United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMONTE JAMAR FLETCHER, Inmate Identification No. 422-651, Plaintiff,
C.O. II CHASE DYKES, C.O. II JOSEPH TILGHMAN, C.O. II DOMINICK TIMMONS and WARDEN RICKY FOXWELL, Defendants.
THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jamonte Jamar Fletcher, currently incarcerated at Eastern
Correctional Institution ("ECI") in Westover,
Maryland, has filed suit under 42 U.S.C § 1983
("§ 1983") against ECI Warden Ricky Foxwell
("the Warden") and ECI correctional officers Chase
Dykes, Joseph Tilghman, and Dominick Timmons (collectively,
"the Officer Defendants"). Fletcher's claims
arise from a March 11, 2017 cell search by the Officer
Defendants, the conditions of his subsequent confinement in
ECI Cell 4C1, and the denial by prison officials of his
various requests for relief. Presently pending before the
Court are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, and Fletcher's
"Request for Leave to Reply to Defendants Reply to
Plaintiffs Opposition to Defendants Motion to Dismiss or, in
the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment," which the
Court construes as a Motion for Leave to File a Surreply.
Upon review of the submitted materials, the Court finds that
no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny
Fletcher's Motion for Leave to File a Surreply and grant
in part and deny in part Defendants' Motion.
March 11, 2017 Cell Search and Transfer
March 11, 2017, Defendants Dykes and Tilghman arrived at
Fletcher's cell and announced that they were going to
conduct a random search for contraband. Fletcher and his
cellmate were thoroughly patted down by the officers, and the
cell search revealed no contraband. Dykes then grabbed
Fletcher, stated that he would conduct a strip search, and
forced Fletcher to strip down to his "shorts, boxers,
and socks" and searched him a second time. Am. Compl. at
1, ECF No. 3-l. According to Fletcher, Dykes found no
contraband. Fletcher then stated "see I do not have
anything on me." Id. Dykes replied that
Fletcher was "making him nervous" and conducted a
third search of Fletcher's body, including "grabbing
[his] private parts and rubbing his hand between the crack of
[his] butt." Id. After this third search,
Fletcher told Dykes "see now you know I don't have
parties disagree on what happened next. According to
Fletcher, Dykes ordered Fletcher to hand him "the shorts
and drop the boxers then squat and cough." Id.
Fletcher, positioned with his back facing Dykes, complied by
handing Dykes his shorts over his shoulder, dropping his
boxers to the ground, and coughing. Dykes then grabbed him by
the neck and put him in a chokehold. Dykes, Tilghman, and
Defendant Timmons, who had arrived at the cell after the
search began, then "began slamming [Fletcher's] head
against the lockers, bunk and floor." Id. at 2.
Notice of Inmate Rule Violation, affirmed under penalty of
perjury, Dykes provided a different account of the incident.
Dykes claims that Fletcher became "non-compliant"
"when he was asked for his pants." Not. Inmate Rule
Violation at 9, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1, ECF No. 41-5. Timmons
arrived and noticed "what appeared to be a home-made
weapon hanging out of [Fletcher's] pants."
Id. Fletcher allegedly reached for the weapon, which
caused Dykes "to gain control of [Fletcher's]
head" and give "verbal commands to comply"
while "Timmons gained control of [Fletcher's] hands
which caused the weapon to fall out of [Fletcher's]
grasp." Id. The officers recovered a
"home-made weapon made of metal approximately 6" in
length and 2" in width sharpened to a point with a cloth
wrapped handle," which was then taken to an evidence
locker at the prison. Id.
to Fletcher, no weapon was found. Nevertheless, the three
officers then hogtied him and took him out of the cell. At
some point during this transit, Fletcher was dropped on his
head by the officers from a height of 2 ½ feet.
According to Fletcher, he asked, "[W]hat did I do? I
didn't do anything" and offered to not write up a
complaint if the officers would let him return to his cell.
Am. Compl. at 2. The officers replied that "[they] would
but everyone on the tier already saw them handcuff and force
[Fletcher] out the cell and off the tier and they have to
cover their own asses." Id.
states that he was then taken to an office in the prison and
interrogated by the three officers, including asking him
"where are the drugs and weapons?" Id.
Fletcher claimed that he did not know what the officers were
talking about and requested his glasses. Fletcher's legs
were then shackled and he was walked outside in what he
describes as 20 degree weather wearing only his boxers and
socks. At some point during this walk, Fletcher told one of
the Officer Defendants that his "private parts are
hanging out," to which the officer laughed and stated
"his zipper is broken and his privates are hanging out,
was then taken to ECI's medical facility, where he told a
nurse that he had been assaulted by Dykes, Tilghman, and
Timmons. Nurse Tracey L. Hall noted that Fletcher was
"found to have a large reddened abrasions to [his] right
anterior shoulder and [a] single 3 cm scratch to his right
lateral neck." 3/11/17 Med. Report at 2, Mot. Dismiss
Ex. 1A, ECF No. 41-6. Nurse Hall also noted that Fletcher
"was not fully cooperative with questioning" and
stated that he had "no pain." Id.
in the medical unit, Fletcher was questioned by Lieutenant
Donald Adams. According to Fletcher, Lt. Adams refused to
allow Fletcher to write a statement about the incident. An
"Offender's / Detainee's Statement" form,
signed by Lt. Adams, states that Fletcher "refused to
write [a] statement." Statement at 2, Mot. Dismiss Ex.
IB, ECF No. 41-7. Adams then took photos of Fletcher's
injuries and directed the officers to put Fletcher in an
orange jumpsuit. The jumpsuit, however, covered only
Fletcher's legs because the officers refused to uncuff
Fletcher to allow him to put his arms through the top half of
Staff Alert Confinement
was then taken to Cell 4C1 on ECI Housing Unit 4. Fletcher
claims that while in that cell, which he describes as
"the butt-naked room" lacking a light, mirror, or
mattress, Am. Compl. at 3-4, he was denied clothes, forced to
sleep on a concrete floor with only a thin blanket, and
subjected to cold conditions from a window that would not
close that caused him to put paper bags on his feet in an
effort to stay warm. He further asserts that he was denied
showers, given his food in wax paper bags without any
utensils, and denied sanitary items such as a toothbrush and
soap, which caused him to have to eat his food with his hands
without washing them after using the toilet. Fletcher states
that he was moved from Cell 4C1 to 4B11 on March 17, 2017 but
did not receive his first shower until March 20, 2017.
March 11, 2017 memorandum, Lt. Adams stated that he was
putting Fletcher on "Staff Alert" status because
Fletcher "attempted to retrieve a homemade weapon
observed in undershorts as Ofc. C. Dykes & Ofc. J.
Tilghman were conducting a strip search." 3/11/17 Mem.
at 1, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 3, ECF No. 41-9. Cell 4C1 is one of
the cells used for inmates on Staff Alert status, from which
mirrors were removed because inmates were removing the metal
from them. On March 15, 2017, Lt. Adams stated that
Fletcher's behavior had improved and downgraded his
status from "Staff Alert Level I to Staff Alert Level
II." 3/15/17 Mem. at 2, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 3, ECF No.
41-9. Adams again downgraded Fletcher's status on March
17, 2017 and removed him from Staff Alert status completely
on March 21, 2017.
to a log of Fletcher's time on Staff Alert, which tracks
Fletcher's out of cell activity, showers, and daily
behavior, Fletcher was offered both recreation and a shower
on March 15 and March 17, 2017, but was not ready when they
were made available. The maintenance logbook for Cell 4C1
contains no repair orders for a broken window or a lack of
hot water during March or April 2017.
Complaints and Disciplinary Proceedings
filed an Administrative Remedy Procedure complaint
("ARP") on March 18, 2017. In the ARP, Fletcher
recounted the cell search, the alleged assault by Dykes,
Tilghman, and Timmons, and the conditions of Cell 4C1. The
Warden responded to Fletcher's ARP on March 27, 2017 by
stating that Fletcher's "request for Administrative
Remedy has been reviewed and is hereby dismissed for
procedural reason[s]; this issue is being investigated by
IID," referring to ECI's Intelligence &
Investigative Division. ARP No. ECI-0682-17 at 1, Mot.
Dismiss Ex. 7, ECF No. 41-13. "Since this issue is being
investigated by IID," the Warden continued, "no
further action will be taken through the ARP process."
was charged with three violations of prison disciplinary
rules for possession of a homemade knife. At his disciplinary
hearing, a picture of the knife was introduced as evidence,
but Fletcher's medical records were deemed not relevant.
Although Fletcher sought to call as a witness Thomas Vito,
another ECI inmate who allegedly witnessed the March 11, 2017
incident, the institutional representative reported to the
Hearing Officer that Vito declined to testify. In a signed
declaration, submitted by Fletcher as part of a Motion for
Summary Judgment that was previously denied by the Court,
Vito stated that he "never denied to participate in the
in-house hearing as a witness." Vito Decl. at 1, ECF No.
31. He further stated that "[o]n two occasions an
officer verbally asked me if I want to be a witness. At which
both times I agreed." Id.
Hearing Officer found Fletcher guilty of violating rules 105
(possession of a weapon) and 400 (disobeying a direct lawful
order). As punishment, Fletcher received 220 days of
administrative segregation, revocation of good conduct
credits of 185 days, and the suspension of visitation
privileges for one year. Fletcher's appeal of this
decision to the Warden was denied.
this period, Sgt. William Justice of the IID was separately
investigating the March 11, 2017 incident. After interviewing
Dykes, Timmons, and Fletcher, Sgt. Justice obtained a
criminal summons charging Fletcher with possession of a
deadly weapon. The charges resulted in a disposition of
nolle prosequi on September 29, 2017. See State
v. Fletcher, No. D-022-CR-17-000301 (Dist. Ct. Somerset
Cty. 2017), available at http://casesearch.
Motion for Leave to File a Surreply
preliminary matter, the Court addresses Fletcher's Motion
for Leave to File a Surreply. This Court's Local Rules
provide that surreply memoranda are not permitted unless
otherwise ordered by the Court. D. Md. Local R. 105.2(a).
Surreply briefs are generally disfavored in this District,
Chubb & Son v. C & C Complete Servs., LLC,919 F.Supp.2d 666, 679 (D. Md. 2013), but they may be
permitted "when the moving party would be unable to
contest matters presented to the Court for the ...