United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Eddie Murphy's pro
se Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.
ECF No. 1 at 9. Murphy claims Defendants used excessive force
against him, retaliated against him for filing an action in
this Court, failed to protect him from harm, and subjected
him to unconstitutional conditions during the time he was an
inmate at North Branch Correctional Institution in
Cumberland, Maryland. Lt. Walter Iser, Lt. William Gillum,
former Lt. Bradley Wilt, CO. II Nicholas Soltas, CO. II John
Portmess, CO. II Craig Sauter, CO. II Ronald Saville, CO. II
Jason Frantz, and former CO. II Christopher Ortt
(collectively the "State Defendants"), by their
counsel, filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No.
43.Murphy was provided an opportunity to
respond with materials in support of his claims and granted
an extension of time to do so, ECF Nos. 44, 48, 50, but he
did not file a Response.
claims against the State Defendants are ready for
adjudication. No hearing is required. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For reasons to follow, the State
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 43, will be treated as a
Motion for Summary Judgment, and granted.
filed the instant action against the State Defendants and two
Medical Defendants on September 2, 2016. ECF No. 1. On
September 8, 2017, the Court granted Medical Defendants
Krissi Cortez and Greg Flury's Motion to Dismiss or, in
the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment and denied their
Motion for Attorney's Fees and Costs without prejudice to
refiling upon disposition of the State Defendants'
claims. ECF No. 50.
Court incorporates here the facts and standard of review set
forth in its September 8, 2017 Memorandum Opinion. ECF No.
alleges that on September 25, 2013, Officer Ortt ordered him
to "cuff up" for an escort. ECF No. 1 at 2. Ortt
allegedly threatened Murphy that he could not "get away
from [Ortt], " a statement purportedly made in
retaliation for filing suit against other correct:onal staff
in Murphy v. Rounds, etctl., Civil Action No.
WDQ-13-2480 (D. Md. 2014). Id. Murphy claims that he
has a history of anxiety and depression, and that the
encounter with Ortt made aim anxious as he did not feel safe,
so he requested to see a mental health care provider.
la Officers Ortt and Portmess denied his request.
Murphy then observed Lt. Wilt and an extraction team standing
to the right side of his cell wearing protective gear,
initially out of his view so that he could not see them. ECF
No. 1 at 2-3. Murphy assumed Wilt was about to deploy
pepper spray into the cell, and asked Wilt if he could see
his mental health provider. Id. at 3. At the same
time, Murphy started to place his mattress in front of the
cell door. Id. This action "backfired, "
because instead of having a mental health provider "coax
him out, " Wilt "aimed to punish him" and
administered pepper spray into the cell. Id.
was taken from his cell for a medical evaluation, then
"forced" to remove his clothing and tennis shoes,
given a smock, forced to walk barefoot to the shower, and
placed in a shower "for about two seconds" and then
pulled out of the shower. ECF No. 1 ¶ 6. This, he
alleges, caused the pepper spray to trickle down and spread
instead of providing any relief. Id. Murphy claims
he told Wilt the shower was inadequate, but Wilt refused to
allow him a proper decontamination shower. Id.
Murphy claims Wilt's actions amounted to a wanton
infliction of pain. Id. Murphy states that he was
subsequently placed in a "strip cell" for seven
days where he was in pain from the burning caused by the
pepper spray. ECF No. 1 at 3 ¶ 7. enemy list on
OBSCIS." Id. The note continues that
"[documentation from other psych staff on 2/26/13 and
3/1/13 also indicates Intell was previously informed of
inmate's gang/safety concerns." Id. Murphy
claims that he was tied up and beaten by his cellmate, but
Defendants covered up the incident by saying that it was
staged. ECF No. 1 ¶ 15.
alleges that he became more depressed and disturbed as a
result of the excessive force incident. He faults Defendants
for failing to explain why they did not call mental health
staff prior to the cell extraction, causing him to feel
"trapped." ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 16-17.
relief, he asks for compensatory and punitive damages of
$500, 000 against each Defendant. ECF No. 1 ¶ 21.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
State Defendants' motion is styled as a Motion to
Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No.
20 at 1. If the Court considers materials outside the
pleadings, as the Court does here, the Court must treat a
motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(d). When the Court treats a motion to dismiss as a motion
for summary judgment, "[a]ll parties must be given a
reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is
pertinent to the motion." Id; see also Laughlin v.
Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61
(4th Cir. 1998). Furthermore, the Court may grant a motion
for summary judgment before the commencement of discovery.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (stating that the court
"shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact"
without distinguishing pre-or post-discovery).
judgment is appropriate if "materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ....
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, "
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), show 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);
see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the
burden of demonstrating that no genuine dispute exists as to
material facts. Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props.,
810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). If the moving party
demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to identify specific facts showing that there
is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 322-23. A material fact is one that "might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183
(4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material
fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence
favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to
return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248. However, the nonmoving party "cannot create a
genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or
the building of one inference upon another." Beale
v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). When ruling
on a motion for summary judgment, "[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. Murphy was provided notice of the State
Defendants' filing of exhibits and affidavits to support
the Motion for Summary Judgment and has not responded. ECF
support of their dispositive motion, the State Defendants
have filed verified evidence including a high-definition
first-person recording of Murphy's cell extraction,
declarations from correctional officers, and his prison
records. ECF No. 43. Because Murphy was provided an
opportunity to respond with exhibits and declarations, ECF
No. 44, the Court will treat Defendants' Motion as one
for summary judgment.
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