United States District Court, D. Maryland
DAVID C. ZELLER, Prisoner Identification numbers #369326, #30822, Plaintiff,
OFFICER SERGEANT LANE, Welfare and Property Officer, WARDEN WOLFE, JCI, CAPTAIN ROWLAND, JCI, B. Building, and SERGEANT JORDAN, Defendants.
THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David C. Zeller is incarcerated at North Branch Correctional
Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. He filed this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983 against Defendants
Warden John Wolfe, Jr., Sergeant Lane, Sergeant Jordan and
Captain Rowland based on events that occurred when he was
incarcerated at Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), in
Jessup, Maryland. Zeller alleges that he did not receive an
indigent prisoner "welfare package," he was denied
access to medical treatment, and he was threatened by a
correctional officer. Defendants have filed a Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment,
which is now ripe for disposition. Having reviewed the
pleadings, briefs, and exhibits, the Court finds that no
hearing is necessary to decide the Motion. See D.
Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.
Complaint, Zeller describes himself as a 64 year-old,
indigent inmate who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
Zeller claims that for approximately five months from
September 2016 to March 2017, he did not receive a welfare
package, consisting of items such as envelopes, paper, pens,
soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, razors,
shampoo, and shaving cream. Inmates may request a welfare
package once every 30 days if the balance in their commissary
account is less than four dollars.
to late October 2016, Zeller asked Sgt. Lane, the property
manager for his housing unit, why he had not received his
welfare package. Sgt. Lane responded that the prison had run
out of welfare packages and that he would re-order them.
During a tier inspection in January 2017, Zeller asked Warden
Wolfe why he had not received his welfare packages since
2016. Warden Wolfe replied that the paperwork for ordering
the packages had just been signed.
further complains that while he was in disciplinary
segregation, Capt. Rowland delayed his welfare package
requests and required him to write a new request every 30
days. Zeller claims that Capt. Rowland hoards welfare package
request forms and "holds back" soap powder, laundry
detergent, and razors from Zeller's welfare package. Am.
Compl. at 3, ECF No. 4. Zeller states that he trades away his
pain medication to obtain these supplies.
to Capt. Rowland, there was a five-month shortage of welfare
packages at JCI. In July 2016, the beginning of a new fiscal
year, JCI did not receive its requisition of welfare
packages. The existing supply of welfare packages was
exhausted by mid-August. Sgt. Lane reordered the welfare
packages, but the requisition could not be processed until
funding became available. Capt. Rowland denies that he or
other correctional officers prevented Zeller from accessing
writing materials or necessary items such as soap or
toothpaste. According to Capt. Rowland and Sgt. Lane, Zeller
was provided toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, and laundry
detergent from emergency stocks until the welfare packages
resumed. Zeller, however, disputes that he received such
emergency supplies. He acknowledges that he received a
writing pad, a pencil, and envelopes from a mental health
also claims that on May 11 or 12, 2017, Sgt. Jordan refused
to allow him to use the restroom while he was waiting to be
seen by medical personnel, and that as a result, he urinated
on himself and fell out of his wheelchair "onto the
floor next to [his] puddle of pee." Am. Compl. at 5.
Zeller then got up and ran toward a gate, fell down, and was
put back into his wheelchair and returned to his cell by Sgt.
Jordan. According to Zeller, Jordan threatened to "slap
the shit" out of him and took away his wheelchair.
Id. at 5-6. Zeller also asserts that that he was not
brought to the medical unit for treatment of neck, ankle, and
foot pain for a period of two to three days.
Jordan has denied preventing Zeller from using the restroom
or threatening to assault or physically assaulting him at any
time. According to Capt. Rowland, Zeller was never wheelchair
bound, but medical staff had provided him with one to
facilitate his movements before rescinding the order
providing him with a wheelchair. Capt. Rowland further
asserts that Zeller destroyed his own wheelchair and that
there was no other wheelchair available that would fit in his
cell. Capt. Rowland and Sgt. Jordan also deny interfering
with Zeller's medical care.
November 13, 2017 declaration, Zeller acknowledged that after
he had been injured from a fall out of the wheelchair, he had
smashed the wheelchair into the wall because he deemed it
defective and did not want anybody to get hurt from it. He
also acknowledged that it was not Sgt. Jordan, but a
different correctional officer, who allegedly denied him
Zeller claims that his mental health condition renders him
unable to file administrative remedy procedure complaints
("ARPs"), and that prison personnel refused to
assist him filing ARPs.
seek summary judgment in their favor on several grounds,
including: (1) Zeller failed to exhaust available
administrative remedies; and (2) Zeller fails to state a
valid claim for relief under Â§ 1983. Because the Court finds
that Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on these
grounds, the Court need not address Defendants' remaining