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Conaway v. Capasso

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 22, 2018

EDWARD CONAWAY, # 281-7238, Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN MICHAEL CAPASSO, HARFORD COUNTY JAIL, [1] SGT. DANNY M. HASLUP, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Self-represented Plaintiff Edward Conaway, a Maryland Division of Correction (“DOC”) prisoner currently confined at Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”), seeks compensatory damages against Harford County Detention Center (“HCDC”) Warden Michael Capasso and HCDC employee Sgt. Danny Haslup. Conaway alleges that while detained on cell restriction at HCDC, he was denied showers by Haslup for up to 17 days, beginning on October 31, 2016. ECF 1.[2]

         Defendants have responded by filings a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 8), which Conaway has opposed. ECF No. 10. After considering the pleadings, exhibits, and applicable law, the Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016), as a hearing on the Motion is deemed unnecessary. For reasons to follow, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         The parties do not dispute that while detained at HCDC, Conaway was placed on the Restrictive Housing Unit due to misbehavior, including threats, assaults on personnel, and destruction of property. ECF 8-2, Kahler Affd., ¶¶ 3, 6. Conaway remained in restrictive housing until his transfer to the Baltimore City Jail on November 17, 2016. ECF No. 10, p. 2.

         Conaway claims he was denied showers from October 31, 2016 until his November 17, 2016 transfer. This claim is only partly disputed by Lt. Sean Kahler, who avers that on October 29, 2016, Conaway's opportunity to shower was cut short after he threatened staff, and that on November 2, 2016, Conaway was permitted to shower.[3] ECF No. 8-2, Kahler Affd., ¶¶ 7-8.

         Kahler avers that Conaway received a handbook explaining the grievance system when he entered HCDC on July 11, 2016, and that Conaway did not file a grievance concerning the denial of showers. ECF No. 82, ¶¶ 9, 11. In his opposition response, Conaway states he wrote 10 grievance complaints concerning a lack of showers and toiletries. ECF No. 10, p. 2.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court is mindful of its obligation to liberally construe the pleadings of pro se litigants. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nonetheless, liberal construction does not mean that this Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a cognizable claim, Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990), or “conjure up questions never squarely presented.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). In making this determination, "[t]he district court... must hold the pro se complaint to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read the complaint liberally." White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-723 (4th Cir. 1989). Given this standard, the Court has construed Conaway's allegation concerning the denial of showers as a conditions of confinement claim.

         When a defendant seeks dismissal or, in the alternative, summary judgment, the Court may use its discretion, under Rule 12(d), to determine whether to consider matters outside the pleadings. See Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't., Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011), aff'd sub nom., Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't., Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012). Pursuant to Rule 12(d), “[w]hen matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the 12(b)(6) motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d)).

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has outlined two requirements for when a motion to dismiss may be converted to a motion for summary judgment: (1) the “parties [must] be given some indication by the court that it is treating the 12(b)(6) motion as a motion for summary judgment” and (2) “the parties ‘first [must] be afforded a reasonable opportunity for discovery.'” Greater Balt. Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor of Balt., 721 F.3d 264, 281 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985)). When the motion is expressly captioned as a motion to dismiss or in the alternative a motion for summary judgment and matters outside of the pleadings are submitted, the parties are deemed to have sufficient notice that conversion may be granted. See Moret v. Harvey, 381 F.Supp.2d 458, 464 (D. Md. 2005). “[T]he party opposing summary judgment ‘cannot complain that summary judgment was granted without discovery unless that party has made an attempt to oppose the motion on the grounds that more time was needed for discovery.'” Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996). Here, Conaway has not filed an affidavit or otherwise requested discovery, other than the materials that have been made available to him.

         In light of the foregoing, the Court is satisfied that it is appropriate to address Defendants' dispositive Motion as one for summary judgment, because matters outside of the pleadings will be considered. See Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007).

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), the Court must grant summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co.,398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party has the burden of showing that a genuine dispute exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Whether a fact is considered to be “material” is determined by the substantive law, and “[o]nly disputes over ...


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