United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
ESTATE OF LOUIS STANLEY LEYSATH, HI, et al. Plaintiffs,
STATE OF MARYLAND, et al. Defendants.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Stanley Leysath, III ("Leysath") was incarcerated
at the Jessup Correctional Institution ("JCI") in
Jessup, Maryland when, on February 20, 2015, he died from
thermal injuries after breaking an exposed radiator steam
pipe in his cell. Leysath's wife, Morgan Leysath, father,
Louis Leysath, Jr., and mother, Cheryl Leysath. individually
and on behalf of Leysath's estate, (collectively,
"Plaintiffs") bring claims under Maryland tort law
and the U.S. Constitution against the State of Maryland,
Stephen T. Moyer, Secretary of Public Safety for the Maryland
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services,
Officer Marcel Jaff, Officer Betty Knox, Sergeant Gerald
Coleman, Sergeant Foluso Fekoya, Lieutenant Boenhflahn
Herring, Lieutenant Gena Addison, Major James Harris, Captain
Odette Henry- McCarthy, (collectively, "the Correctional
Officers"), Dr. Lynda Bonieskie, and Dr. Jacqueline
Moore (collectively, "Defendants"). ECF No. 1.
Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 30. No hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6
(D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons. Defendants'
Motion is granted.
facts of this case, as alleged by Plaintiffs and set forth in
Defendants' Motion, are not in dispute. On the morning of
February 19, 2015, a JCI officer observed that Leysath was
exhibiting odd behavior and brought him to Dr. Moore for
evaluation. ECF No. 30-4 ¶ 3. Dr. Moore evaluated
Leysath for 20-30 minutes, during which Leysath stated that
he "saw spirits." Id. ¶ 6. This was
the first time Dr. Moore had evaluated Leysath, but mental
health records indicated that Leysath had a prior history of
mood swings and hearing voices, and that he had been
prescribed psychotropic medications in 2011; however, the
medications were discontinued in November 2012 after "he
was deemed clinically stable despite medication
noncompliance." Id. ¶ 4. Given
Leysath's exhibited behavior, as a precaution. Dr. Moore
recommended that he be placed on close observation due to
"possible delirium." Id. ¶ 7. Dr.
Moore also immediately referred Leysath for both a
psychiatric and medical evaluation. Id. ¶ 7;
ECF No. 30-5. Dr. Moore's supervisor, Dr. Bonieskie,
Deputy Director of Mental Health Services, was aware of, and
concurred with, Dr. Moore's approach. ECF No. 30-6.
Moore's direction, Leysath was placed on close
observation in an observation cell, containing only a metal
sink, toilet, sprinkler head, and wall radiator. ECF No. 30-6
¶ 5. Observation cells do not contain a bed, bedding, or
electrical outlets, and the inmate must wear a specially
designed smock designed to prevent self-injury. Id.
Close observation is intended for inmates exhibiting suicidal
inclinations or odd behavior as a result of changes in mental
status. ECF No. 30-4 ¶ 7. While under close observation,
an inmate is monitored by correctional officers as well as
inmate observation aides positioned outside of an
inmate's cell. See ECF No. 30-6 ¶ 6; ECF
approximately 6:50 p.m. on February 19, inmate Luis Aguillar.
Leysath's assigned observation aide, informed Officer
Knox that Leysath was agitated and had broken the metal cover
off of the wall radiator in his cell. ECF No. 30-9. The metal
cover spans several feet in length and is secured to the
radiator to cover the radiator steam pipes that run
horizontally near the floor and provide heat to the cell. ECF
Nos. 30-8; 30-11. Officer Knox informed Sergeant Coleman that
the cover was detached, and Coleman then responded to
Leysath's cell and notified his shift supervisor,
Lieutenant Herring, of the situation. ECF No. 30-8 ¶ 6.
Lieutenant Herring in turn notified Captain McCarthy, who
deemed the detached radiator cover to be a hazard and
instructed Lieutenant Herring to remove it prior to returning
Leysath to the cell. ECF No. 30-12 ¶ 4. Captain McCarthy
then informed the shift commander, Major Harris, who agreed
with the response. ECF No. 30-13 ¶ 4.
was temporarily removed from his cell while Sergeant Coleman,
with Lieutenant Herring and Lieutenant Addison present,
removed the detached radiator cover. Leysath was then
returned to his cell, and because the radiator cover had been
removed, the radiator's steam pipes were exposed. ECF No.
30-8 ¶ 7. While these correctional officers maintain
that Leysath was calm throughout this process, Trian Brown,
the assigned inmate observation aide that evening, noted that
Leysath banged on the door and talked to himself, saying that
"they were doing something to his wife downstairs."
ECF No. 30-16.
approximately 3:20 a.m. the following morning, Leysath became
agitated, claimed that he was going to kill someone for
killing his wife, and flooded his cell. ECF No. 30-10.
Officer Jaff notified Sergeant Fekoya, who observed that
Leysath had removed his smock and appeared to be clogging the
sink with it. ECF No. 30-17 ¶ 4. Although Leysath's
cell was flooding, the water was not hot, and Sergeant Fekoya
did not consider the flooding to be an emergency warranting
Leysath's removal from the cell. Id.
¶¶ 4, 6 (noting that because Leysath was on close
observation, Fekoya could not remove him from the cell unless
there was an emergency or upon approval from his
supervisors). Sergeant Fekoya noted that Leysath was
"laughing and running around in the cell naked" but
moved to a different cell while Officer Jaff and Brown
remained nearby. ECF No. 30-17 ¶ 7.
approximately 4:00 a.m., Sergeant Fekoya heard a loud sound
from Leysath's cell and an inmate saying "Oh, we
think he has bust the steam. He has bust the steam."
Id. ¶ 8. Sergeant Fekoya observed steam through
the window into Leysath's cell and made three separate
radio transmissions to his supervisors. Id. ¶
9-10. At some point, Sergeant Fekoya opened the feed slot in
the cell door and observed Leysath lying on the ground,
unresponsive. Id. ¶ 11 • At approximately
4:12 a.m., prior to the arrival of his supervisors, Sergeant
Fekoya deemed the situation to be a medical emergency and,
with the assistance of Officer Jaff, removed Leysath from his
cell. Id. ¶ 12. Shortly thereafter a nurse
arrived to administer CPR, but Leysath was pronounced dead at
4:58 a.m. due to thermal injuries sustained from the detached
steam pipes. Id; ECF No. 30-19 (Autopsy Report).
filed suit in this Court on May 18, 2017, asserting the
following claims against the State of Maryland, Secretary
Moyer in his official capacity, and the remaining Defendants
in their individual and official capacities: Negligence
against Moore and Bonieskie (Count I); Negligence against the
Correctional Officers (Count II); Negligence against the
State (Count III); Wrongful Death (Count IV); Survival Action
(Count V); Violation of Leysath's Civil Rights by Moore
and Bonieskie (Count VI); Violation of Leysath's Civil
Rights by the Correctional Officers (Count VII). ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Prccedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alterative, for summary
judgment pursuant to Rule 56. ECF No. 30. Pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6), a court may dismiss a complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When deciding
a motion to dismiss, a court "must accept as true all of
the factual allegations contained in the complaint, "
and "draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts]
in favor of the plaintiff." E.I. du Pont de Nemours
& Co. v. Kolon Indus.. Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th
Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, a complaint must contain a "short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion to
dismiss invoking Rule 12(b)(6), "a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, 'to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544. 570 (2007)).
motion is styled as a motion to dismiss, or in the
alternative, for sunmary judgment. A court considers only the
pleadings when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Where the
parties present matters outside of the pleadings, and the
Court considers those matters, the court will treat the
motion as one for summary judgment. See Gadsby v.
Grasmick, 109 F.3d 940, 949 (4th Cir. 1997);
Mansfield v. Kerry, No. DKC-15-3693, 2016 WL
7383873, at *2 (D. Md. Dec. 21, 2016). All parties must be
given some indication by the Court that it is treating a
motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment, "with the
consequent right in the opposing party to file counter
affidavits or pursue reasonable discovery." Gay v.
Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985).
the moving party styles its motion as a "Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, "
as in the case here, and attaches additional materials to its
Motion, the non-moving party is, of course, aware that
materials outside the pleadings are before the Court, and the
Court can treat the motion as one for summary judgment.
See Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth,
149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998). A court may grant a
motion for summary judgment only if there exists no genuine
issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
A material fact is one that constitutes an element that is
essential to a party's case. Celotex Corp. v,
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); see also
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., AH U.S. 242, 248 (1986)
("the substantive law will identify which facts are
genuine issue as to a material fact exists if the evidence
that the parties present to tie court is sufficient to
indicate the existence of a factual dispute that could be
resolved in the non-moving party's favor through trial.
See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. While it is the
movant's burden to show the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact, Pulliam Inv. Co., Inc. v. Cameo
Properties, 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987), it is
the non-moving party's burden to establish its existence,
see Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-87 (1986), and "[t]he
evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.