United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge
Michael Jones, a/k/a Sincere Allah is incarcerated at North
Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”) in
Cumberland, Maryland. He raises in this verified complaint
claims of excessive force, unconditional conditions of
confinement, inadequate mental and medical care, retaliation,
and unequal treatment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.
Compl., ECF No. 4. He is requesting injunctive relief and
monetary damages. Id.
response, Defendants April Shipley, LPN, William Bilak, R.N.,
and Vicki Ward, LPN (collectively, “Medical
Defendants”) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF
No. 34. Defendants Warden Frank Bishop, Chief of Security
William S. Bohrer, Major Ronald Stotler, Lieutenant Michael
Oates, Lieutenant Bradley Wilt, Lieutenant Patrick Speir,
Lieutenant Robert Werner, Lieutenant Thomas Sawyers, Sergeant
Charles Bielanski, Sergeant Adam Schroyer, Correctional
Officer Timothy Marchinke, Correctional Officer Shawn Murray,
Correctional Officer Brandon Self, Correctional Officer
Warren Mallow, Correctional Officer Cody Gilpin, Correctional
Officer H. Michael, Correctional Officer Justin Weimer,
Correctional Officer Justin Sellers, Mental Health
Professional Counselor Laura Wilson, and Psychology Associate
I Lauren Beitzel (collectively, the “State
Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 38.
Defendants Vincent Siracusano, M.D., and Jeanette Simmons
filed separate motions to dismiss. ECF Nos. 36,
Clerk sent notice to the plaintiff informing him that he may
respond to the motions and submit affidavits and exhibits in
support and granted his motions for extension of time to file
oppositions. ECF Nos. 35, 37, 39, 40, 48. The plaintiff filed
a response in opposition. ECF No. 49. The plaintiff also
filed a notice for voluntary dismissal on March 27, 2018. ECF
Maryland inmate, who asked not to be publicly identified for
fear of retaliation, sent correspondence to the court
alleging that Sincere Allah was subjected to retaliation by
officers and medical staff for throwing feces at a
correctional officer, was off his medication and suffering
psychotic episodes and suicidal ideations, and was not
receiving medical and mental health care. ECF No. 1. The
court directed the Department of Public Safety and
Correctional Services (“DPSCS”) to file a report
on the plaintiff's physical and mental condition within
twenty-one days. ECF No. 2. The court directed the Clerk to
send a civil rights complaint form and instructions packet to
Sincere Allah should he wish to pursue these or other claims.
September 9, 2016, the Attorney General's Office filed
the court-ordered report on the plaintiff's physical and
mental condition, which included the declaration of Monica A.
Wilson, a DPSCS social worker, and 22 pages of the
plaintiff's medical records. ECF Nos. 6, 6-1, 6-2.
Wilson's declaration stated that over the course of the
past six months, Wilson had met with the plaintiff for seven
individual sessions. Psychology staff met with him five times
in the same time period. ECF No. 6-1 ¶ 3. The plaintiff
was seen several times for suicidal ideations and self-harm,
including cutting himself with his fingernails and paint
chips. The plaintiff, however, denied feeling suicidal,
indicated his desire to return to his cell, and told medical
providers he had wanted attention and to “get back at
staff.” Id. His cuts were treated with band
September 8, 2016, the plaintiff filed a 31-page handwritten
complaint titled “Supplement to the Complaint”
which he submitted in the form of an affidavit. ECF No. 4.
The court treats this filing as the plaintiff's
complaint. The plaintiff also filed twenty-four pages of
exhibits and a declaration. Pl.'s Attachments, ECF Nos.
gravamen of the complaint is that correctional officers and
medical staff deprived the plaintiff of mental health and
medical care, including prescription medication, and
subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement
in retaliation for his assault on a correctional officer on
August 5, 2016. Compl.; see also Serious Incident Report,
State Def. Ex. 18, ECF No. 38-20. The plaintiff admits that
he had flooded his tier on August 3, 2016 and assaulted an
officer by spraying urine on him. Compl. ¶¶ 46, 49.
He blames these actions, however, on lack of adequate medical
and mental health care, including the discontinuation of his
psychotropic medications. Id. ¶
He states that he was taken off “all his medication,
because they stated that he was caught on tape passing his
medication to another inmate which was a mendacious statement
and a form of retaliation.” Id. ¶ 43.
Further, he alleges: 1) correctional staff tamper with his
mail; 2) correctional officers refuse to accept his Inmate
Grievance Office (“IGO”) forms for mailing; 3) he
is not receiving treatment for severe pain in his neck, back,
stomach, and headaches and spitting up blood and “green
stuff”; 4) he is receiving inadequate medical
treatment; 5) mental health provider Lauren A. Beitzel
“lies for the correctional officers” and refuses
his requests to see a psychologist; and 6) Officer Murray
refused him an emergency pass to see the dentist on August 1,
2016, which caused him to suffer extreme pain, lose
“control, ” and flood the tier on August 3, 2016.
Compl. ¶¶ 39-42, 45-47, 67-68.
plaintiff explains that on August 3, 2016, he asked Officer
Murray if he had an institutional pass. Murray replied in the
negative, and stated “even if you did you won't be
go [sic], now you can write me up for that to[o].”
Compl. ¶¶ 44-45. The plaintiff flooded the tier,
claiming his loss of “complete control” resulted
because Officer Murray denied him a pass to see the dentist,
and Officer Marchinke refused to speak to him about
Murray's refusal. Id. ¶ 46.
5, 2016 Incident 
plaintiff alleges Officer Self gave him a bag lunch instead
of a hot lunch and threatened to “spray” him and
called him a “dead niggar.” Id. ¶
48. About twenty minutes later, the plaintiff admits that he
“sprayed [Officer Self] down with piss.”
Id. ¶ 49. An hour later, Lieutenant Spiers
ordered plaintiff to cuff-up and exit the cell. The plaintiff
initially refused, then agreed before the cell extraction
team arrived. Officer Spiers told the plaintiff that it was
“to[o] late for that” and walked away.
Id. ¶ 50.
thirty minutes later, Lieutenant Bradley Wilt, accompanied by
Officer Marchinke, Sergeant Werner, and approximately six
other officers, ordered the plaintiff to the cell door slot
to be handcuffed. Once the plaintiff was handcuffed, the cell
door opened, and Wilt grabbed the plaintiff by the neck and
“for no reason” forcefully pushed his head toward
the floor. Id. ¶ 51-52. Officer Marchinke and
one other officer bent plaintiff's arms until his
shoulders popped and started to pull him down the hall. Wilt
ordered the officers to pull him so as to dislocate his
shoulders. Id. Plaintiff was put in a strip cage and
searched. Id. ¶ 53.
Amy” then evaluated plaintiff for his complaints of
excruciating neck, back, and shoulder pain. Plaintiff told
her that he could not breathe, and asked for his inhaler.
“Nurse Amy” replied “to [sic] bad nigger,
you should have not assaulted an officer, ” and turned
to the camera to state that the plaintiff was fine.
Id. ¶ 53. Wilt placed a spit mask on the
plaintiff, even though the plaintiff claims that he could not
breathe, and directed Officer Murray to store his property.
At Wilt's direction Marchinke and another officer dragged
the plaintiff to his cell with his hands above his head. He
was placed back in a cell without running water, toilet
paper, a mattress, or his personal property. Id.
plaintiff asserts that he declared a hunger strike on August
5, 2016, because he was given a “meal loaf.” He
claims meal loaf is unconstitutional. He posits that he was
the only inmate on the segregation tier provided meal loaf,
and that two white inmates who threw urine on an officer did
not face the same repercussions. The plaintiff asserts that
one of the white inmates was not placed on meal loaf or
denied running water in their cell, and that the other was
placed on staff alert,  but not deprived of his property.
Id. ¶ 60. According to Defendants, the
plaintiff was placed on a special management meal (also
called meal loaf) for seven days and a container restriction.
Status Report Ex. 2, Pertinent Med. Records at 7; State Def.
Ex. 21, Daily Events Log, Aug. 5, 2016 at 1, ECF No. 38-23.
Defendants also claim that the plaintiff refused a mattress.
State Def. Ex. 21, Daily Events Log, Aug. 5, 2016 at 1.
plaintiff remained on staff alert from August 5, 2016 to
August 18, 2016. Ex. 23, Record of Segregation Confinement at
6, ECF No. 38-25; State Def. Ex. 19, Staff Alert Designation,
ECF No. 38-21 (noting the plaintiff's continuing
disruptive behaviors toward staff); State Def. Ex. 21, Daily
Events Log, Aug. 5, 2016. On the evening of August 5, 2016,
Nurse Kelly Fincham examined the plaintiff for a one-inch
laceration on his right wrist. State Def. Ex. 5, Relevant
Med. Records at 6, ECF No. 38-5. There was no bleeding or
swelling, and the laceration appeared to be healing. Fincham
cleaned the cut, applied an antibiotic ointment and covered
it with a bandage. Id. The plaintiff refused to
explain how he received the laceration. Id.
on the August 5, 2016, incident, the plaintiff was charged
with and later found guilty of violating prison rules 101
(assault or battery on staff), 105 (possession, use, or
manufacture of a weapon), 312 (interfering with or resisting
performance of staff duties including search of a person, or
area), and 405 (demonstrating disrespect or use of vulgar
language). Sanctions, including disciplinary segregation,
were imposed. State Def. Ex. 20, Inmate Hearing Record at 2,
14, 16, ECF No. 38-22.
8, 2016 Incident
August 8, 2016, Officer Murray ordered the plaintiff to leave
his cell for a “bar check.” Compl. ¶ 61.
The plaintiff refused unless staff alert protocol was
followed to include recording his exit in the presence of
another officer and a sergeant. Id. After Officer
Durst, Sergeant Werner, Lieutenant Wilt, Officer
Beechy and five other unnamed officers arrived,
the plaintiff agreed to leave his cell. After the plaintiff
was handcuffed, Lt. Wilt allegedly grabbed him by his neck
and forced his head down to the floor. Wilt stated
“mother fuck your [sic] not going to spit on me.”
Id. ¶ 62. The plaintiff alleges Wilt accused
him of spitting to justify the assault. Wilt told officers
that the plaintiff has asthma and to put him in a cell where
the windows were locked so that the heat will kill him.
Id. The plaintiff was escorted to another cell,
where Wilt, knowing that the plaintiff suffered jaw problems,
stuck his thumb and finger into the plaintiff's jaw three
or four times, causing him extreme pain. Id. ¶
63. An unidentified correctional officer put his knee on the
plaintiff's throat and started closing the cell door,
while pulling the tether attached to his handcuffs. The
plaintiff alleges they tried to pull him up by his hands and
shoulders for no reason. Officers pulled his arms out of the
food slot in the cell door and pushed down on his wrists and
pulled his handcuffs, which was painful and cut the
plaintiff's wrists. The plaintiff claims he was then
denied medical treatment. Id.
the plaintiff left his cell, officers searched it and found a
hidden milk carton, which was contraband because he was on a
container restriction for his earlier assault on Officer
Self. State Def. Ex. 20, Inmate Hearing Record at 11. He was
charged with and, after a formal hearing, found guilty of
violating institutional rules 312 (interference or resistance
to staff duties), 400 (disobeying an order) and 406
(possession of contraband). Id. Ultimately, the
plaintiff was found guilty of violating Rule 101, 105, 312,
and 405 based on the August 5 and August 8th incidents.
Id. at 9, 16-17, and a hearing officer sentenced him
to a total of 180 days of disciplinary segregation.
Id. at 2.
and Medical Health
plaintiff claims that he suffers posttraumatic stress
disorder, episodic mood disorder, and anti-social personality
disorder, and was prescribed psychotropic medication. He
states that at one time he was prescribed 50mg sertraline, 2
mg. prazosin, and 300 mg of lithium carb, and then his
medications were changed to .5 mg. risperidone, 2 mg.
prazosin, and diphenhydramine 25 mg, and then his medications
were changed again to 37.5 mg of Effexor, 2 mg. of
Erhenazine, and 25 mg of diphenhydramine. Compl. ¶ 42.
Notably, he does not indicate when these changes occurred.
The plaintiff claims that he cut his wrist on August 5, 2016,
due to psychological and physical pain. Id.
plaintiff claims he attempted suicide again on August 8,
2016. Id. ¶ 64; Status Report Ex. 2, Pertinent
Med. Records at 4 (record completed by Lauren Beitzel, LCPC).
Lt. Oates escorted him to the medical unit where he was
examined by Nurse Dawn Hawk. Compl. ¶ 64; Status Report
Ex. 2, Pertinent Med. Records at 5. The plaintiff informed
Hawk that he cut his arm because he was not getting
transgender treatment. Status Report Ex. 2, Pertinent Med.
Records at 5. The laceration, approximately three inches,
showed no signs of infection, and was cleaned. Id.
Hawk applied Bacitracin and a sterile dressing. Id.
That evening correctional staff contacted the psychology
Oates informed the plaintiff that Laura Wilson said he was
faking suicide to seek attention, and escorted him back to
his cell. The plaintiff asked to see Lauren Bietzel and
requested his stomach medication and inhalers. Compl.
¶¶ 64-66. Oates replied he would contact Bietzel,
but the plaintiff was not permitted anything, including water
or a mattress, while on staff alert, per the directions of
Chief of Security Bohrer, Warden Bishop, Thomas Sawyers,
Major Stotler, and Lieutenant Wilt. Id. ¶ 65.
plaintiff claims he was left on staff alert for 16 days
without his personal property, a mattress, water, toilet
paper, or his asthma and stomach medication. Id.
¶¶ 67-68. The record shows, however, that he was on
staff alert on August 5, to August 18, 2016, a total of 13
days. State Def. Ex. 23, Record of Segregation Confinement at
6; State Def. Ex. 19, Staff Alert Designation Notice, ECF No.
38-21. The plaintiff claims that when he asked Nurses Ciara,
Kelly, William Bilak, Shawna, April, Jane Shipley, and Vicki
Ward for his inhalers and for pain medication during this
time, they smiled and walked away. Compl. ¶ 68. He also
asked correctional staff members Werner, Bielanski, Wilt,
Spears, Marchinke, Murry, Self, Warren, Gilpin, Michael,
Weismer, Crowe, and Sellers for his medication, but they
refused him because he had assaulted an officer. Id.
at 21 ¶ 68.
plaintiff seeks preliminary and permanent injunction to stop
correctional officers from denying him showers, recreation,
haircuts, welfare hygiene bags, institutional passes, and the
opportunity to wash his clothing. Compl. ¶ 108. He asks
for injunctive relief to stop Laura Wilson, Lauren Beitzel,
and Vincent Siracusano from denying him treatment and
medication for his mental conditions. Id. He asks
for Nurses Ciara, Amy, and Kelly; William Bilak; April
Shipley; and Vicky Ward to reorder his pain medication when
it is running low and to stop denying him sick passes.
Id. The plaintiff also seeks $200, 000 against each
defendant, jointly and severally, and punitive damages of
$350, 000 against each defendant. Id.
¶¶109-110. In a separate declaration, he alleges
that he faces a constant threat of serious mental and
physical harm because he suffers severe gastritis,
experiences pain with defecation, and has blood in his feces.
He also claims Defendants deny him his blood pressure
medication and tamper with his mail. See generally
plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint which was granted. ECF Nos. 17, 18. The plaintiff
did not subsequently file an Amended Complaint. However, his
Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint demonstrates
his intent to name Bruce Liller, Krista Bilak, RPN, and Dr.
Ashraf Mahboob as additional defendants. Mot. Leave to File
at 1. The plaintiff claims Krista Bilak and Dr. Mahboob
refused to order treatment and denied him medication.
Id. ¶ 33-34. He claims Bruce Liller as a
program manager failed to provide him with “appropriate
and adequate mental health programming” and has denied
him the “right to be evaluated for the SMI (severely
mentally ill) or SNU (special needs unit).”
Id. ¶ 17. The plaintiff seems to attribute his
assault on Officer Self to cessation of his medication,
unconstitutional meals, lack of medical care, and special
cell placement. Id. ¶ 6. The motion to amend,
if intended by the plaintiff to be an amended complaint, is
unverified. See generally, Mot. Leave to File.
Because the plaintiff's medical claim will proceed, he
may seek leave to file an amendment to his complaint to add
these individuals as defendants, setting forth his reasons
why they have violated his constitutional rights.
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court
“must accept as true all of the factual allegations
contained in the complaint” and must “draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v.
Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011);
see Hall v. DirectTV, LLC, 846 F.3d 757, 765 (4th
Cir. 2017). Where, as here, the plaintiff is
self-represented, pro se pleadings are “to be liberally
construed” and are “held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However,
even a pro se litigant's complaint must be dismissed if
it does not allege a “plausible claim for
relief.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
Supreme Court of the United States explained a
“plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of
his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation marks and
brackets omitted). Nonetheless, the complaint does not need
“detailed factual allegations” to survive a
motion to dismiss. Id. 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. at 677-78 (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.
judgment is granted when 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean any
factual dispute will defeat the motion:
By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere
existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
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, 522 (4th Cir. 2003)
(alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The
court should “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, 645
(4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, 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 (quoting
Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir.
1993), and citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323-24 (1986)). Against this standard, the court
recognizes that pro se litigants' pleadings should be
construed to allow them to fully develop a potentially
meritorious case. See Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94.
However, a court cannot assume the existence of a genuine
issue of material fact where none exists. See
proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege
a violation of a federal constitutional right or a right
secured by federal law. Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S.
137, 140 (1979). The plaintiff's claims of inadequate
medical care, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, and
excessive force are examined in light of the Eighth
Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual
punishments, ” such as those involving the
“unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, ”
Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976).
Eighth Amendment Claims
Medical and Mental Health Claims
Estelle v. Gamble, the Supreme Court held that
“deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of
prisoners constitutes the wanton infliction of pain, ”
regardless whether the indifference is “manifested by
prison doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs
or by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying
access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the
treatment once prescribed.” Estelle, 429 U.S.
97, 104-05 (1976). The Court cautioned that not every
allegation of inadequate medical treatment states a claim
under the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 105. Neither an