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Clark v. Daddysman

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 22, 2018

HAMMEL J. CLARK, Plaintiff,


          THEODORE D. CHUANG United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Hammel J. Clark, a prisoner incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland, has brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden Richard J. Graham, Jr., former Assistant Warden Denise Gelsinger, Lt. Larry C. Bennett, Sgt. Jason A. Daddysman, Sgt. Thomas C. Menges, and Correctional Officer (“C.O.”) II Alicia A. Cartwright. Clark alleges that (1) Daddysman wrongfully took a religious headpiece from him; (2) Daddysman verbally and physically assaulted him as part of a pattern of harassment; (3) he was removed from the “honor building” and placed in a cell covered in human feces in retaliation for asserting complaints; and (4) his due process rights were violated when his administrative complaints about Daddysman and the headpiece's confiscation were mishandled and denied. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Clark has responded with his own Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment.[2] Having reviewing the pleadings, briefs, and exhibits, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary to decide the Motions. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Clark's Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment is DENIED.


          I. March 15, 2016 Incident

         On March 15, 2016 at approximately 9:00 a.m., Clark was in the WCI Medical Department for an appointment when Sgt. Daddysman, a correctional officer, noticed him. Clark is a practicing member of the Moorish Science Temple of America and regularly wears a kufi, a type of religious headpiece, to symbolize his faith. On this occasion, Daddysman approached Clark and asked him for his kufi. When Clark asked why, Daddysman first told him that it was not allowed because it was handmade, then after Clark continued to protest, he told Clark that the kufi was an unapproved color.

         According to Clark, who uses a wheelchair, at this point Daddysman pulled out his handcuffs with his right hand, put his left hand on Clark's right shoulder, pressed down, and told Clark to hand over the headpiece. Clark held himself up using his left arm, until his left arm slipped, which caused his arm to go “on the outside of [the] wheelchair” and his shoulder to go “down and bent forward.” ARP WCI-736-16 at 6, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 30, ECF No. 39-33. Clark felt “a little pulling something” in his left shoulder. Id. In the following days, Clark's shoulder began to hurt, and he could not raise his arm without pain. Daddysman denies assaulting Clark on this date, and there is no video footage of this incident.

         According to Clark, after Daddysman pressed down on his shoulder, Clark gave him the kufi. He asked to speak to a more senior officer, but was denied. Daddysman then filled out a confiscation form, gave it to Clark, and said, “Even if the hearing officer rule[s] for you, you still is not getting your shit back, I took it.” ARP WCI-695-16 at 21, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 24, ECF No. 39-27. He then called Clark a racial slur.

         Immediately after this interaction, Clark returned to his cell, where he learned that he was being moved out of the “honor building” and into a cell in Housing Unit No. 3, which he considered the worst unit in the prison. Clark alleges that this new cell had human feces and urine spread around in different spots, left behind by an inmate known to put his own feces all over his cell. When Clark refused to go into the filthy cell, the correctional officers threatened to place him in lock up. Clark asked to be put in one of the clean empty cells nearby, but that request was denied. According to Clark, he spent several days cleaning up the cell, feces got on his shoes, his wheelchair, and his hands, and the cell reeked of human waste even after the cleaning, so that he felt sick and could not eat. When he complained to Assistant Warden Denise Gelsinger about the conditions and Sgt. Daddysman's actions, she smiled and said, “Everybody gets a turn.” ARP WCI-756-16 at 25, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 31, ECF No. 39-34. She also asked him, “Did you ever stop to think it's just you?” Compl. at 27, ECF No. 4.[3] Clark remained in that cell for 14 days before he was returned to his original cell. Clark asked multiple correctional officers if they knew who had ordered his transfer to another cell. One officer, Lt. McKenzie, told him: “[I]t came from high up.” ARP WCI-756-16 at 26. Clark alleges that he was placed there in retaliation for standing up to Daddysman and for writing up complaints about Gelsinger in the past.

         In response, Defendants have submitted the declaration of Lt. Robert Carder, who states that Clark was moved to a new cell on March 15, 2016 due to institutional needs and not as retaliation. Carder denies that the cell was covered in feces or that Clark ever complained about its condition to correctional officers in charge of the housing unit, but he also states that Clark was provided with ample cleaning supplies when he was moved to the new cell.

         II. March 24, 2016 Incident

         Because he could not lift his arm over his head without pain, Clark submitted a sick call request on March 22, 2016 and was seen by medical personnel on March 24, 2016. Daddysman was assigned to the Medical Department that day. According to Clark, while he was being evaluated for his injury, Daddysman listened in. Clark tried to tell the nurses discreetly that Daddysman had caused his shoulder injury. After the nurses had examined Clark and given him a sling, they asked him to wait outside the door for the paperwork to be completed. Clark asked if he could wait somewhere away from Daddysman, but before the nurses could answer his request, Daddysman “violently and aggressively with force grab[bed] the back of my wheelchair and yanked me and my body, dragging me backwards.” Compl. at 13-14. Daddysman belligerently told Clark, “I don't ask nobody nothing, I just do what [I] am told.” Id. at 14.

         In response to these allegations, Defendants have submitted a declaration by Daddysman, who confirms that he was assigned to the Medical Department on March 24, 2016. He denies, however, that he violently grabbed Clark's wheelchair and yanked it around with Clark in it. C.O. II Mark Deatelhauser, who was also assigned to the Medical Department that day, has also stated in a declaration that he never saw Daddysman grab Clark's wheelchair or engage in the alleged conduct. There is no video footage of an incident between Clark and Daddysman on March 24, 2016.

         III. April 1, 2016 Incident

         On April 1, 2016, Clark returned to the Medical Department to have his shoulder x-rayed. Daddysman was again on duty. While Clark waited for his test results, Daddysman came by, told Clark that he could leave, then walked behind Clark as if to grab the wheelchair. Clark protested, saying, “No get off me, don't.” Id. at 16. Daddysman put his hands in the air and then kicked the back of Clark's wheelchair as Clark began to roll away. In his declaration, Daddysman denies kicking Clark's wheelchair on April 1, 2016 or ever having physically or verbally assaulted Clark.

         Daddysman's assertion, however, is belied by the video evidence. The record includes surveillance video of the Medical Department hallway on April 1, 2016 from 10:20:00 a.m. to 10:33:00 a.m. At 10:22:55, an inmate in a wheelchair, who appears to be Clark, exits a room into the hallway and stops to put on a sling. At 10:31:39, as Clark remains in the hallway, a correctional officer, presumably Daddysman, approaches and speaks to him. As Daddysman comes behind his wheelchair, Clark turns the wheelchair so that Daddysman cannot touch the handles. The officer briefly touches the wheelchair's right handle as the two appear to exchange words. At 10:31:48, the officer gestures for Clark to go down the hallway. As Clark turns and begins to move forward, Daddysman kicks the wheelchair with his right foot. The kick does not appear to have been delivered with much force, as the wheelchair does not jerk or change its forward momentum. Daddysman does not appear to touch Clark or the wheelchair again.

         IV. Medical Care

         On March 16, 2016, the day after his first incident with Daddysman, Clark was evaluated by a doctor but did not report that a correctional officer had injured his shoulder or that he had shoulder pain. However, between March 22, 2016 and August 13, 2016, Clark submitted 15 sick call requests about his shoulder. In the first request, submitted seven days after the March 15, 2016 incident with Daddysman, Clark stated, “I had an altercation with one of the officers on March 15, [20]16 where as he pressed down on my shoulder and back. I am having more pain in my spine throughout my back and now my shoulder is hurting real bad, ” noting that the pain was in his “left shoulder, throughout my back and spine.” Med. Records at 169, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 15, ECF No. 39-18. This request also states that his pain started “at this level” on March 17, 2016. Id. In these sick call requests, Clark consistently complained of extreme shoulder pain and that his shoulder kept popping out of its socket.

         On March 24, 2016, the first time that Clark saw medical personnel for his shoulder, Clark reported to them that he was experiencing left shoulder pain and that Daddysman had assaulted him by pressing down on his shoulder on March 15, 2016. The nurse who saw Clark on that date noted that Clark was not moving his arm and gave him a sling. Clark was seen again on April 1, 2016, where medical personnel again noted that Clark blamed his shoulder pain on a March 15, 2016 altercation with a correctional officer. At this time, x-rays of the left shoulder were ordered. The x-rays revealed no evidence of an acute fracture or dislocation.

         For the next several months, Clark continued to be evaluated regularly and was provided both pain medication and physical therapy. Clark consistently told medical providers that his left shoulder pain had been caused by a March 2016 incident with a correctional officer. For example, notes from a June 18, 2016 medical appointment state:

[Clark] states injury first occurred in March 2016. [H]e reports altercation occur[red] with officer, he state[s] the officer leaned against the opposite shoulder . . . inmate reports he pushed up with his affected side to get officer off him[.] [U]ltimately he states his left . . . arm slipped off [wheelchair] arm rest, he states 2 days later his shoulder spontaneously dislocated but resolved with manual assistance that he does himself. [H]e states his shoulder has dislocated over 25 times since first happened.

Id. at 53.

         On November 28, 2016, Clark underwent magnetic resonance imaging (“MRI”) on his left shoulder. The MRI found “[p]rominent arthritic change at the glenohumeral joint and mild arthritic change at the AC joint.” Supp. Med. Records at 419, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 8, ECF No. 70-8. His rotator cuff was intact. On February 28, 2017, Clark was examined by an orthopedist, who ordered additional x-rays and suggested that Clark may need surgery to repair his rotator cuff if it was torn. An x-ray on March 2, 2017 showed “mild degenerative changes” in Clark's left shoulder joint. Id. at 418. Clark underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery on May 23, 2017 to address his arthritis and to repair a torn left rotator cuff.

         V. Administrative Remedy Procedure

         Clark further alleges that the correctional personnel at WCI who respond to prisoners' administrative complaints filed under the Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARPs”) have denied him his due process rights. He alleges that they unnecessarily require him to re-write and re-submit his ARPs, impose additional requirements on him, switch the numbers on his cases, and intentionally delay their responses to his complaints.

         Clark has filed a sizable number of ARPs. His ARP Index shows that from August 18, 2008 to January 17, 2017, he filed 59 ARPs at WCI. Seven of the ARPs, filed from March 2016 to April 2016, related to the three alleged assaults by Daddysman, the confiscation of Clark's religious headpiece, and the March 15, 2016 cell transfer. In April 2016 and June 2016, Clark filed two ARPs against the ARP coordinators for the manner in which they processed his complaints. In June 2016, WCI limited Clark to filing two ARPs a month because, after he had filed 22 ARPs in the preceding six months, none had been found meritorious.

         In response to Clark's claims that WCI personnel have undermined his use of ARP complaints, Defendants have submitted declarations from WCI's ARP Coordinators, Sgt. Menges and C.O. II Cartwright, who both affirm that all ARPs received at WCI are logged and investigated in accordance with Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”) Directives. Menges and Cartwright also assert that they have never attempted to hinder or stop Clark from pursuing the ARP process.

         Although Clark alleges that the ARP coordinators thwarted his complaints, his ARPs about the March 15, 2016 and March 24, 2016 incidents resulted in an Internal Investigation Division (“IID”) investigation. The investigator interviewed Clark, Daddysman, and personnel who were in the Medical Department on March 15, 2016. The investigator also interviewed a security official who reviewed surveillance video of these incidents. The investigator concluded that there was no evidence to support Clark's allegations. The surveillance video from those dates was no longer available, the individual who reviewed the surveillance video after Clark's complaints ...

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