United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge.
complaint filed August 23, 2017, and construed as a civil
rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Jamie Purnell
alleged that he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions
of confinement while detained at the Baltimore City Detention
Center, now known as the Baltimore Pretrial Complex. (ECF No.
1). Purnell, who seeks compensatory damages, was ordered to
supplement his complaint to specify those responsible for the
allegedly unconstitutional conditions. (ECF No. 5). In his
supplement, he named only the Warden of the facility, now
identified as Kathleen Landerkin. (ECF Nos. 6, 11). Defendant
Landerkin has filed a motion to dismiss, or in the
alternative, for summary judgment. (ECF No. 11). That motion,
construed as a motion for summary judgment, is
unopposed. No hearing is necessary to determine the
outcome of this case. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For reasons noted herein, summary judgment shall be
GRANTED in favor of the defendant.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
for Summary Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (emphases added). "A dispute is
genuine if 'a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the nonmoving party.'" Libertarian Party of Va.
v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Dulaney v. Packaging Corp. of Am., 673 F.3d 323, 330
(4th Cir. 2012)). "A fact is material if it 'might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.'" Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Accordingly,
"the mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment[.]"
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. The court must view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014)
(per curiam), and draw all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor, Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007) (citations omitted); see also Jacobs v. N.C.
Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th
Cir. 2015). At the same time, the court must "prevent
factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to
trial." Bouchat v. Bait. Ravens Football Club,
Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir.
appears that Purnell was a pretrial detainee at the time of
his alleged exposure to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. The constitutional protections afforded a
pretrial detainee are provided by the Fourteenth Amendment.
See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n.16 (1979).
Thus, Purnell's allegations that the JI Building where he
was housed had a thin mattress, mold, and hanging wires
overhead, too few shared toilets and showers, and
contamination from mice, flies and roaches, is actionable
under § 1983. Purnell claims these conditions led to his
development of asthma and diabetes. Although he submitted
grievance forms concerning these conditions, "they did
not get back to him." (ECF No. 1, p. 2). He does not dispute
defendant's assertion that the only grievance he filed,
as identified by the Resident Grievance Office, concerned a
problem with receipt of mail, which was dismissed for
procedural reasons. (ECF No. 11-2, Kelvin L. Harris
Affidavit, ¶ 4; ECF No. 11-3, grievance and response).
are required to exhaust "such administrative remedies as
are available" before filing an action. 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a); see also Ross v. Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850,
1858 (2016) (holding that an inmate "must exhaust
available remedies, but need not exhaust unavailable
ones.")- The statute provides that an action shall not
be brought with respect to prison conditions under §
1983 or any other Federal law by a prisoner confined in any
jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such
administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
may not excuse a failure to exhaust, Ross, 136 S.Ct.
at 1856 (citing Miller v. French, 530 U.S. 327, 337
(2000)). Exhaustion (1) allows the facility to address
complaints about the program it administers before being
subjected to suit; (2) reduces litigation to the extent
complaints are satisfactorily resolved; and (3) prepares a
useful record in the event of litigation. Jones, 549
U.S. at 219. Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is an
affirmative defense, "thus inmates need not plead
exhaustion, nor do they bear the burden of proving it.
Moore, 517 F.3d at 725. But "a complaint may be
dismissed on exhaustion grounds so long as the inmate is
first given an opportunity to address the issue."
requirement is one of proper exhaustion of available
administrative remedies, which means "complet[ing] the
administrative review process in accordance with the
applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a
precondition to bringing suit in federal court."
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88, 93 (2006). An
administrative remedy is not available if a prisoner, through
no fault of her own, was prevented from availing herself of
it. Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725 (4th Cir.
Ross, the Supreme Court identified three kinds of
circumstances in which an administrative remedy is
unavailable. 136 S.Ct. at 1859. First, "an
administrative procedure is unavailable when (despite what
regulations or guidance materials may promise) it operates as
a simple dead end-with officers unable or consistently
unwilling to provide any relief to aggrieved inmates."
Id. Second, "an administrative scheme might be
so opaque that it becomes, practically speaking, incapable of
use. In this situation, some mechanism exists to provide
relief, but no ordinary prisoner can discern or navigate
it." Id. The third circumstance arises when
"prison administrators thwart inmates from taking
advantage of a grievance process through machination,
misrepresentation, or intimidation." Id. at
1860. None of these circumstances are relevant here.
asserts an affirmative defense that Purnell did not complete
the administrative exhaustion process, which Purnell was
given an opportunity to address. He failed to do so.