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Watkins v. State

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 17, 2018

NAFIZ WATKINS, #461809 Plaintiff
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND, MARYLAND DIVISION OF CORRECTION, WARDEN OF MTC, CO. MURR-ESTRADA, CO. DIKE, LT. PATTERSON, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., and MAJOR VINCENT Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Nafiz Watkins alleges violations of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution in this complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc., ("Wexford") has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (ECF 15). Watkins filed an opposition (ECF 20) and Wexford filed a reply. ECF 21. Defendants, the State of Maryland, the Maryland Division of Correction, Warden Kathleen Landerkin of the Metropolitan Transition Center ("MTC"), Officer Christopher MurrEstrada, Officer Uzoma Dike, Major Calvin Vincent, and Lt. Tamara Patterson, (collectively, the "State Defendants')[1] also filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (ECF 29). Watkins was provided an opportunity to respond to Wexford and the State Defendants' motions and include verified exhibits and declarations (ECF 30). He did not oppose the State Defendants' motion.

         Upon review of the submitted materials, the court finds that a hearing is unnecessary. See D, Md. Local R. 105.6 (2016). For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motions will be granted, The claims against defendants will be dismissed with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Plaintiffs Allegations

         Watkins is a Maryland state inmate who is presently incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland. On September 29, 2017, Watkins filed this complaint pro se alleging that on September 14, 2016, he was attacked by inmate Lester Ashe at the Metropolitan Transition Center (MTC). Watkins alleges that on September 14, 2016, while he was awaiting transportation to arrive at MTC to take him to another facility, Ashe attacked him. Officers Murr-Estrada and Dike broke up the fight. ECF 1 at 2. Watkins was escorted to the medical office for treatment. Watkin alleges that he had previously advised correctional staff at MTC and the Maryland Reception and Diagnostic Center (MRDCC) that Ashe was his enemy. ECF 1 at 2, 3. Watkins explains that Ashe had shot him seven times on July 14, 2015, and later Watkins testified as a State's witness in Ashe's prosecution for attempted murder and other offenses in connection with the shooting. ECF 1 at 2; ECF No. 29-2 at 19.

         The doctor who examined Watkins after the September 14, 2016 incident observed Watkins' right hand was swollen and that he had several cuts and abrasions. ECF 1 at 3. The doctor gave Watkins an ice pack and told him to get an x-ray for his hand at the next facility. Watkins alleges that Lt. Patterson and Major Vincent sent him to "lock up" pending a hearing without investigating the incident.[2] ECF 1 at 3. Watkins avers that he was denied further medical treatment and grievance forms as a result. ECF 1 at 3. He alleges that "every time I asked for treatment (my x-ray) grievances or to speak to someone because I couldn't write, I was denied and told 'you shouldn't have been fighting.'" ECF 1 at 3.

         Watkins was subsequently transferred to Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI). Watkins alleges he fractured his hand during the attack and that had the doctor ordered an x-ray, his hand would have healed faster. He claims his fractured hand was not x-rayed until October 2016 and that this "was too late." ECF 1 at 4. Watkins faults the Warden of MTC for failing to "properly train his employees so that this could have been prevented." ECF 1 at 4.

         Watkins is requesting $1, 000, 000 in compensatory damages from the State of Maryland and the Maryland Division of Correction, $500, 0000 five-hundred thousand dollars from Officer Murr-Estrada and Officer Dike in their official and individual capacities, $20, 000 from Lieutenant Tamara Patterson and Major Calvin Vincent[3] in their official and individual capacities, and $500, 000 from Warden Kathleen Landerkin in her official and individual capacity, and $500, 000 from Wexford.[4]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint is subject to dismissal if it "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state "a plausible claim for relief," Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). "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. at 678. Rule l2(b)(6)'s purpose "is to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Velencia v. Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md. Dec. 13, 2012) (quoting Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)). Courts are required to liberally construe documents filed by self-represented litigants, holding them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that a court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a federally cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Claims against the State Defendants

         The State Defendants assert they are entitled to dismissal of the claims against them on several grounds. They argue that Warden Landerkin did not personally participate in the alleged wrongdoings, the State of Maryland and the Division of Correction (DOC) are immune from liability under the Eleventh Amendment, the claims against "Warden Landerkin, Officer Murr-Estrada, Officer Dike, Lt. Patterson in their official capacities are barred under the Eleventh Amendment, and Watkins fails ...


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