United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants, Felicia Alston,
Warden Margaret Chippendale, and Rudeine Dimissie's
Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 28). The Motion is ripe for disposition,
and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will
grant Defendants' Motion.
August 19, 2015, King underwent surgery at the University of
Maryland Medical System (“UMMS”) to correct
achalasia, a defect in the esophagus that prevented food from
readily entering the stomach, causing vomiting and nausea.
(Compl. Supp. at 1, ECF No. 9). Prior to discharge from the
hospital, King met with a dietician to discuss the need for a
soft, pureed diet, with slow reintroduction of solid foods
over the course of eight weeks. (Pl.'s Opp. at 1, ECF No.
32). King alleges that Defendants provided her an improper
medical diet. She states hospital personnel insisted she
should be fed baby food (not pureed food) for four weeks,
(Compl. Supp. at 2), and she was forced to rely on commissary
food or risk starvation and malnourishment, (Pl.'s Opp.
states she “wrote a few” complaints under the
Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) process
after the kitchen blender broke, making it hard for dietary
staff to properly puree her food, but “nothing ever
came of it.” (Id. at 2). She complains that
Chippendale refused to provide her with baby food as an
alternative to pureed food, (id. at 4-5), and states
that Chippendale wrote in favor of granting King early parole
because “the prison couldn't or wouldn't do
what was needed to be done to feed [her], ”
(id. at 5). King pleads Chippendale ordered a search
of her cell and seizure of commissary food, then prohibited
her from ordering commissary food for several months. King
states she “starved” during this time, because
she only received Ensure for nourishment, a sugary drink that
caused weight gain. (Id. at 3).
Complaint filed July 22, 2016, King stated that she was not
provided a medically-indicated diet while confined at the
Maryland Correctional Institution for Women
(“MCIW”). King initially sought medical release from
prison. (Compl. at 3, ECF No. 1). Her Complaint, construed as
a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, was later
supplemented to include unspecified damages for
“negligence, infliction of emotional distress and so
much more.” (Compl. Supp. at 5).
initial screening (ECF No. 5), the case proceeded solely as
to Defendants Chippendale, Demissie, and Alston, who have
filed the Motion, as supplemented. (ECF Nos. 28 and 31). King
filed an Opposition, (ECF No. 32), and Defendants filed a
Reply, (ECF No. 33).
Standard of Review
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of a complaint, ” not to “resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” King v.
Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243-44
(4th Cir. 1999)). A complaint fails to state a claim if it
does not contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), or does not “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to
forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the
complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each
element. Goss v. Bank of Am., N.A., 917 F.Supp.2d
445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v. McMahen,
684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)), aff'd sub
nom., Goss v. Bank of Am., NA, 546 F.App'x
165 (4th Cir. 2013).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must examine the
complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of
Comm'rs of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th
Cir. 2005) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232,
236 (1974)). But, the court need not accept unsupported or
conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to
actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst,
604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979), or legal conclusions
couched as factual allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
filed her Amended Complaint pro se. Pro se pleadings are
liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard
than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); accord Brown v.
N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d 720, 722 (4th Cir.
2010). Pro se complaints are entitled to special care to
determine whether any possible set of facts would entitle the
plaintiff to relief. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5,
9-10 (1980). But even a pro se complaint must be dismissed if
it does not allege “a plausible claim for
relief.” Forquer v. Schlee, No. RDB-12-969,
2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
to a Motion ...