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Gainey v. Capasso

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 14, 2018

RODNEY B. GAINEY, Plaintiff,


          Paula Xinis, United States District Judge.

         Self-represented Plaintiff Rodney B. Gainey, who was previously incarcerated at the Harford County Detention Center (“HCDC”) in Bel Air, Maryland, brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Michael Capasso, Warden of HCDC.[1] See ECF Nos. 1, 3, 7. Through his Complaint filed on May 9, 2017, amended on May 31, 2017, and supplemented six times, Gainey seeks $100, 000 in monetary damages for Defendant's alleged deprivation of his constitutional rights. Id.; ECF Nos. 10-14.

         On December 18, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 18. Gainey was released from HCDC in November, 2017 (ECF No. 17). The Court had informed Gainey that, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the failure to file a response in opposition to the Defendant's Motion could result in dismissal of the Complaint. ECF No. 19. Gainey did not respond. After review of the record, exhibits, and applicable law, the Court deems a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Defendant's Motion to Dismiss shall be granted.

         I. Background

         Following his arrest on “several Maryland felony and misdemeanor” charges, Gainey appeared in Harford County District Court on January 9, 2017, where he was to be formally advised of his rights. ECF No. 1, p. 1.[2] The case was continued to the following day prior to advisement, and Gainey was released on bail. On January 26, 2017, Gainey appeared with private counsel and was remanded to the Harford County Sheriff “on an unrelated offense.” Id. Gainey's District Court hearing took place on March 22, 2017, at which time he was offered an opportunity to proceed to trial in District Court without counsel, accept the State's Attorney's offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of one year and one day, or request a jury trial which would result in transferring the cases to the Circuit Court. Id.; ECF No. 1, p. 2.

         Gainey originally filed his Complaint on May 15, 2017, ECF No. 1, and amended it on May 31, 2017, stating, in relevant part, that he “attempted to make contact with the Office of the Public Defender through Harford County Detention Center's institutional mail system and grievance system.” ECF No. 3, p. 3. Gainey claimed that “[t]hese attempts were futile until a family member contacted the Public Defender.” Id. By Memorandum Opinion and Order dated June 8, 2017, this Court directed Gainey “to amend his complaint against Warden Capasso with regard to the delay in outgoing mail, ” noting that “[a]n unreasonable delay in delivery or mailing general mail within a prison may state a cognizable claim.” ECF No. 5, pp. 4-5.

         On June 22, 2017, Gainey filed his First Supplement, alleging that Defendant and the staff at HCDC failed to give him “the proper means to contact the Public Defender.” ECF No. 7, p. 3. Gainey stated that he requested, received, and submitted three separate forms to HCDC staff for the purpose of obtaining legal representation through the Harford County Public Defender, and also sent a personal letter, but was unable to contact counsel in time for his trial on March 22, 2017. Id. at pp. 1-3. Gainey alleges that the delay in processing his mail at HCDC played a major role in denying [him] counsel and due process of the law.” Id. at p. 3.

         On July 12, 2018, Gainey filed his Second Supplement, alleging that Defendant neglected to allow the Harford County Public Defender to “readily vet inmates properly and in a timely manner” during the inmates' first appearance before a County Commissioner, resulting in a violation of his due process rights. ECF No. 10.

         On July 19, 2018, Gainey filed his Third Supplement, claiming that Defendant and his staff further denied Gainey his constitutional right to counsel when they failed to present him during the Public Defender's visit to HCDC on January 9, 2017. ECF No. 11. According to Gainey, HCDC staff mistakenly presented in his place an inmate with the last name of “Gaines.” Id.

         On August 14, 2017, Gainey filed his Fourth Supplement, alleging that HCDC violated his right to privacy by refusing to allow through the mail letters enclosed in an envelope. ECF No. 12. Gainey also stated that while at HCDC, he was “hindered” from speaking to his attorney over the phone after a sergeant “chose to take phones for an undetermined amount of time . . . as punishment” for other inmates who violated facility rules. Id.

         On September 25, 2017, Gainey filed his Fifth Supplement, informing the Court that the Finance Officer at HCDC did not file an account statement on his behalf, as directed, and that he was “violently attacked unprovoked” after HCDC staff housed him with a violent inmate. ECF No. 13. Gainey stated his belief that the latter “was done in retaliation for the filing of the civil suit” and that “in the process, the Defendant is further responsible for violating [his] civil right by causing . . . this cruel and unusual punishment.” Id.

         Gainey filed his Sixth Supplement on October 3, 2018. ECF No. 14. In that pleading, Gainey alleged that there had been a delay in medical treatment following the assault he suffered on September 19, 2017. Id. Gainey stated that he received sutures to help close a wound, and that a follow-up was scheduled for 10 days, but was instead postponed to 15 days later. Id. He added that he had filed an institutional grievance for each of his complaints, but had not received any reply. Id.

         II. Standard of Review

         In reviewing a complaint in light of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005); Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). 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, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.” Id. Although courts should construe pleadings of self-represented litigants liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), ...

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