United States District Court, D. Maryland
SHAKIR A. MITCHELL, # 450-764, Plaintiff
FRANK B. BISHOP, JR., Warden NBCI, LT. VAUGHN WHITEMAN, OFC. RANDY WARD, Defendants
Xinis United States District Judge
Shakir A. Mitchell brings this civil rights action against
the Warden and two Corrections Officers at North Branch
Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland
(“NBCI”) stemming from an incident occurring on
April 21, 2017. Mitchell alleges that his pre-existing
shoulder injury was exacerbated when corrections officers
took him to the ground and handcuffed him. Mitchell also
complains that his cane had been improperly confiscated, and
that officers “threatened [him] and called [him] racist
names.” ECF No. 1 at 2-3. As damages, Mitchell demands
$2, 000, 000.00 and asks this Court to order Defendant
Whiteman's termination and Correctional Officer
Ward's demotion. ECF No. 1 at 4.
pending before the Court are Defendants' motion to
dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment in their
favor. The Court has reviewed the pleadings and finds no
hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the following reasons, Defendants' dispositive
motion is GRANTED.
following facts are not disputed. On April 21, 2017, an
incident arose involving Mitchell's cellmate, James
Young, causing corrections officers to order both men to lock
into their cells. Young and Mitchell refused to comply. ECF
No. 13-2 at 6. According to one corrections officer, Young
struck the officer above his left eye while the officer
attempted to handcuff Young. Id. At the same time,
Mitchell continued to talk to another corrections and not
lock in to his cell. The officer then took Mitchell to the
ground. Mitchell was then handcuffed and escorted
from the area. ECF No. 13-2 at 6, 8, 24. Mitchell was placed
in the “bullpen” without his cane, causing him to
fall to the floor where he remained in pain from the
takedown. ECF No. 15-2. Mitchell was taken to the medical
unit where he initially refused evaluation or treatment but
then later accepted medical care for his back pain. ECF No.
13-2 at 5-22. ECF No. 13-2 at 22; ECF 13-6 at 12. Mitchell
was placed on the segregation unit pending an adjustment
proceeding and was denied his cane except when permitted to
leave his cell. ECF No. 13-2 at 24-25. See also ECF
13-5, ¶¶ 5-6 (Ward Decl.).
was charged with violating Rule 312 (interfering with or
resisting the performance of staff duties to include a search
of a person, item, area, or location) and Rule 401 (refusing
to work, carry out an assignment, or accept a housing
assignment). Id. Mitchell pleaded guilty to
violating Rule 401 and was sentenced to 30 days of
segregation. Id. at 17-19. A medical order for using
the cane was cancelled by Nurse Christa Belack effective May
1, 2017. ECF No. 13-2 at 25; ECF No. 13-6 at 15.
principally argue that Mitchell's claims cannot proceed
because the officers used the minimum force necessary to
maintain order and discipline, and any threatening and
abusive language uttered during the incident is insufficient
to state a claim. Additionally, Defendants argue that they
are immune from suit in their official capacities. Warden
Bishop asserts that he played no role in the incident. ECF
Standard of Review
parties have submitted evidence that goes beyond the four
corners of the Complaint. Accordingly, the Court treats this
motion as one for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).
Pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, summary judgment shall be granted if the movant
shows that no genuine dispute exists as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
“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 requirement is
that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). “The
party opposing a properly supported motion for summary
judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of
[his] pleadings, but rather must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See
Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346
F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The Court must view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and
draw all inferences in his favor without weighing the
evidence or assessing witness credibility. See Dennis v.
Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d
639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). Factually unsupported claims and
defenses are not to proceed to trial. Bouchat, 346
F.3d at 526.
Claims against Warden Bishop
theory of liability as to Warden Bishop is based on his
supervisory status as Warden. However, where a Plaintiff
seeks relief for constitutional violations pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, the doctrine of respondeat
superior does not apply. See Love-Lane v.
Martin, 355 F.3d 766, 782 (4th Cir. 2004) (no
respondeat superior liability under' 1983).
Accordingly, a supervisory official cannot be held liable for
the acts of his subordinates; rather, liability must be based
on “supervisory indifference or tacit authorization of
subordinates' misconduct” as a “causative
factor in the constitutional injuries they inflict on those
committed to their care.” Baynard v. Malone,
268 F.3d 228, 235 (4th Cir. 2001), citing Slakan v.
Porter, 737 F.2d 368, 372 (4th Cir. 1984). More
particularly, to survive summary judgment, the Plaintiff must
demonstrate that: (1) the supervisor had actual or
constructive knowledge that his subordinate was engaged in
conduct that posed a pervasive and unreasonable risk of
constitutional injury to citizens like the plaintiff; (2) the
supervisor's response was so inadequate as to show
deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization of the
alleged offensive practices; and (3) an affirmative causal
link exists between the supervisor's inaction and the
particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.
See Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir.
the facts most favorably to Mitchell, the claims against
Bishop must fail. No. record evidence shows that Bishop was
involved in the April 21, 2017 incident. Nor does Mitchell
demonstrate that Bishop knew that officers engaged
constitutionally deficient conduct for which Bishop took no
affirmative remedial action. Summary judgment in favor
Bishop, therefore, is granted.
Claims against ...