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Green v. Wilson

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 31, 2018

RICHARD GREEN, #269-134, Plaintiff
v.
LAURA WILSON,[1] SGT. WILLIAM THOMAS, SGT. CHRISTOPHER WEDLOCK, DR. VINCENT SIRACUSANO, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Richard Green is incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”). Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. He alleges that Sergeants William Thomas and Christopher Wedlock, together with Mental Health Counselor Laura Wilson, retaliated against him by removing him from his role as a mentor to individuals housed in NBCI's “Special Needs Unit” (“SNU”) and also by denying him treatment and single cell housing in the SNU, or alternatively to a bottom bunk bed. Id. Mr. Green also alleges that NBCI Psychiatrist Vincent Siracusano- the sole Defendant employed by the prison health care provider-was deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs. Id. Lastly, Mr. Green alleges that Sergeant Wedlock's deliberate indifference to his medical needs led to him injuring his right foot.

         Sergeants Thomas and Wedlock and Ms. Wilson (collectively “Correctional Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment. Corr. Defs.' Mot., ECF No. 21. Mr. Green filed an Opposition to this motion, Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 23; however, I deferred resolution of it, and denied it without prejudice, pending service upon and response from Dr. Siracusano. ECF No. 26. Subsequently, Dr. Siracusano filed a Motion to Dismiss. Siracusano First Mot., ECF No. 32. Dr. Siracusano's Motion did not address Mr. Green's allegations that Dr. Siracusano violated his Eighth Amendment rights by having failed to treat his mental health diss. I therefore ordered Dr. Siracusano to respond to Mr. Green's Eighth Amendment allegations, Aug. 23, 2017 Order, ECF No. 34. Dr. Siracusano complied with that order by filing a Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Summary Judgment. Siracusano Second Mot., ECF No. 38.

         Although provided notice that he could file an additional response to Dr. Siracusano's second motion, ECF No. 39, Mr. Green has failed to do so. A hearing is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Defendants' motions construed as motions for summary judgment, will be granted.[2]

         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 collectively attached to their motions multiple affidavits, verified Medical Records, and the administrative filings regarding Mr. Green's voluminous grievances with NBCI. Admin. R., 21-2; Med. R., ECF No. 21-3; Wilson Decl., ECF No. 21-4; Thomas Decl., ECF No. 21-5; Wedlock Decl., ECF No. 21-6; Siracusano Decl., ECF No. 38-5. In contrast, Mr. Green filed an opposition only to the Correctional Defendants' motion, and has submitted minimal evidence as he relies on his allegations, which are contained in an unverified complaint, one sick call request, a “Wellness Therapy Group Contract” and its associated rules, and a response from his request for a bottom bunk. Def.'s Exs., ECF No. 23-1.[3] Because Plaintiff's Complaint is not verified, its factual assertions may not be considered in opposition to Defendants' motion. 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)).

         Background

         Mr. Green initiated this litigation premised on his allegations that on May 13, 2015, “[i]n retaliation to [his] verbal and written complaints about the abusive treatment of NBCI's mentally ill inmates, [he] was falsely accused of rule violations and removed from [his] (mentoring) of the Special Needs Unit inmates work detail . . . .” Compl. 3. He further alleges that he was denied adequate care and treatment for his “mental disorder” by Ms. Wilson and Sergeant Thomas and that their “actions lead [sic] to serious injury to my right foot due to the change in my housing assignment and deliberate indifference to my serious mental health care treatment by” Dr. Siracusano and Sergeant Wedlock. Id.

         Prior to January 21, 2015, Mr. Green was employed in a skilled position with the dietary department. Admin R. 7. After demonstrating “poor work habits, ” Mr. Green was interviewed for reassignment to a sanitation position. At that time, Correctional Officer C. Pratt attempted to escort Mr. Green to a new cell; however Mr. Green refused to be moved from a single cell to a double cell. Id. at 10, 39. Officer Pratt, a non-party, then filed a Notice of Inmate Rule Violation based on Mr. Green's refusal, id. at 10, and Mr. Green was found guilty of not complying with Officer Pratt's order, id. at 15. Mr. Green was initially sentenced to 45 days of cell restriction, which was later reduced to 30 days by Acting Warden Richard Miller. Id. at 20.

         Mr. Green unsuccessfully appealed, id. at 19, and on February 17, 2015, filed a an Administrative Remedy Procedure form (“ARP”), ARP NBCI-0354-15, alleging that Officer Pratt filed the Notice of Inmate Rule Violation against him in retaliation for Mr. Green having filed an ARP against Officer Pratt previously. Id. at 35, 39-40. These claims were investigated and dismissed because NBCI had substantive, non-retaliatory reasons for why Mr. Green was reassigned from a single cell to a double cell, mainly that single cell assignments were reserved for those with health issues or a job requiring housing in that unit. Id. at 35-41. In addition, Officer Pratt wrote a statement denying that he acted in retaliation against Mr. Green. Id. At 40. Mr. Green's appeal to the Commissioner also was dismissed after being investigated. Id. at 42- 45.

         Two months after Mr. Green filed the ARP, on April 6, 2015, Mr. Green was moved to a single cell in Housing Unit #2 to work as a mentor for the Special Needs Unit (“SNU”). That day, Mr. Green signed a Wellness Therapy Group Contract, Mentor Contract, ECF No. 23-1, at 1, and received the Rules and Regulations for the Wellness Therapy Group, Rules and Regulations, id. at 2. Mr. Green participated as a mentor in group therapy on April 13, April 23, May 4, and May 11, 2015, under Ms. Wilson's direction (then known as Laura M. Booth). Med. R. 73, 78-80.

         On May 4, 2015, while still working as a mentor, Mr. Green filed ARP NBCI-0862-15, which alleged that Acting Warden Richard Roderick discriminated against SNU inmates by not allowing them to attend an event featuring Darryl Strawberry. Admin R. 50-51. Mr. Green's allegations were investigated and his grievance was dismissed because NBCI restricted access based on security and capacity concerns. Id. at 50, 52-57. Mr. Green's appeals were then denied as NBCI's restrictions were deemed legitimate concerns. Id. at 58-60.

         On May 13, 2015, Mr. Green was removed from his role in mentoring SNU inmates. Compl. 3; Admin. R. 81. According to Ms. Wilson, Mr. Green was removed from the position after five weeks due to his inability to establish a positive relationship with staff and overstepping boundaries [and that h]e persistently exhibited an adversarial relationship with staff, which ...


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