United States District Court, D. Maryland
JEAN B. GERMAIN, Plaintiff,
FRANK B. BISHOP, JR. and LIEUTENANT T. SIRES, Defendants.
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jean B. Germain, an inmate at the North Branch Correctional
Institution ("NBCI") in Cumberland, Maryland, has
filed a Complaint alleging that prison officials failed to
secure his personal property while he was in disciplinary
segregation, in violation of his federal and state
constitutional rights. Defendants have filed a Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment.
Having reviewed the Complaint and the submitted materials,
the Court finds no hearing necessary. See D. Md.
Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion
will be GRANTED.
names as Defendants Frank Bishop, Jr., the Warden of NBCI
("the Warden"); and Lt. Sires, the supervisor of
the Property Room at NBCI. Germain alleges that on February
20, 2015, his personal property was confiscated because he
had been placed in disciplinary segregation. When he was
released from disciplinary segregation on April 26, 2017, his
property was not returned to him. On May 5, 2017, Officer
Gibbner, a correctional officer on Germain's housing
tier, told Germain that Lt. Sires had destroyed his property.
According to Germain, that same day, he submitted a complaint
pursuant to the Administrative Remedy Procedure
("ARP") to Officer Gibbner about the destruction of
his property. Germain asserts that the Unit Manager did not
sign the ARP, and that he did not receive a copy of it as
required by policy. He further claims that he was
"intimidated" by correctional officers to not
submit another ARP about this issue. Compl.¶16, ECF No.
11, 2017, six days after hearing that his property had been
destroyed, Germain filed the Complaint in this case. Germain
asserts that Warden Bishop and Lt. Sires have violated his
rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as
rights under the Maryland Constitution.
seek either dismissal of the Complaint or summary judgment in
their favor, on the grounds that Germain did not exhaust
administrative remedies and that he has failed to state a
plausible constitutional claim.
defeat a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the complaint must allege enough facts to
state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim is plausible
when the facts pleaded allow "the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Id. Legal conclusions or
conclusory statements do not suffice. Id. The Court
must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the
factual allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268
(1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm 'rs
of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005).
Defendants have submitted exhibits with their Motion. When a
court considers matters outside the pleadings, it must
construe the motion as a motion for summary judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Before converting a motion to dismiss to
one for summary judgment, courts must give the nonmoving
party "a reasonable opportunity to present all the
material that is pertinent to the motion." Id.
"Reasonable opportunity" has two requirements: (1)
the nonmoving party must have some indication that the court
is treating the Rule 12(b)(6) motion as a motion for summary
judgment, and (2) the nonmoving party "must be afforded
a reasonable opportunity for discovery" to obtain
information essential to oppose the motion. Gay v.
Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985) (citation
omitted). To show that a reasonable opportunity for discovery
has not been afforded, the nonmoving party must file an
affidavit or declaration under Rule 56(d) explaining why
"for specified reasons, it cannot present facts
essential to justify its opposition." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(d). See Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain
Names, 302 F.3d 214, 245 (4th Cir. 2002); Hamilton
v. Mayor & City Council of Bait., 807 F.Supp.2d 331,
opposing the Motion, Germain has submitted a Rule 56(d)
affidavit in which he asserts that discovery is necessary on
the issue of whether he filed an ARP relating to the
destruction of his property. He seeks evidence to establish
that he submitted such an ARP to Officer Gibbner on May 5,
2017, that Officer Gibbner did not provide a copy of the ARP
to him and threatened to return him to segregation if he
challenged the destruction of his property, and that as
result of such "game-playing"" such
administrative remedies were not available to him. PL's
Rule 56(d) Aff. at 2, ECF No. 14. Complaining that his
appeals to the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO") are
always dismissed, he also seeks records of the history of his
other ARP filings to show that the ARP process is a
"sham." Id. at 4. Defendants have, in
fact, provided the history of his ARP filings by attaching
Germain's ARP Index to the Motion. As for the other
requested information, the Court concludes that discovery is
not necessary to allow Germain to oppose the Motion because,
as discussed in greater detail below, even assuming that the
facts Germain seeks to establish through discovery are true,
he has failed to state a valid federal claim. The Court will
therefore construe the motion as seeking summary judgment for
purposes of the exhaustion of administrative remedies
argument, but as a motion to dismiss for all other purposes.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants
summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court
views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the
record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat
v. Balt. Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522
(4th Cir. 2003). The nonmoving party has the burden to show a
genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushtta Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87
(1986). A fact is "material" if it "might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute of material
fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence
favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to
return a verdict for that party. Mat 248-49.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
argue that Germain's Complaint necessarily fails because
he did not exhaust administrative remedies. Under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No.
104-134 Â§ 803, 110 Stat. 1321 ...