United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOSEPH D. BLACK, # 283-6537, Plaintiff
EASTERN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, LT. WILLIAM CLAYTON, CO. II ADRIAN CHRISTOPHER, WARDEN RICKY FOXWELL, OFFICER DANIEL ARNDT, Defendants
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joseph Black filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action seeking
money damages against Eastern Correctional Institution
("ECI") and several of its employees. ECF No. 1.
Black claims that Officers Clayton and Arndt violated his
constitutional rights by assaulting him during a March 14,
2017 strip search conducted in a location that was visible by
others, including female corrections officers. ECF No. 1 at
3; ECF No. 13 at 3; ECF No. 34. Black claims that Officer
Christopher then retaliated against him for
complaining about the strip-search incident by discarding his
mail, preventing him from doing certain activities like
taking showers, withholding food, mail, and commissary
purchases, and placing him in danger by telling other inmates
that Black was cooperating with law enforcement officers. ECF
No. 1 at 3-4; ECF No. 13 at 3. Black also claims that Warden
Foxwell failed to address his complaints about
filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment. ECF No. 27. Consonant with the dictates of
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975),
Black was notified the Motion could be treated as a Motion
for Summary Judgment and he was entitled to file an
opposition with supporting material. ECF No. 28. Black has
filed a Response in Opposition. ECF No. 31.
Motion is ripe for disposition. After considering the
pleadings, exhibits, and applicable law, the Court now rules
pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016), as a hearing is
unnecessary. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS
the Motion to Dismiss as to ECI and DENIES the Motion to
Dismiss as to all claims against all other Defendants; GRANTS
the Motion for Summary Judgment as to Foxwell; and DENIES the
Motion for Summary Judgment as to Clayton, Christopher and
reviewing the complaint in light of a Motion to Dismiss
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6) the Court accepts all
well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and
construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived there
from in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. E.I.
du Pont de Nemours and Co. v. Kolon Industries, Inc.,
637 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2011); Venkatraman v. REI
Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005), citing
Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130,
1134 (4th Cir. 1993); Ibarra v. United States, 120
F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997). In doing so, this Court has an
obligation to liberally construe a self-represented
plaintiffs pleadings, see Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), and must assume the
factual allegations to be true. Id. at 93, citing
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
(2007). Nonetheless, liberal construction does not mean that
this Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to
allege facts which set forth a cognizable claim. See
Wetter v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th
Cir. 1990); see also Beaudett v. City of Hampton,
775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (stating a district court
may not "conjure up questions never squarely
presented."). Although a complaint need not contain
detailed allegations, the facts alleged must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level and
require "more than labels and conclusions, " as
"courts 'are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'"
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
complaint does not need "detailed factual
allegations" to survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. at 555. Instead, "once a claim has been
stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of
facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint."
Id. at 563. To survive a motion to dismiss, "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, 677-78 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678. "But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the
court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct,
the complaint has alleged -- but it has not 'show[n]'
- 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'"
Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by
showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in
the complaint." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563
(citing Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology,
Inc., 40 F.3d, 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994) (once a claim
for relief has been stated, a plaintiff "receives the
benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are
consistent with the complaint.")). Black's
allegations against Defendants Clayton, Arndt, and Foxwell
survive dismissal under this standard as a matter of
As noted, the claim as to Eastern Correctional Institution
must be dismissed as it is not a proper party in a §1983
motion, styled as a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment under Rule 56, implicates the Court's discretion
under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See Kensington Vol. Fire Dep't, Inc. v. Montgomery
Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011).
Ordinarily, a court "is not to consider matters outside
the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a
motion to dismiss." Bosiger v. U.S. Airways,
510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule
12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters
outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the
court does so, "the motion must be treated as one for
summary judgment under Rule 56, " and "[a]ll
parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all
the material that is pertinent to the motion."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the movant expressly captions its
motion "in the alternative" as one for summary
judgment and submits matters outside the pleadings for the
court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on
notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court
"does not have an obligation to notify parties of the
obvious." Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports
Auth, 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998). Because
Defendants have filed and relied on declarations and exhibits
attached to their dispositive motion, their motion shall be
treated as one for summary judgment.
judgment is governed by Rule 56(a), which provides in
relevant part that "[t]he court shall grant summary
judgment 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." In analyzing a summary
judgment motion, the Court must "view the evidence in
the light most favorable to ... the nonmovant, and draw all
reasonable inferences in her favor without weighing the
evidence or assessing the witnesses' credibility."
Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290
F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002); see Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986); FDIC v. Cushion, 720 F.3d 169, 173 (4th
party opposing a properly supported motion for summary
judgment 'may not rest upon the mere allegations or
denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must 'set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.' " Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003)
(alteration in original) (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
Although Black's submissions are liberally construed,
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94, this Court must also abide
by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to
prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from
proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526
(internal quotation marks omitted).
asserts that on March 14, 2017, correctional officers at ECI
planned to move him from his cell to administrative
segregation housing based on disciplinary charges issued by
Defendant Clayton. ECF No. 27-6 at 8-9; ECF No. 27-8 at 10.
Black alleges that, at the start of the moving process,
[C]ame to my cell and advised me that this is a shake down
then he took me and my cell buddy from out [of] our cell and
put us in the top day room in[ ]front of passing inmates and
female officers and male officers then told us to strip take
off all our clo[thes.] [T]hen as I was doing as I was told I
was then ... advised me [sic] to separate my private parts
then put my hands inside my mouth and move my fingers around
then I was told to drop open my butt using both hands and
then show both bottom of my feet[.] Also I was told to cough
twice[.] Now after I did everything that I was told to do[, ]
now once more I am being told to bend over and hold open my
butt hole[.] I said I've already done that then Officer
Clayton and his partner[, who Plaintiff subsequently
identified as Officer Arndt (ECF No. 34), ] attacked me from
behind and started chocking [sic] me and screaming open your
butt now[.] Then Officer Clayton stuck his hand up in my
rectum with so much force causing me so much pain that I just
gave up while he sexually assault[ed] me till he [saw there]
was nothing in my rectum or on my person.
ECF No. 1 at 3, 5 (capitalization altered). Black states that
for an unspecified time after the incident, his "rectum
was in so much pain [he] couldn't use the bathroom for
days at a time." ECF No. 1 at 4 (capitalization
reported these actions to Foxwell, and a Prison Rape
Elimination Act ("PREA") investigation was convened.
Black claims that following his PREA claim and complaints
against Clayton and Arndt for their alleged actions during
the strip search, Christopher and other officers, not named
as Defendants here, began to retaliate against him. ECF No.
1, p. 3. Black alleges that despite being informed of the
retaliatory actions by his staff, Warden Foxwell failed to
correct the actions of his employees. ECF No. 13 at 1.
note that prior to placement in administrative segregation,
inmates routinely are examined by medical staff. See
ECF No. 27-4 at 9. Accordingly, after Clayton and Arndt
removed Black from his cell and searched for contraband, they
took him to the medical unit. There, Black informed staff
that he wished to make a Prison Rape Elimination Act
("PREA") complaint against Clayton and Arndt based
on the search. ECF No. 27-5 at 14. Black refused to make a
written statement at that time. ECF No. 27-5 at 12. According
to Nurse Amanda Morris, Black refused to be physically
examined and appeared very agitated. ECF No. 27-4 at 13.
Nonetheless, Black was "[c]leared by medical" for
placement in administrative segregation. Id.
provide the following details concerning Black's medical
care following the incident. On March 24, 2017, ten days
after the alleged assault, a registered nurse saw Black. ...