United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff
Davelle Rich alleges that Correctional Officer Diron Torrain
and Warden Foxwell (“Defendants”) violated his
rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the
United States Constitution while incarcerated at the Southern
Maryland Pre-Release Unit
(“SMPRU”). Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss
the Complaint, or Alternatively, a Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 16. Defendants' Motion is
unopposed. This case is ready for disposition and the
Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no
hearing is necessary. For the reasons discussed below,
Defendants' Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary
Judgment, IS GRANTED.
contends that on February 4, 2016, he spoke to Warden
Foxwell, who was touring the housing unit, about the
conditions at SMPRU. ECF No. 1 at 4. Immediately afterwards,
Rich was ordered to be transferred to another facility. When
Rich questioned why he was being transferred “without
first some type of hearing, ” Torain
“attacked” him. ECF No. 1 at 5. Rich alleges he
suffered injuries to his chest, right shoulder, forehead,
eyes, right side of the neck, and other unspecified parts of
his body. ECF No. 1 at 5. Rich avers that Torain used
excessive force against him, and that Foxwell is also
culpable because “…it is obvious that he sent
Defendant Torain” to assault Rich. ECF No. 1 at 5. Rich
also asserts that Defendants' actions deprived Rich of
due process because the force used against him imposed an
“atypical and significant hardship” upon him.
Id. at 5. He asks this Court to award compensatory
and punitive damages and unspecified injunctive relief.
Id. at 3.
in response, have submitted two Internal Investigation
Division (“IID”) Reports concerning the February
4, 2016 incident, both of which concluded that Rich assaulted
Torain by punching him in the face. (ECF No. 16-4 at 7; ECF
No. 16-5 at 9). Defendants also submit a Serious Incident
Report (SIR) prepared after the incident (ECF No. 16-7);
sworn declarations from Foxwell, Torain, and eye witness,
Officer Amanda Valentin (ECF Nos. 16-11, 16-12, 16-13, 16-14,
16-15, 16-16); Rich's medical and prison records (ECF
Nos. 16-8, 16-9, 16-10, 16-17, 16-18); and photographs taken
after the incident (ECF No. 16-7 at 22-36).
Defendants' submissions present the following facts. On
February 4, 2016, at approximately 12:50 pm, Warden Foxwell
was touring the SMPRU when Rich began yelling at him. Rich
was “behaving in a manner not consistent with that of
an inmate classified to prerelease security” and
Foxwell instructed Captain Mallard Hast to transfer Rich to
another facility. Foxwell Declaration, ECF No. 16-16 ¶3;
Torain Declaration, ECF No. 16-11 ¶ 2; ECF No. 16-4 at
22, 24. Hast directed Torain to place Rich in a holding cell
while officers packed Rich's belongings for his transfer.
ECF No. 16-4 at 12, 22.
Torain approached, Rich jumped up from his bunk and attempted
to run away. T orain ordered him to stop, but Rich did not
comply. When Torain reached out to grab Rich by the arm, Rich
punched Torain's right jaw. Officer Valentin witnessed
Rich strike Torain on the right side of his face with a
closed fist. ECF No. 16-4 at 26; ECF No. 16-13; ECF No. 16-5
at 8. Torain then “bear hugged” Rich to prevent
further attack. ECF No. 16-4; ECF No. 16-11 ¶ 2. Other
officers arrived to assist. Hast witnessed Torain and Rich
“wrestling across the top of a bottom bunk bed.”
ECF No. 16-4 at 22. Officer Boateng, Captain Hast, and
Valentin helped Torain gain control of Rich, handcuff him and
place him in the holding cell. ECF No. 16-4 at 12, Torain
Declaration, ECF No. 16-11 ¶2. Rich spat at Torain,
Boateng, and Martz through the slot in the holding cell. ECF
No. 16-4 at 27, 28, 32, 34, 45, 72, 73, 76.
this altercation, Torain sustained a gash to his right shin.
ECF No. 16-4 at 1. Rich suffered redness to his face,
forehead, and the back of the neck. ECF No. 14-6 at 1.
Contemporaneous photographs of their injuries depict a red
gash across Rich's chest and a gash on Torain's leg.
ECF No. 16-4 at 40, 43. Renee Walker, R.N. treated Torain for
his leg abrasion and Boateng because Rich has untreated
Hepatitis C and had exposed Boateng to his saliva when he
spat in his cell. ECF No. 16-4.
p.m. on February 4, 2016, corrections personnel transported
Rich to Brockbridge Correctional Facility (BCF). There, he
was seen by medical personnel and placed on administrative
segregation pending an adjustment hearing. ECF No. 16-16
¶4; ECF No. 16-4 at 73, 90. Contemporaneous medical
records reflect that Rich's vital signs were normal, he
was alert and oriented, his lungs were clear, and there were
no signs of acute distress. Rich sustained scratches on his
forehead, neck, and chest which were treated. ECF No. 16-4 at
31; ECF No. 16-8 at 2-3.
Feburary 24, 2016, Rich was criminally charged in the Charles
County District Court with second degree assault on Torain.
Id. at 78-9; ECF No. 16-6 at 106. Rich pleaded
guilty to this charge on November 9, 2016 and was sentenced
him to one year and one day of incarceration. ECF No. 16-17,
ECF No. 16-18. Also on February 24, 2016, Rich was served a
Notice of Inmate Rule Violation (NOIRV). ECF No. 16-4 at
12-13; ECF No. 16-9. On March 8, 2016, Rich pleaded guilty to
violating rules 100 (engaging in a disruptive act), 101
(assault or battery on staff), 400 (disobeying an order), 405
(disrespect or use of vulgar language). ECF No. 16-9 at 3.
Hearing Officer David Igbeare also found Rich guilty after
the adjustment hearing of violating inmate rules 312
(interfering with staff performance of duties) and 402
(refusing an order for inmate facility movement). ECF No.
16-9 at 7, 10. Igbeare imposed two 90-day sentences of
disciplinary segregation to be served consecutively and
revoked 90 days of Rich's diminution or “good
time” credits. Warden Foxwell later reduced the
disciplinary segregation to two 30-day consecutive sentences.
ECF 16-16 ¶ 5; ECF No. 16-9 at 8.
days later, on February 29, 2016, Rich's aunt, Tamey
Rich, reported to the DPSCS PREA (Prison Rape Elimination
Act) Hotline that Rich had been assaulted by several
correctional officers on February 4, 2016. ECF No. 16-5 at 1.
As a result, an investigation (IID No. #16-35-00464) was
opened and assigned to Det. Sgt. Kevin Baylin. ECF No. 16-5
at 1, 7. Baylin ultimately determined that Rich had assaulted
Torrain and closed the PREA investigation. ECF No. 16-5 at 9.
Standard of Review
motion will be treated as one for summary judgment under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Defendants have submitted
materials outside the original pleadings and Rich was given
the opportunity to object or otherwise respond to such
evidence. See Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442,
450 (4th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, the Court may, in its
discretion, review the motion under the summary judgment
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates, that
“no genuine dispute as to any material fact”
exists when construing all facts and all justifiable
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see also Ricci v.
DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 585-86 (2009); Baldwin v.
City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013). A
material fact is one that “might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law.” Libertarian
Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013).
A genuine issue of disputed material fact exists “if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby,477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). At this stage,
the Court must determine whether sufficient evidence exists
on to a material fact which requires resolution by the finder
of fact at trial. Id. at 249. A mere
“scintilla of evidence” suggesting a material
dispute is not enough to defeat a motion for summary
judgment. Anderson 477 U.S. at 251-52. Nor does the
Court consider bare ...