United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOSHUA A. HUFFMAN, Plaintiff
MCO II SHOVEL, LT. BYRD, MRS. WILLIAMS, COS GONZALEZ, and SUPERINTENDENT OF THE WICOMICO COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, Defendants
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MCO Schevel, Lieutenant Byrd, Mrs. Williams, COS Gonzalez,
and the Superintendent of the Wicomico County Detention
Center (“WCDC”), by their counsel, move to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, ECF No.
21, in response to self-represented Plaintiff Joshua A.
Huffman's Amended Complaint, ECF No. 18. Although advised
of his right to file an opposition with affidavits and
exhibits, ECF No. 22, Huffman has not responded, and the time
for doing so has expired. The Court finds that a hearing is
unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. (D. Md. 2016). For
reasons to follow, Defendants' Motion, construed as a
Motion for Summary Judgment, is granted.
is a Maryland state prisoner presently incarcerated at
Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland.
Huffman was initially tried in July 2012 and convicted of
sexual abuse of a minor, two counts of second-degree sex
offense, third-degree sexual offense, second-degree assault,
and causing the ingestion of bodily fluids. The Court of
Special Appeals of Maryland reversed and remanded the
convictions on appeal. Huffman v. State, No. 1847,
Sept. Term 2012 (filed December 9, 2014)). On April 6, 2015,
Huffman was transferred from North Branch Correctional
Institution (NBCI) in Cumberland, Maryland to WCDC. ECF No.
12-6; ECF No. 12-6 at 11 Because Huffman was an alleged child
molester at the time of his detention, he was placed in
protective custody at WCDC. ECF No. 12-6 at 50, 64, 70, 73;
ECF No. 12-1 at 21.
Huffman's second trial, a jury convicted him of sexual
abuse of a minor, second degree sex offense, second degree
assault, and causing ingestion of bodily fluids. On August
13, 2015, Huffman was sentenced in the Circuit Court for
Wicomico County to a life sentence for the second-degree
sexual offense conviction. ECF No. 12-7. The remaining
convictions were merged at sentencing. ECF No. 12-6 at 8. The
judgment was affirmed on appeal. Huffman v. State,
No. 1602. Sept. Term 2015 (filed October 5, 2016). Of the 136
days Huffman was held at WCDC, he served only the last five
days as a convicted prisoner. ECF No. 6 at 21-25.
February 19, 2016, Huffman filed a Complaint against WCDC,
MCO Schevel, Lt Byrd, Mrs. Williams, Sgt. Gonzalez, and
others which he supplemented at the direction of the Court,
alleging that between April and June 2015, while confined at
WCDC, he was improperly placed in protective custody on lock
down status, subjected to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement, denied use of his inhaler, and denied adequate
access to the law library. ECF Nos. 1, 2, 4. As relief,
Huffman asked this Court to award him $1 million in damages.
ECF No. 1. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative for Summary Judgment ECF No. 12. Huffman filed an
opposition to Defendants' first dispositive motion. ECF
24, 2017, the Court granted Defendants' first dispositive
Motion, ECF No. 12, dismissing Huffman's claims against
WCDC with prejudice and dismissing the claims against the
remaining Defendants without prejudice for failure to state a
claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and 28 U.S.C.
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). ECF Nos. 16, 17. The Court dismissed the
claims against the individual Defendants without prejudice to
Huffman filing a supplement to the Complaint to allege the
specific action that each named Defendant took to deprive him
of a constitutional right. ECF Nos. 16, 17.
August 14, 2017, Huffman filed an eleven page Amended
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against MCO II
Schevel, Lt. Byrd, Mrs. Williams, COS Gonzalez, and also
named the Superintendent of WCDC as a defendant. ECF No. 18.
The Complaint alleges Defendants acted with deliberate
indifference to Huffman's medical needs, subjected him to
unsafe conditions of confinement, denied him access to the
courts, and violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments and the Prison Rape Elimination Act
(PREA). As redress, he seeks declaratory and injunctive
relief, $50, 000 in punitive damages, and $50, 000 in
compensatory damages. ECF No. 18 at 9-10. Defendants have
filed the pending Motion seeking dismissal of the Amended
Complaint and Plaintiff has not responded. ECF No. 21-1.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court is mindful of its obligation to liberally construe the
pleadings of pro se litigants. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nonetheless, liberal
construction does not mean that this Court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a
cognizable claim, Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990), or “conjure
up questions never squarely presented.” Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). In
making this determination, “[t]he district court ...
must hold the pro se complaint to less stringent standards
than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read the
complaint liberally.” White v. White, 886 F.2d
721, 722-723 (4th Cir. 1989).
defendants seek dismissal or, in the alternative, summary
judgment, a court may use its discretion, under Rule 12(d),
to determine whether to consider matters outside the
pleadings. See Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't., Inc.
v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md.
2011), aff'd sub nom., Kensington Volunteer Fire
Dep't., Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 684 F.3d 462 (4th
Cir. 2012). Pursuant to Rule 12(d), “[w]hen matters
outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the
court, the 12(b)(6) motion shall be treated as one for
summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule
56.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth.,
149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
outlined two requirements for when a motion to dismiss may be
converted to a motion for summary judgment: (1) the
“parties [must] be given some indication by the court
that it is treating the 12(b)(6) motion as a motion for
summary judgment” and (2) “the parties
‘first [must] be afforded a reasonable opportunity for
discovery.' ” Greater Balt. Ctr. for Pregnancy
Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor of Balt., 721 F.3d 264, 281 (4th
Cir. 2013) (quoting Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177
(4th Cir. 1985)). In circumstances such as presented here,
when the motion is expressly captioned as a motion to dismiss
or in the alternative a motion for summary judgment and
matters outside of the pleadings are submitted, the parties
are deemed to have sufficient notice that conversion may be
granted. See Moret v. Harvey, 381 F.Supp.2d 458, 464
(D. Md. 2005). “[T]he party opposing summary judgment
‘cannot complain that summary judgment was granted
without discovery unless that party has made an attempt to
oppose the motion on the grounds that more time was needed
for discovery.' ” Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty
Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv.
Co., 80 F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996)). Further, Huffman
was provided an opportunity to file an opposition with
affidavits and exhibits, but has not done so. Under the
circumstances presented here, the Court is satisfied that it
is appropriate to address Defendants' dispositive Motion
as one for summary judgment, because matters outside of the
pleadings will be considered. See Bosiger v. U.S.
Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007).
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), the Court must grant summary judgment if
the moving party demonstrates there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. In reviewing a motion for
summary judgment, the Court must draw all justifiable
inferences in favor of the non-movant. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing
Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144,
158-59 (1970)). Once a motion for summary judgment is
properly made and supported, the opposing party has the
burden of showing that a genuine dispute exists.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Whether a fact is considered to be
“material” is determined by the substantive law,
and “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Hooven-Lewis
v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir. 2001).