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Shortz v. Dovey

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 9, 2018

THADDEUS SHORTZ, Inmate Identification No. 447-109, Plaintiff,



         Thaddeus Shortz, an inmate now confined at Jessup Correctional Institution ("JCI") in Jessup, Maryland, has filed a civil action against Maryland Correctional Training Center ("MCTC") personnel Warden Richard Dovey, Assistant Warden Steven Myers, Lieutenant Mark Crilly and Officer Ernest Shoemaker for allegedly confiscating his personal wheelchair on two occasions as punishment and thereby limiting his ability to obtain meals, showers, and use the toilet. Shortz claims that these actions violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101-12213 (2012). Presently pending before the Court are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 17, and Shortz's Motion to Amend the Complaint and for an Injunction, ECF No. 26. 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, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED, and Shortz's Motion is DENIED.


         Shortz lost his lower right leg in 2008 as a result of a motorcycle accident. He has a prosthetic leg, but at times he has not been able to use it when the neoprene knee sleeve used to hold it in place was worn out. Shortz can also move about using crutches. While he was housed at MCTC, between May 2, 2016 and September 7, 2016, Shortz also used a personal wheelchair prescribed for him by a doctor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

         I. Wheelchair

         On August 10, 2016, MCTC medical staff evaluated Shortz's needs and ordered a toilet handrail and a new neoprene sleeve. On August 28, 2016, however, Shortz was placed in administrative segregation. At the time of the move, correctional staff noted that he had no paperwork authorizing him to have his personal wheelchair and that he frequently walked around without it. As a result, Shortz's wheelchair was taken away, and Dr. Reilly of the MCTC medical staff ordered crutches for Shortz.

         On August 29, 2016, Shortz filed an Administrative Remedy Procedure grievance ("ARP") regarding the confiscation of his wheelchair, which he refers to as a "Quickie Wheelchair." ARP No. MCTC-1082-16 at 1-2, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 3, ECF No. 17-5. According to Shortz, based on instructions from Dr. Reilly of the MCTC medical staff, Lt. Draper authorized correctional officers, including Officer Shoemaker, to confiscate the wheelchair. He alleged that the confiscation violated the ADA. On August 30, 2015, the wheelchair was returned to Shortz by medical staff.

         On August 31, 2016, Shortz was seen by Physician Assistant Lori Slavick, who noted that he was having a difficult time walking long distances and could not wear the neoprene sleeve for his stump. As a result, a state-issued wheelchair was ordered for Shortz. Shortz's mother was contacted to send a new neoprene sleeve. On September 2, 2016, Shortz received a neoprene stump cover, a neoprene sleeve, and prosthetic socks from his family. That same day, Lt. Crilly re-confiscated the Quickie Wheelchair, which was returned to Shortz's family. On September 7, 2016, Shortz was transferred to JCI, where he was issued a wheelchair and was permitted to be fed in his cell due to his impaired mobility.

         On September 6, 2016, Shortz filed a second ARP, No. MCTC-1095-16, in which he complained about the re-confiscation of his personal wheelchair on September 2. On September 29, 2016, the Warden dismissed the ARP on the grounds that personal wheelchairs are not permitted and that Shortz received a state-issued wheelchair and crutches.

         On September 6, 2016, Shortz filed ARP No. MCTC-1096-16, in which he complained that there were no disability rails around his toilet at MCTC. The ARP was dismissed due to the failure to provide names of the relevant staff and how they responded to any complaints about the lack of handrails. Although Shortz was granted until September 21, 2016 to submit additional information, he failed to do so.

         On October 19, 2016, the Warden dismissed Shortz's August 29, 2016 ARP, noting that Shortz had no paperwork authorizing him to have his Quickie Wheelchair, that it was returned to his family, and that Shortz had been provided crutches and a state-issued wheelchair for use outside his cell. On November 1, 2016, Shortz appealed the ruling to the Commissioner of Correction, arguing that he did not receive a timely response from the Warden, that the response did not address his ADA claim, that the need for personal wheelchair paperwork was not addressed upon his arrival at MCTC, and that the wheelchair confiscation stemmed from an issue that arose with his mother during a visit. The Commissioner found Shortz's appeal to be meritorious in part in that the Warden's response was untimely, but concluded that "the warden fully addressed your complaint" such that no further action or remedy was warranted. ARP Appeal MCTC-1082-16 at 18-20, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 3, ECF No. 17-5. On December 12, 2016, the Commissioner dismissed Shortz's appeal of the September 6, 2016 ARP (MCTC-1095-16) as repetitive of the appeal in MCTC-1082-16. Shortz did not appeal these decisions to the Inmate Grievance Office.

         On August 17, 2017, Shortz filed his Complaint in this case in which he seeks compensatory and punitive damages totaling $550, 000 and the return of his personal wheelchair. On May 29, 2018, Shortz filed a Motion to Amend the Complaint and for an Injunction in which he asserts that during a temporary housing assignment at MCTC on March 29 and 30, 2018, he was placed in a cell that did not have handrails to accommodate his disability and was thus deprived of access to the toilet and bed. He requests an injunction barring his placement in a cell that does not comply with the ADA. Although Shortz had filed an ARP, No. JCI-0292-18, relating to this incident, it was dismissed on April 10, 2018 because he failed to include the names of the staff involved in the incident and the times of their shifts. Although he was given until April 25, 2018 to submit such information, Shortz did not resubmit his ARP with that information.


         I. Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for ...

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