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McFadden v. Butler

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 16, 2018




         Plaintiff Tashma McFadden, currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution-Schuylkill in Minersville, Pennsylvania, has filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants Correctional Officer II ("CO.") Tiara Butler, a correctional officer at the Chesapeake Detention Facility ("CDF") in Baltimore, Maryland; former CDF Chief of Security Donna Hansen; former CDF Warden Robert Koppel; and Corporal Susan Fraser, another CDF correctional officer, violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from harm while he was a pretrial detainee at CDF and was attacked and injured by another detainee. McFadden also alleges that he was improperly placed on administrative segregation for 12 days following the attack, and that CO. Butler and Cpl. Fraser engaged in a civil conspiracy to deprive him of protection. As relief, McFadden seeks $800, 000 in punitive damages for negligence, pain, and suffering. Presently pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment filed by all Defendants except Cpl. Fraser, who was not properly served. Upon review of the submitted materials, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6 (2016). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, is GRANTED.


         On May 17, 2015, McFadden was a federal pretrial detainee housed at CDF in a unit known as Echo Pod Quad 4. At approximately 8:01 p.m., McFadden was speaking on a telephone in the unit when he was attacked from behind by another detainee, David Braxton. According to a surveillance video of the incident, Braxton approached McFadden while McFadden's back was turned to the room, then rapidly slashed at him with an unidentified weapon approximately eight times. CO. Butler, assigned as a control center officer and able to view a live surveillance feed of the incident, immediately notified CDF staff of the attack and called over an intercom for McFadden to run to safety. McFadden briefly struggled with Braxton, then managed to escape by running out a nearby door before it was closed.

         McFadden, who was stabbed multiple times, was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where nine staples were placed in the side and back of his head. Pursuant to CDF policy, a "Notice of Inmate Rule Violation" was issued to Braxton, McFadden, and Keith Demby, another inmate assaulted by Braxton in the same incident. Butler Decl. ¶¶ 8-9, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 3, ECF No. 31-4. According to McFadden, Warden Koppel and Chief of Security Hansen reviewed the surveillance footage of the attack, then placed McFadden in administrative segregation for 12 days following the incident. On June 2, 2015, McFadden appeared at a hearing on the alleged rule violation and was found not guilty because the video showed that he was merely the victim of an assault.

         Nearly five months after the assault, on October 5, 2015, McFadden filed an "Informal Inmate Complaint Form, " stating that he was stabbed six times on May 17, 2015 and that since then he had "complained about severe headaches, insomnia, weight loss and depression and received only Tylenol from medical." CDF Records at 2, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1, ECF No. 31-2. It is not clear if McFadden filed a more formal complaint under Maryland's Administrative Remedy Procedure, but it is clear that McFadden never filed a complaint with Maryland's Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO").

         The CDF Internal Investigative Division ("IID") assigned Detective Bruce Jenkins to investigate the assault on McFadden. When Jenkins interviewed McFadden on December 11, 2015, McFadden told him that he did not want to pursue criminal charges against Braxton. McFadden said he was "not sure" whether Braxton was the individual who assaulted him. IID Report at 12, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 4, ECF No. 31-5. Instead, McFadden stated he wanted to press charges against the facility. On December 18, 2015, Detective Jenkins filed charges in the District Court for Baltimore City, Maryland against Braxton for Second Degree Assault.


         In their Motion, Defendants seek dismissal of the Complaint or summary judgment in their favor on several grounds, including: (1) McFadden failed to exhaust available administrative remedies; and (2) McFadden fails to state a valid claim for relief under § 1983. Because the Court finds that Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on these grounds, the Court need not address Defendants' remaining arguments.

         I. Legal Standard

         Because Defendants have submitted evidence for the Court's review, that evidence includes critical evidence such as the surveillance video, and McFadden has not requested or demonstrated a need for discovery, the Motion is construed as a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003).

         The nonmoving party has the burden to show a genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. 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. Id. at 248-49. If "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, " then a dispute of material fact precludes summary judgment. Id. at 248; see Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013). However, summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence "is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. "[T]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiffs position will be insufficient" to preclude summary judgment. Id.

         II. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Defendants assert the failure to exhaust administrative remedies as an affirmative defense, arguing that McFadden did not file a timely administrative complaint based on the May 17, 2015 incident. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104- 134 § 803, 110 ...

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