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Canter v. Moyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 26, 2018

AMBER MARIEE CANTER F/K/A CHARLES CANTER, Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN T. MOYER, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants Stephen Mover. Sharon Baucom. M.D.. Randall S. Nero. Bruce Liller, Lauren Beitzcl. and Assistant Warden Jeff Nines[1] move to dismiss the above-entitled civil rights action or in the alternative for summary judgment. ECF No. 17. Plaintiff opposes Defendants" Response to Show Cause, ECF No. 12. raising matters identical to those raised in Plaintiff's initial Motion for Preliminary Injunction. F.CF No. 3. and moves for appointment of counsel. ECF No. 14. No. hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons. Defendants" Motion is granted, in part, and denied, in part. Plaintiffs Motion for Appointment of Counsel is granted.

         1. BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff Amber Canter, formerly known as Charles Canter, is a person who is anatomically male, but identifies as female. At the time her Complaint was filed. Canter was incarcerated in North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCT"). an all-male prison located in Cumberland. Maryland and operated by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). While this case was pending. Canter was released on parole. See ECF No. 17-1 at 10; ECF No. 19. [3]

         In her Complaint. Canter asserts that she suffers from gender dysphoria but because of the DPSCS "freeze-frame" policy and its failure to provide an official diagnosis, she was denied hormone treatment resulting in numerous acts of self-injury (including attempts at self-castration) and approximately 18 attempts at suicide. ECF No. 1 at 8. Canter explains that she was receiving hormone treatment prior to her incarceration in 2013 on "the black market" from a doctor. Those treatments included injections with Premarin, an estrogen-based drug. In addition. Canter asserts that she developed breast lumps with leakage which were caused by withdrawal from estrogen, hi. at 10. Despite her many attempts on her own life. Canter claims the only treatment she received was 45 minutes of counseling once-a-month. When Canter sought hormone treatments from prison medical care providers, she was told she could not have them because she had not been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria by the psychology department at NBC I. Id. at 11.

         Cantor sought a preliminary injunction and Court Order requiring Defendants to provide treatment for her gender dysphoria. ECF No. 3. Thereafter, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause to Defendants to show why injunctive relief should not be granted in her favor, given the serious allegations raised. ECF No. 5. In response to that Order. Defendants maintained that Canter had not been identified as someone suffering gender dysphoria and provided assurances to the Court that Canter would be evaluated by a psychologist from Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Kraft, to better assess her needs for treatment. ECF No. 9. Defendants further stated that Canter would be reassessed for gender dysphoria on June 2, 2017. Id.

         Canter tiled a Reply on June 12. 2017. stating that there had been no reassessment as stated by Defendants, nor had she been seen by Dr. Kraft as represented by Defendants in their response. ECF No. 12. Subsequent to that Reply. Canter filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel. ECF No. 14. stating that the promised assessment by Dr. Kraft had yet to occur and that Defendants were not allowing Canter to have copies of her medical and mental health records. Canter further provided the name of counsel willing to represent her in this case. Id.

         Defendants" Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment restates the position made in the Response to Show Cause-that Canter was never diagnosed as suffering from gender dysphoria-and asserts that the claim for injunctive relief is now moot due to Canter's release from incarceration. ECF No. 17. The declarations under oath from Defendants Nero. Filler. Nines, and Beitzel assert that each declarant "did not delay, hinder or prevent Charles Canter from receiving mefn]tal health care." ECF Nos. 17-3. -4. -5, -6. Nines adds in his declaration under oath that he does not have any control over the delivery of mental health services to inmates and that the American Correctional Association accredited NBCT in January 2017. ECF No. 17-5. Filler, who is the Mental Health Program Manager at NBC1. states only that he is familiar with Canter and that psychological and psychiatric treatment are available to inmates at NBC1 upon request. ECF No. 1 7-4. None of the Defendants, all of whom aver they are "familiar" with Canter, provide any statements regarding Canter personally. There are no medical or psychology records submitted, nor do Defendants deny that Canter attempted suicide, engaged in self-injurious acts, and presented as female in appearance. Defendants do not address the failure to have Canter evaluated by Dr. Kraft prior to her release from incarceration, they simply rely on the fact that Canter was not diagnosed with gender dysphoria and therefore did not fall within the purview of the policy governing treatment of inmates suffering with gender dysphoria to otherwise warrant treatment. See ECF No. 17-1.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. I2(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of a plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. Galdsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir.1999). The Supreme Court has articulated the proper framework for analysis:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41. 47 (1957) (abrogated on other grounds). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 1 2(h)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ibid; Sanjuan v. American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247. 251 (7th Cir. 1994), a plaintiffs obligation to provide the "'grounds" of his "entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. see Papasan v. Attain, 478 U.S. 265. 286 (1986) (on a motion to dismiss, courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation"). Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, see 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216. pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004) (hereinafter Wright & Miller) ("[T]he pleading must contain something more . . . than ... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action"), on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact), see, e.g.. Swierkiewicz v. Sorenia N.A., 534 U.S. 506. 508 n.l (2002): Neitzke v. Williams. 490 U.S. 319. 327(1989) ("Rule I2(b)(6) does not countenance . . . dismissals based on a judge's disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations"): Scheuer v. Rhodes. 416 U.S. 232. 236 (1974) (a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that a recovery is very remote and unlikely").

Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly 550 U.S. 544. 555 (2007) (footnotes omitted).

         This standard does not require a defendant to establish "beyond doubt" that a plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Id. at 561. Once a claim has been staled adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint, Id. at 562. The Court need not. however, accept unsupported legal allegations, see Reverie v. Charles Cty Comm'rs,882 F.2d 870. 873 (4th Cir. 1989). legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, see Papasan v. Attain,478 U.S. 265. 286 (1986). or ...


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