United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL, United States District Judge.
Morteames James, a pro se litigant incarcerated at
Brockbridge Correctional Facility (“BCF”) in
Jessup, Maryland, brings this civil rights action against
Defendants Assistant Warden Thomas Wolfe, acting Facility
Administrator John Kelson, and Warden Casey Campbell,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks $250,
000.00 in damages and alleges that the water at BCF is
contaminated with sand and lead, that he “has trouble
thinking” and that he is in danger of liver damage from
lead poisoning. ECF No. 1 at 1-2; ECF No. 6-1. Pending before
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 10.
Plaintiff has not opposed Defendants' Motion,
no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion,
construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is granted.
Court received Plaintiff's Complaint on December 6, 2017.
ECF No. 1. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that he is
“under imminent danger . . . of serious physical
injury” as there is “sand and lead in the
water” at BCF as a result of old pipes. Id. at
1-2. In addition to sand and lead in the water, Plaintiff
also claims that the facility has “bad water from bad
old pipes” and that there is “mold all over and
all kinds.” ECF No. 1 at 1; ECF No. 6. He alleges that
consuming the water has caused him a number of health
problems. In support of his Complaint, Plaintiff includes a
Sick Call Request/Encounter Form that purports to show that
Plaintiff complained of “problems with [his] body from
drinking the lead tainted water.” ECF No. 1-2 at 1.
Plaintiff also asserts that the corrections officers do not
consume the water at BCF and that, according to information
obtained from the internet, BCF is condemned. ECF No. 1 at
March 19, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in
the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 10.
Along with their motion, Defendants submitted supporting
materials to the Court, including communications regarding
recent water testing completed at the correctional facility,
which reported a finding that neither the office water nor
the jail water were contaminated with lead. ECF No. 10-2; ECF
No. 10-4 at 3-5. Defendants also attached Plaintiff's
verified medical records and a declaration affirming that
Plaintiff has not sought any administrative remedies to
resolve this matter. ECF Nos. 10-5, 10-9. Finally, Defendants
contend that the Sick Call Request/Encounter Form is a
falsified copy of another inmate's medical
record. Compare ECF No. 1-2,
with ECF No. 10-3 at 4.
material facts are not in dispute.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion is styled as a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 10. If the Court
considers materials 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; see also Laughlin v.
Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61
(4th Cir. 1998). Furthermore, the Court may grant a motion
for summary judgment before the commencement of discovery.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (stating that the court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact”
without distinguishing pre-or post-discovery).
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
nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving 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. 2001) (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 nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to
return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
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. 1986). 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. Plaintiff was provided
notice of the Defendants' filing of exhibits and
affidavits to support the Motion for Summary Judgment and has
not responded. ECF No. 11.
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on the basis
of qualified immunity and because Plaintiff failed to allege
conditions that rise to the level of cruel and usual
punishment under the Eighth Amendment. ECF No. 10-1 at 6-7,
10-12. Additionally, Defendants assert that they are entitled
to dismissal because they had no personal involvement in
Plaintiff's alleged violation, the Complaint alleges no
facts against them, and Plaintiff has not satisfied the
administrative exhaustion requirement under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Id. at 7-10, 12-14.
For the reasons that follow, the Court agrees that the PLRA
bars Plaintiff's federal claim. The Court also agrees
that Defendants would be entitled to summary judgment, if
Plaintiff had satisfied the exhaustion requirement.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
raise the affirmative defense of non-exhaustion, pursuant to
the PLRA. See ECF No. 10-1 at 12-14; accord
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007). The PLRA
provides, in pertinent part:
No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions
under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law,
by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other
correctional facility until such ...