United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge.
response to the above-captioned civil rights complaint filed
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Defendants Webb, Bishop,
Iames, LaRue, and Metz move to dismiss or for summary
judgment. ECF No. 13. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF No.
25. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary to determine the
matters pending. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion to
dismiss is granted.
facts as pleaded in the Complaint are accepted as true for
purposes of this opinion. Plaintiff John Wright, an inmate
committed to the custody of the Maryland Department of Public
Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) and confined in
North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI), alleges that on
July 1, 2014, he received a disciplinary ticket for
possession of a weapon that was based on falsified
information. ECF No. 1 at p. 2. Wright's cell was
searched by Officers Marvin Metz and Shane LaRue and
supervised by Sergeant Iames. Id. at p. 4. The
search was prompted by the receipt of a “snitch
note” which reported that Wright possessed a weapon and
that Wright was “gonna get a staff member.” ECF
No. 1-2 at p. 2.
removing Wright from his cell and handcuffing him, Metz and
LaRue entered the cell to conduct the search. Shortly after,
LaRue came to the cell door and asked Iames “what
it's (sic) gonna be?” to which Iames responded,
“let it roll . . . let's teach this bitch a
lesson.” ECF No. 1, p.4. LaRue went back into the cell
and returned with a closed laundry bag which contained a
weapon inside. Id.
was then removed from the tier and escorted to the holding
cell where Iames and Metz strip searched him. ECF No. 1 at p.
4. During the strip search, Wright turned over two medical
prescribed knee braces which were inspected by Metz and found
to have no damage, only normal wear and tear. However, Wright
attaches to his Complaint a medical note which indicates that
the knee braces were found disassembled and that the knee
sleeve was being used “other than for its intended
purpose.” ECF No. 1-4. At the conclusion of the strip
search, Iames confiscated the knee braces and commented to
Wright, “I told you not to fuck with me.” ECF No.
1 at p. 5.
was then placed in segregation pending an adjustment hearing
on a weapons possession infraction. ECF No. 1 at p. 5. The
Notice of Infraction at issue reads in pertinent part:
On July 1, 2014 at approximately 0800 hours Sergeant B.G.
Iames was sorting the housing unit mail when he came across a
letter stating that the inmate in Cell 2-A-54 has a
weapon hidden inside his laundry detergent and was
planning on assaulting staff. I, accompanied by Sergeant B.G.
Iames and Officer Metz approached cell 2-A-54 single occupied
by Inmate John Wright . . . to conduct a cell search.
Sergeant Iames placed handcuffs on Inmate Wright . . . while
the search was being conducted. During the search, I Ofc. S.
LaRue discovered a homemade weapon inside a laundry detergent
bag. The weapon was made from two shaving razors and a razor
handle. Inmate Wright was immediately escorted off the tier
and taken to HU2 C/D holding cell and stripped searched by
myself, Ofc. Metz and Sergeant Iames.
ECF 1-5 at p. 2 (emphasis supplied). The informant's
“letter” does not mention that the weapon was
hidden in a laundry bag, only that “A-54 has a weapon
says he's gonna get a staff member for fucking with him
says he wants one of those bitches on daylight.” ECF
1-2 at p. 2.
disciplinary hearing on this infraction was postponed after
Wright requested the original color photograph of the alleged
weapon. Id. The hearing resumed on July 10, 2014,
over which Officer Sipes presided. Id. Wright
asserts that Sipes agreed that the weapon did not come out of
the laundry bag, contrary to LaRue's report, and that the
snitch note did not indicate the location where the weapon
was hidden. In addition, Wright also asserts that Sipes'
review of video footage from the search was material to Sipes
finding Wright not guilty of the weapon charge. Id.
Wright also avers that the video footage of the search
established that the knee braces were not in his cell, but
were rather on his person and were not damaged beyond normal
wear and tear. ECF No. 1 at p.6. As a result, Wright was
found not guilty as to the infraction related to his damaged
knee braces. Id.
16, 2014, Wright filed a grievance, known as an ARP, alleging
officer misconduct surrounding the weapons possession
infraction. ECF No. 1-7. The Warden dismissed the ARP based
on the findings of the Internal Investigations Unit (IIU).
Id. at p. 2. Wright appealed the Warden's
response to the Commissioner of Correction, Wayne Webb,
alleging that his claim had never been investigated by the
IIU and that the Warden was involved in covering up the
incident. ECF No. 1, p. 7. Wright's appeal was found to
be meritorious in part because IIU had not investigated his
case. ECF No. 1-7 at p. 6. In addition, the
Commissioner's response confirms that officers had filed
a false report against him, but did not disclose what, if
any, disciplinary measures were taken against staff.
Id. The response further indicates that the Warden
would be reminded to report all staff misconduct to the IIU
and that “no further action or remedy will be taken
through the ARP process.” Id.
filed an appeal with the Inmate Grievance Office (IGO) on
November 16, 2014. ECF No. 1 at p. 7. A hearing was held on
the grievance on February 9, 2015, and his grievance was
subsequently dismissed. Id. Wright states he filed
for judicial review and “hearing was granted with
Memorandum due by June 24, 2016.” He does not provide
the result of the judicial review. Id.
notes that NBCI conducted an internal investigation of his
claim that a false report was filed against him and during
that investigation the video footage was erased. Id.
He states that erasure of the video is contrary to policy
which requires that video footage be preserved for five
years. Id. As relief, Wright seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive
damages. Id. at p. 8.
do not dispute that LaRue improperly claimed in the written
notice of infraction that an informant had disclosed where
the weapon was located in Wright's cell because LaRue had
not seen the informant's note before writing it.
See ECF No. 13-3 at pp. 16 - 19 (IGO decision in IGO
No. 20142087, findings of fact). Defendants also do not
dispute that the IIU failed to investigate the claim as
initially asserted but rather argue that failure was rendered
moot by the internal investigation conducted after Wright