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Beall v. Ujoatuonu

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 23, 2018

RICHARD HOWARD BEALL, JR. #13801 Plaintiff,
v.
MACAULEY UJOATUONU Defendant.[1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Richard Howard Beall. Jr. is committed to the Maryland Department of Health ("the Department"). He claims that Defendant Macauley Ujoaluonu. a nurse employed at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center ("Perkins"), violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force against him and administering medication against his will. ECF Nos. 1. 4. 5, [2] Now pending before the Court is Defendant's unopposed Motion to Dismiss or. in the Alternative. Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 10.[3] Counsel for the Department has also filed a court-ordered report on Beall's mental health status to assist in determining whether appointment of a guardian ad litem is necessary. ECF No. 9. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow. Defendant's Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is granted, in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Beall initiated this case on October 13. 2016 by filing a Complaint that he later supplemented at the Court's direction and then filed another supplement, alleging that in May of 2016, Defendant restrained him with excessive force in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. ECF Nos. 1: 4. Beall claims that although he tried to be compliant, he was subjected to pain and torture. He claims he was placed in cervical restraints, his head was pushed back, and he was injected with medication. ECF No. 4 at 3.[4] Beall claims Defendant "put a pen in my neck threat[en]ing me." Id. at 4. Beall avers videotape recordings of the incident were lost. ECF No. 1. at 3. Beall's request for relief includes damages, an investigation, release from Perkins, and entry into a witness protection program. Id.

         The record, as set forth in Defendant's Motion, and without response from Plaintiff. provides a detailed description of the events underlying Plaintiffs Complaint. On May 31. 2016 at 8:20 p.m.. Beall approached a nurse's station. He refused his medication (Olanzepine). as well as an intramuscular injection of the medication as an alternative. ECF No. 10-6 at 1 (Progress Note of Maeauley Ujoatuonu dated May 31. 2016). Beall indicated that he would not accept the intramuscular medication and "refused redirection" when asked to leave the nurse's station so that other patients could receive their medication, hi. Beall then reached through the open window of the nurse's station and punched Defendant in the face. Id. Beall remained combative while staff placed him into a restraint chair, using his head to hit Defendant's lower abdomen while he was being restrained. Id. When the nurse manager came to assess him. Beall was uncooperative and said fuck you bitch." Id.

         At 8:45 p.m.. Dr. Sameer Patel assessed Beall and found the staffs response appropriate because Beall had created an imminent danger as a result of punching a nurse and remaining combative when the staff restrained him. See ECF No. 10-7. Patel reported that at 9:00 p.m. Beall threatened that he would "get the RN." Id. Patel approved Beall's placement in a chair restraint for four hours. Beall was assessed by staff every fifteen minutes. F. (T No. 10-8. During these assessments, he was found to be a serious and imminent threat to himself. At 10:15 p.m.. Beall was released from the restraint chair and returned to his room. Id. After being released from restraint that evening. Beall did not indicate he was injured or complain to the treatment team. ECF No. 10-9. On the following day. June 1, 2016. Beall refused his morning medication (Valproic Acid and Fluphenazine hydorcloride) and was administered his medication by injection. Id.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Defendant's Motion is styled as a Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(6) or, in the Alternative, for Summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. If the Court considers materials outside the pleadings, as it 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. Based on the title of Defendant's Motion alone. Beall "was on notice that this motion might be treated as one for summary judgment." See Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports. Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260 (4th Cir. 1998). Beall was served with a copy of Defendant's Motion and accompanying attachments and provided with a Rosehoro notice, which advised him of the pendency of the motion for summary judgment and that he was entitled to respond with affidavits, declarations, or other materials contesting the evidence filed by Defendant. See ECF Nos. 10 at 2:11: see also Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 178 (4th Cir. 1985) ("When a party is aware that material outside the pleadings is before the court. the party is on notice that a Rule 12(b)(6) motion may be treated as a motion for summary judgment."). Beall has not elected to provide a response or request discovery, and the Court is satisfied that it is appropriate to address Defendant's Motion as one for summary judgment.

         Granting 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(c). 56(a); see also Celolex Corp. v. Cutretl, 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 non-moving party's case, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to identify specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Celolex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

         A material fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Springs 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." Beetle v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213. 214 (4th Cir. 1985). The Court may only rely on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings, in order to fulfill its "affirmative obligation . .. to prevent 'factually unsupported claims or defenses' from proceeding to trial." Felly v. Grave-Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126. 1128 (4th Cir. 1987) (quoting (Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324-25). 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.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Guardian Ad Litem

         In accordance with the Court's February 2. 2017 Order. ECF No. 7. counsel for the Department filed a report on Beall's mental health status to assist the Court in deciding whether appointment of a guardian ad litem is necessary. ECF No. 9. Rule 17(c)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires courts to appoint a guardian ad litem or take other appropriate action to protect an incompetent person. Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(c)(2) states:

A minor or an incompetent person who does not have a duly appointed representative may sue by a next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court must appoint a guardian ad litem-or issue another appropriate order-to protect a minor ...

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