
was given a smock and taken back to his cell, where he was
given a food tray. Stepney complains that his request to be
taken to the medical department was ignored by all the
officers. Id. ¶ 19. Further, he alleges that
his body was becoming numb and he experienced bleeding from
his rectum and swelling on both sides of his face and his
right foot. Id. ¶ 20.
asserts that after laying in his cell for about two hours,
Nurse Alatoso came to his cell and attempted to make him take
the medication “dethpacolt.” He claims that he
took the medication because Alatoso told him he would remain
in Housing Unit L-1 if he did not do so. ECF 1, ¶ 21.
states that because he was left with “only a smock, no
foot wear, no bedding, a concrete bed, mice, roaches, etc.,
he wanted to get away from such an environment.” ECF 1
¶ 22. He recounts that the following morning, on October
8, 2015, he was seen by Dr. Shabazz, who placed Stepney on
Lithium, which “made him bleed from the rectum.”
Id. ¶ 23. He informed Shabazz of same, but the
physician informed him that Lithium did not cause that
reaction. Id. Additionally, Stepney claims that
Kristen Hanks, a Mental Health Professional
(“MHP”), prescribed the wrong medication for him
on October 8, 2015, causing him to be poisoned. ECF 1, ¶
24. He contends that two to three weeks later, his blood work
“came back poison.” Id. ¶ 24.
Stepney states that Dr. Hong took him off Lithium after his
“blood became poison.” Id. ¶ 25. He
complains that nothing was done for him by Patuxent medical
staff as to the aforementioned “attack” by
correctional officers or the poisoning. Id. ¶
alleges that Warden Armstead failed to take any action in
response to his administrative remedy procedure
(“ARP”) grievances (id. ¶ 26), and
failed “to curb” what happened to him.
Id. ¶ 34. He complains that the correctional
officers' actions were a “misuse of force” as
he did nothing to warrant such treatment and they ignored his
request to be taken to the medical department. Id.
¶¶ 27, 28, 29, 30. Stepney also claims that
Alatoso, Hanks, and Shabazz engaged in unprofessional
behavior, negligence, and cruel and unusual punishment when
Alatoso forced him to take medication, Hanks prescribed the
wrong medication, and Shabazz prescribed Lithium, which
caused blood poisoning. Id. ¶¶ 31, 32, 33.
He seeks declaratory relief as well as compensatory and
punitive damages. ECF 1 at 16-19.
Correctional Defendants' response
was transferred from the Maryland Correctional Institution in
Jessup (“MCIJ”) to the Mental Health Unit at
Patuxent at approximately 4:00 p.m. on October 6, 2015, due
to his disorganized thoughts and inability to get along with
others at MCIJ. ECF 14-2 (Intelligence and Investigative
Division (“IID”) Report) at 6, 28. He was housed
in a Tier L-1 cell. Id. at 6.
to the IID Report, plaintiff filed an ARP grievance on
November 7, 2016, claiming to have been assaulted in his cell
by seven officers on the evening of his arrival at Patuxent.
Id. at 5. The incident was investigated by IID
Detective Roger Balderson.
was interviewed by Balderson on December 17, 2015. During the
interview, Stepney indicated that he had not been injured at
all, despite his ARP alleging that he had been punched and
kneed in his sides by officers. ECF 14-2 at 6. He was unable
to identify any of the correctional officers who allegedly
assaulted him, either by name or physical description.
Stepney agreed to complete a Complaint Withdrawal form to
dismiss the complaint, which he did at the conclusion of the
interview. Id. at 10. For his part, Correctional
Officer Nganga affirms he did not use force against Stepney.
ECF 14-4 (Nganga Decl.).
continued his investigation by meeting with the Patuxent
Shift Supervisor, Major Eugene Pigatt. ECF 14-2 at 6. A
computer records check was conducted for Use of Force
(“UOF”) reports for October 7, 2015, with
negative results. Pigatt informed Balderson that if an inmate
had to be extracted from his cell, as Stepney alleged in his
ARP, a UOF report would be generated. Balderson also reviewed
the Patuxent Significant Events Form for October 7, 2015, as
well as the L-1 Tier Logbook for October 6 to 8, 2015. The
examination revealed no information related to Stepney or any
cell extraction or incident of assault involving Stepney. ECF
14-2 at 12-15, 17-20, 22-26; ECF 14-3 (Johnson Decl.). Pigatt
informed Balderson that it is normal procedure during intake
for a mental health inmate to be relieved of his possessions,
including clothing, and to ...