Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. D.P.S.C.S.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

August 23, 2018

NATHANIAL SMITH, SR., #422-407, Plaintiff,
v.
D.P.S.C.S., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Nathanial Smith, Sr. brings this pro se action against Correctional Officers at the Maryland Correctional Training Center (“MCTC”), including C.O. II Brian Strait and C.O. II Kevin R. Tew (collectively, “Defendants”), [1] alleging that Defendants failed to protect Plaintiff from an assault on the evening of January 11, 2015. See ECF Nos. 1; 28. Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 24, and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, construed as a response in opposition to Defendants' Motion, ECF No. 29. No hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 11, 2015 at approximately 6:00 p.m., Plaintiff was walking back to his housing unit from the dinner hall along with a group of other inmates. ECF No. 24-2 at 5 (Serious Incident Report MCTC # 15-004).[2] At some point along the way, he was cut on the neck by an unknown assailant. Id. Plaintiff then approached a correctional officer who was in the area near Yard Post 4 and stated, “This shit is crazy.” Id. at 7. Upon noticing that Plaintiff had a cut along the right side of his neck, the officer immediately escorted him to the dispensary for medical treatment. Id. While being escorted to the dispensary, Plaintiff told the officer that he did not know who had cut him. Id.

         A nurse at the dispensary observed that Plaintiff had a 5-inch laceration along his right jaw line. Id. at 8. Plaintiff appeared “alert and oriented, speaking in sentences, in mild distress due to event happening, appears to be in little discomfort, vital signs stable.” Id. Medical staff did not consider Plaintiff's injury to be life-threatening, but given the length of the laceration and its location, Plaintiff was transported to a local hospital for stitches. Id. at 5.

         Defendant Tew was on duty at MCTC on January 11, 2015, working the 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. shift assigned to Yard Post 2. See ECF No. 24-3 ¶ 3. When Tew's shift began at 4:00 p.m., he was stationed at Yard Post 2 monitoring inmate movement as inmates went to and from their housing units to the dinner hall. Id. ¶ 4. Tew was standing approximately 15 yards from the paved center walk the inmates used going to and from the dinner hall. Id. According to Tew, there was a steady flow of hundreds of inmates going to and from the dinner hall walking abreast on the center walk approximately five to six persons across. Id. at ¶ 5. The inmate movement for their dinner meal went from approximately 4:10 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Id. Tew did not witness any assault while he monitored inmate movement. Id. at ¶ 6. Moreover, prior to the incident, Tew had no knowledge that Plaintiff might be the target of assault by another inmate. Id. Plaintiff never informed Tew of any potential threat of harm to himself by another inmate. Id.

         Tew conducted a search of the Yard Post 2 area at about 6:30 p.m. and recovered a homemade weapon approximately 30 yard past where he was stationed during inmate movement. ECF No. 24-2 at 14; ECF No. 24-3 ¶ 7. The weapon was made from a razor blade clipped to a broken pen, which Tew placed in the contraband locker. ECF No. 24-2 at 14. Photographs of Plaintiff's injuries as well as the homemade weapon believed to be used in the assault were recorded by correctional staff. Id. at 18-20.

         Defendant Strait was on duty at MCTC on January 11, 2015, working the 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. shift assigned to Yard Post 1. ECF No. 24-4 at ¶ 3. When Strait's shift began at 4:00 p.m., he was stationed at Yard Post 1, which is the Yard Post located nearest to the dinner hall on the opposite side of the paved center walk from Yard Post 2. Id. ¶ 4. Strait monitored inmate movement to and from the housing units to the dinner hall. Id. He was standing approximately 15 yards from the center walk. Id. Strait had no knowledge that Plaintiff might be the target of assault by another inmate. Id. Plaintiff never informed Strait of any potential threat of harm to himself by another inmate. Id.

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Tew and Strait were not at their assigned posts, which Plaintiffs claims constitutes negligence, misconduct, and deliberate indifference pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See ECF Nos. 1; 28.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Defendants' motion is styled as a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. If the Court considers matter outside the pleadings, as the Court does here, the Court must treat a motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the Court treats a motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment, “[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.” Id. It is obvious that when the moving party styles its motion as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or, alternatively, motion for summary judgment, as is the case here, and the nonmoving party attaches exhibits to its opposition, the nonmoving party is aware that materials outside the pleadings are before the Court, and the Court can treat the motion as one for summary judgment. See Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports. Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998). Plaintiff has filed a response to Defendants' Motion, attaching additional materials not found within his Complaint. ECF No. 29.

         Summary judgment is appropriate if “materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), show 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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that no genuine dispute exists as to material facts. Pulliam Inv., Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). If the moving party demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the non-moving party's case, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to identify specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. A material fact is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material fact is only genuine if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Id. at 248. However, the nonmoving party “cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985). The Court may only rely on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings, in order to fulfill its “affirmative obligation . . . to prevent ‘factually unsupported claims or defenses' from proceeding to trial.” Felty v., Grave-Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324-25). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claim does not rise to the level of deliberate indifference cognizable under § 1983. ECF No. 24-1. “The Eighth Amendment's prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishments' imposes certain basic duties on prison officials.” Raynor v. Pugh, 817 F.3d 123, 127 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994)). Those duties “include maintaining humane conditions of confinement, including the provision of adequate medical care and . . . reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.” Id. (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832). “[N]ot every injury suffered by a prisoner at the hands of another translates into constitutional liability for prison officials responsible for the victim's safety.” Makdessi v. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.