United States District Court, D. Maryland
SEIFULLAH A. ALI, #446-853 Plaintiff
CHAPLAIN FILIBERTO ROMERO, CHAPLAIN JAMES PENN, Defendants.
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
Seifullah A. Ali was detained prior to trial and sentencing
at the Prince George's County Detention Center
(“Detention Center”) between December 23, 2014
and April 21, 2016.While there, Mr. Ali alleged that (1) he
was unable to attend Friday and daily Islamic prayer
services; (2) he was denied inmate grievance forms and legal
calls; (3) he was forced to pay for haircuts and sick call
visits; (4) he was unable to forward money from his
institutional account to his family; (5) he was placed in
segregation prior to adjudication of a disciplinary matter;
and (6) he could not obtain certain legal information from
the library. Compl. ¶¶ 3-6, 8-10. His
Complaint sought money damages for alleged violation of his
civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and injunctive
relief. Id. ¶¶ 11-12; Mot. to Amend, ECF
August 7, 2017, I granted in part and denied in part a motion
for summary judgment filed by Defendants McTerran, Dixon,
McDonough, Bums, Stafford, and Labbe, and dismissed all of
Mr. Ali's claims but his religious exercise claim. Aug.
7, 2017 Or. 1, ECF 33. I also ordered service to be effected
on Chaplains Romero and Penn regarding his religious exercise
served, Chaplain Romero filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
alternative, for Summary Judgment, Romero Mot., ECF No. 37,
and Chaplain Penn filed a Motion to Dismiss, Penn Mot., ECF
No. 44. On September 15, 2017 and October 6, 2017,
respectively, the Clerk of the Court informed Mr. Ali that
Chaplains Romero and Penn each filed a dispositive motion;
that he had seventeen days in which to file a written
opposition to the motion; and that if he failed to respond,
summary judgment could be entered against him without further
notice. See ECF Nos. 41, 45; Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310 (4th Cir. 1975). Mr. Ali
filed a response only to Mr. Romero's motion. Pl.'s
Opp'n, ECF No. 43. A hearing is unnecessary. See
Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Chaplain Penn's Motion to
Dismiss and Chaplain Romero's Motion for Summary
Judgment will be granted. Because Mr. Ali's
allegations fail to state a These claims were dismissed
without prejudice and Ali was informed that these matters
could be brought as separate lawsuits. Apr. 13, 2016 Order at
2, ECF 12. claim for which relief may be granted as to
Chaplains Romero and Penn, his complaint will be dismissed as
to both Chaplains. However, as Plaintiff plausibly has
pleaded a cause of action regarding his free exercise of
religion claim, but has named the wrong defendants, I will
appoint counsel to represent Mr. Ali on this claim only, and
will permit counsel (once he or she has accepted his or her
appointment) thirty days to amend Mr. Ali's Complaint to
identify the correct defendants.
move to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under this
Rule, Mr. Ali's Complaint is subject to dismissal if it
“fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim
for relief, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678-79 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. Rule 12(b)(6)'s purpose “is to test the
sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” Velencia v.
Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md.
Dec. 13, 2012) (quoting Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)).
is proceeding pro se, and his Complaint is to be
construed liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972). However, liberal construction does not
absolve Plaintiff from pleading plausible claims. See
Holsey v. Collins, 90 F.R.D. 122, 128 (D. Md. 1981)
(citing Inmates v. Owens, 561 F.2d 560, 562-63 (4th
for Summary Judgment
Romero alternatively seeks summary judgment. It 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)).
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.
Romero attached to his motion an affidavit, Romero Aff., ECF
No. 37-1; his contract with the Detention Center, ECF No.
37-2; evidence that Mr. Ali participated in Ramadan in 2015,
ECF No. 37-3; and two inmate request forms regarding
clarification on available services, ECF Nos. 37-4, 37-5. In
contrast, Mr. Ali filed an opposition without any evidence,
and filed an unverified complaint. Because Plaintiff's
Complaint is not verified, its factual assertions may not be
considered in opposition to Chaplain Romero's 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)).