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Hill v. Moyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 27, 2018

TYRELL HILL, #420-407, Plaintiff,


          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Tyrell Hill is incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland. Compl. 1, ECF No. 1. He seeks redress pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged Eighth Amendment violations by Stephen T. Moyer, Interim Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Richard Graham, Warden of WCI, and Classification Case Managers Richard Roderick and Benjamin Bradley in their individual and official capacities.[1]Compl. 1-2. Mr. Hill seeks injunctive, [2] compensatory, and punitive damages for Defendants' alleged failure to correct misinformation in his prison base file that he says has led to his improper classification and progress through the prison system as well as to him being assaulted by other similarly classified inmates. Compl. 1-2, Am. Compl. 2-3, ECF No. 5. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 11. Mr. Hill opposed the Motion, ECF No. 14. A hearing is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Defendants' Motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, will be granted.[3]

         Standard of Review and Evidentiary Record

         Summary judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates, through “particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, ” 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), (c)(1)(A); see also Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-87 & n.10 (1986). The existence of only a “scintilla of evidence” is not enough to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Instead, the evidentiary materials submitted must show facts from which the finder of fact reasonably could find for the party opposing summary judgment. Id. A “genuine” dispute of material fact is one where the conflicting evidence creates “fair doubt”; wholly speculative assertions do not create “fair doubt.” Cox v. Cty. of Prince William, 249 F.3d 295, 299 (4th Cir. 2001); see also Miskin v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 107 F.Supp.2d 669, 671 (D. Md. 1999). The substantive law governing the case determines what is material. See Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir. 2001). A fact that is not of consequence to the case, or is not relevant in light of the governing law, is not material. Id.; see also Fed. R. Evid. 401 (defining relevance). “In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, this Court reviews the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Downing v. Balt. City Bd. of Sch. Comm'rs, No. RDB 12-1047, 2015 WL 1186430, at *1 (D. Md. Mar. 13, 2015) (citing Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007)).

         There is no genuine dispute of material fact if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his case as to which he would have the burden of proof. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Therefore, on those issues for which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with an affidavit that “set[s] out facts that would be admissible in evidence” or other similar facts that could be “presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence” showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2), (4); see also Ridgell, 2012 WL 707008, at *7; Laughlin, 149 F.2d at 260-61.

         Defendants have attached to their motion two declarations, Durst Decl., ECF No. 11-3, Neverdon Decl., ECF No. 11-12, and verified records including an email regarding the alleged assault of an officer, Shearin Email on Assault, ECF No. 11-4, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services' (“DPSCS”) Confidential Notes, DPSCS Notes, ECF No. 11-6, Security Reclassification Instruments, Sec. Reclassification Instruments, ECF No. 11-7, Mr. Hill's Housing and Transfer History, Inmate Traffic History, ECF No. 11-5, a Serious Incident Report, Serious Incident Report, ECF No. 11-9, and Mr. Hill's administrative remedy procedure (“ARP”) filings, ARP History, ECF No. 11-11. In contrast, Mr. Hill has filed an opposition, which he attached a declaration verifying the records he submitted—mainly concerning the administrative process of this case—and his allegations are contained in an unverified complaint. Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 14-1; Hill Decl., ECF No. 14-3. Because Plaintiff's Complaint is not verified, its factual assertions may not be considered in opposition to Defendants' motion and his exhibits related only to his administratively exhausting his claims. See Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A); see also Abdelnaby v. Durham D & M, LLC, No. GLR-14-3905, 2017 WL 3725500, at *4 (D. Md. Aug. 29, 2017) (awarding summary judgment for the defendants, because the plaintiff could not “create a genuine dispute of material fact ‘through mere speculation, '” and “[t]hus, the Court [wa]s left with a record that [wa]s bereft of evidence supporting any of Abdelnaby's arguments”) (quoting Beale v. Hardy, 769, F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985)).


         On May 10, 2013, Mr. Hill, who had been housed at the Maryland Reception Diagnostic Classification Center (“MRDCC”), was transferred to North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”). Inmate Traffic History 5. That same day, when Mr. Hill's transfer documentation was transmitted, an accompanying email indicated that “Detainee Hill assaulted Officer Kwame Ramsey this afternoon at MRDCC by striking the officer in the mouth with a closed fist after he baited staff into his cell with the [threat] of suicide.” Shearin Email. The email added that “Inmate Hill does not suffer from suicidal ideation.” Id. However, Mr. Hill was not charged with a rule violation. Am. Compl. 2; Defs.' Mem. 2, ECF No. 11-1.

         On January 31, 2014, during a substance abuse survey, case managers asked Mr. Hill about “his assault on staff” at MRDCC in 2013. DPSCS Notes 9. Mr. Hill denied that the alleged assault occurred. Id. The case manager referred to “[d]ocumentation on file” that described the incident. Id.

         Within sixty days of his arrival at NBCI, Mr. Hill had to be assessed to determine if he qualified as a Maximum Level II inmate. Maximum Level II Security Bulletin 1, ECF No. 11-8. Classification as a Maximum Level II inmate is assessed according to five factors:

a. Serious assault on staff or inmate within the past five years,
b. Escape from Secure Confinement housing,
c. Incident resulting in a death of another while ...

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