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McFadden v. Legrand

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 8, 2018

ALLEN MICHAEL McFADDEN, # 562-393, Plaintiff
v.
RONEL LEGRAND, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Allen Michael McFadden, a prisoner in the Maryland Division of Correction (“DOC”), filed a civil rights action against Officer Ronel Legrand, [1] a DOC employee at Central Maryland Correctional Facility (“CMCF”), located in Sykesville, Maryland.[2] In his unverified complaint, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, McFadden claims that Legrand doused him with pepper spray in the early afternoon of July 19, 2017, after McFadden, who was awaiting transport to another institution, banged on the door of his holding cell, asking to use the bathroom. ECF 1 at 3.[3] McFadden seeks $200, 000 in damages.[4]

         Legrand has moved to dismiss the claim and, alternatively, requests summary judgment, arguing that the use of force was justified. ECF 15 (Motion); ECF 15-1 (Memorandum) (collectively, the “Motion”).[5] The Motion is supported by exhibits. McFadden filed an opposition to Legrand's motion (ECF 17, Opposition; ECF 17-1, Memorandum) (collectively, “Opposition”) asserting for the first time that Legrand had verbally abused him and threatened to spray him with pepper spray earlier in the day, prior to the incident, and told McFadden he would have done so, were it not for the presence of security cameras. ECF 17-1 at 3. Further, plaintiff moves to compel Legrand to produce a video recording of the incident (ECF 18; ECF 23), as well as a copy of Legrand's use of force history. ECF 22.

         Upon review of the submissions, the Court finds a hearing on the pending matters unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). As set forth herein, McFadden's motions to compel are DENIED and Legrand's Motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, is GRANTED.

         I. Standard of Review

         Defendant's Motion is styled as a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. ECF 12. A motion styled in this manner implicate the Court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v. Montgomery County, 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011).

         Ordinarily, a court “is not to consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion to dismiss.” Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the court does so, “the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, ” and “[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). see Adams Hous., LLC v. The City of Salisbury, Maryland, 672 Fed.Appx. 220, 222 (4th Cir. 2016) (per curiam). But, when the movant expressly captions its motion “in the alternative” as one for summary judgment, and submits matters outside the pleadings for the court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court “does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).[6]

         A district judge has “complete discretion to determine whether or not to accept the submission of any material beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby converting the motion, or to reject it or simply not consider it.” 5C Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.). This discretion “should be exercised with great caution and attention to the parties' procedural rights.” Id. at 149. In general, courts are guided by whether consideration of extraneous material “is likely to facilitate the disposition of the action, ” and “whether discovery prior to the utilization of the summary judgment procedure” is necessary. Id. at 165-67.

         In general, summary judgment is inappropriate “where the parties have not had an opportunity for reasonable discovery.” E.I. du Pont De Nemours and Co. v. Kolon Industries, Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448-49 (4th Cir. 2012); see Putney v. Likin, 656 Fed.Appx. 632, 638 (4th Cir. 2016) (per curiam); McCray v. Maryland Dep't of Transp., 741 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2015). However, “the 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)); see also Dave & Buster's, Inc. v. White Flint Mall, LLLP, 616 Fed.Appx. 552, 561 (4th Cir. 2015).

         To raise adequately the issue that discovery is needed, the non-movant typically must file an affidavit or declaration pursuant to Rule 56(d) (formerly Rule 56(f)), explaining why, “for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, ” without needed discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d); see Harrods, 302 F.3d at 244-45 (discussing affidavit requirement of former Rule 56(f)) “[T]o justify a denial of summary judgment on the grounds that additional discovery is necessary, the facts identified in a Rule 56 affidavit must be ‘essential to [the] opposition.'” Scott v. Nuvell Fin. Servs., LLC, 789 F.Supp.2d 637, 641 (D. Md. 2011) (alteration in original) (citation omitted). A nonmoving party's Rule 56(d) request for additional discovery is properly denied “where the additional evidence sought for discovery would not have by itself created a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment.” Strag v. Bd. of Trs., Craven Cmty. Coll., 55 F.3d 943, 954 (4th Cir. 1995); see Amirmokri v. Abraham, 437 F.Supp.2d 414, 420 (D. Md. 2006), aff'd, 266 Fed.Appx. 274 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 885 (2008).

         McFadden has requested discovery: the production of a video recording and a list of use of force incidents involving Legrand. ECF 18; ECF 22; ECF 23. Defendant has responded (ECF 21) to the Court's Order (ECF 20) and has provided a Declaration from Jon Scramlin, a DOC Case Management Manager at CMCF, as well as exhibits. ECF 21-1. Scramlin avers that there are no video cameras in the administrative hallway where the temporary holding cell is located. Id. at 1, ¶ 4; see also ECF 21-1 at 6, 7. His averment finds support in the Use of Force Report filed on the day of the incident, which expressly notes that the event was not recorded on video. ECF 21-1 at 1, ¶ 4; ECF 21-1 at 3.

         McFadden contends cameras do exist in the vicinity of the holding cell and asks this Court to send a private investigator to so prove. ECF 23 at 1. The presence of a security camera or monitor does not mean the equipment is capable of producing video evidence, however. Similarly, his request for the production of Legrand's use of force history, based on his claim that Legrand “has a history of unnecessary use of force on inmates” (ECF 22), is predicated purely on speculation as to what the production of such information might reveal.

         It is apparent that additional discovery is not needed, given the record already produced in this case. In light of the foregoing, I am satisfied that it is appropriate to address Legrand's Motion, which relies on matters outside the pleadings, as one for summary judgment, and to deny McFadden's requests for discovery.

         Summary judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides, in part: “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the motion: “By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the ...


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