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Calloway v. Wolfe

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 16, 2018

WARDEN WOLFE, et al. Defendants.


          GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge.

         In response to Plaintiff Ezra Charles Calloway Jr.'s pro se civil rights complaint alleging inadequate conditions of confinement and medical care while incarcerated, Defendants Warden John Wolfe, Lt. Matthew Mitchell, and Officer Yeselle Fidderman (collectively, "Correctional Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 17. Defendants Danielle Ballard, Ruth Pinkney, P.A., Paul Matera, M.D., and Jason Clem, M.D. (collectively, "Medical Defendants") filed a similar motion. ECF No. 22.[1] Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 26, which the Court will also construe as an opposition to Defendants' motions. ECF No. 26. The Correctional and Medical Defendants have filed responses to Plaintiffs motion. See ECF Nos. 27, 28. No hearing is necessary to resolve the matters pending before the Court. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated herein. Defendants' Motions shall be granted and Plaintiffs Motion denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate committed to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and confined at all times relevant to the complaint to the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"). Plaintiff claims that he fell from an upper bunk on August 11, 2016, resulting in an injury to his fingsr. ECF No. 4 at 3.[3] He states that he was asleep in the upper bunk, it was "seriously hot without a fan, " and he "ended up falling off the top bunk." Id. Plaintiff injured his right pinkie finger, "splitting it on both sides to the bone and losing [his] nail." Id. When he landed, Plaintiff claims he hit the right side of his head, causing "pain and stiffness in [his] neck on the left side." Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that Officers Fidderman and Smith were assigned to the tier where he was housed and the injury occurred. Id. When Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint, or "grievance, " with the "7-3 shift, " Lt. Mitchell refused to sign the receipt because Plaintiff had raised complaints about more than one issue. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff states he initially filed the administrative complaint on August 24, 2016, but had to re-write it so many times it "did not get signed and acknowledged until September 6, 2016." Id. at 4. Although not clearly stated in the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff appears to have raised a claim in his administrative complaint that the double bunk from which he fell was constructed in such a manner as to make it unsafe for use. He explains that the bunks have no protective guards or railing and no ladders. Id. He states the bunks were originally designed as single beds, but are now welded together to form bunk beds "with nothing to protect one from falling off while asleep." Id.

         Plaintiff states he was admitted to the "medical ward" the day after he injured his finger. Id. He claims that "the entire medical department staff at [ECI] was responsible for my unadequate (sic) medical care." Id. Plaintiff alleges he was under the care of medical staff from August 12, 2016 through August 22, 2016, and complains he was discharged "without any dressings for my wound and pain medication relisf." Id. He claims that medical care was improper because it took 24 hours for him to receive pain medication and another 24 hours to receive bandages "to keep it covered and clean from the bacteria." Id. He states that the "doctor and P.A. was (sic) responsible for prescribing these things . .. once [he] was discharged." Id. Plaintiff states that the medical care provided was improper because he was not sent directly to a hospital and has not been seen by a "nerve hand specialist." Id. Rather, he states he has "only seen an in-house Orthopedist who recommended therapy." Id. The therapy had just started ir. November of 2016, and Plaintiff claims it was not working and sometimes made the pain wcrse. Id. He claims he still has pain in his neck.


         To survive a motion to dismiss invoking Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), "£ 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) (quoting Bell Atlantic Co-p. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is lieble for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "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).

         The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) "is to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th C.r. 2006) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, " and must "draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff." E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kohn Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court need not, however, accept unsupported legal allegations, see Revene v. Charles County Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events. United Black Firefighters of Norfolk v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).

         Defendants' motions are styled as Motions to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motions for Summary Judgment. If the Court considers materials outside the pleadings, 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. When the moving party styles its motion as a "Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, " as is the case here, and attaches additional materials to its motion, the nonmoving party is, of couise, 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). Further, the Court is not prohibited from granting 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). Summary judgment is appropriate if "materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ... admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, " 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« and 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, Ml 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, Ml 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).


         The Eighth Amendment prohibits "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" by virtue of its guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide him with a safe bed and failing to provide adequate medical care after Plaintiff fell cut of the bed on August 11, 2016. Each claim is addressed in turn.[4]

         A. Conditions of Confinement

         Conditions that "deprive inmates of:he minimal civilized measure of life's necessities" may amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Rhodes v. Chapman,452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). "In order to establish the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment, a prisoner must prove two elements-that 'the deprivation of [a] basic human need was objectively sufficiently serious' and that 'subjectively the officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind.'" Shakka v. Smith,71 F.3d 162, 166 (4th Cir. 1995) (emphasis in original) (citation omitted). "These requirements spring from the text of the amendment itself, absent intentionality, a condition imposed on an inmate cannot properly be called 'punishment, ' and absent ...

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