United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOHN CHILDS, JR., Inmate Identification No. 423-732, Plaintiff,
WARDEN WAYNE WEBB, ASST. WARDEN ROSETTE SWAN and LT. T. SIMMS, Defendants.
THEODORE D. CHUANG JUDGE
John F. Childs, Jr., an inmate at the North Branch
Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, has filed a
civil action against Defendants Warden Wayne Webb, former
Assistant Warden Rosette Swan, and Lt. T. Simms of the Jessup
Correctional Institution ("JCI") in Jessup,
Maryland alleging at assault by Lt. Simms on August 18, 2016.
Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by
Defendants Webb and Swan. Although advised of the opportunity
to oppose this dispositive Motion, ECF No. 18, Childs has not
filed a memorandum in opposition to the Motion. Having
reviewed the submitted materials, the Court finds that no
hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion.
Complaint, Childs asserts that on August 18, 2016, Lt. Simms
and others assaulted him after he threw trash out of the slot
in his cell door into a trash can. At the time, Childs was in
the B-Building of JCI on the A-Tier. According to Childs, Lt.
Simms "was not suppose[d] to be on A-Tier of
B-Building." Am. Compl. at 2, ECF NO.7. Childs asserts
that he suffered injuries to his left leg and seeks $10, 000
April 19, 2017, Childs filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Although Warden Webb and Assistant Warden
Swan have been served with process, service has not been
effectuated on Simms because the Institutional Coordinator at
JCI refused to accept service on his behalf.
Webb and Swan ("Defendants") have filed a Motion to
Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
alleging that (1) the Amended Complaint fails to state a
plausible a claim for relief generally; (2) it fails to state
a claim against Defendants because there is no vicarious
liability under § 1983; and (3) Defendants are entitled
to qualified immunity.
defeat a motion to dismiss under Rule 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);
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007); 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."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although courts should
construe pleadings of self-represented litigants liberally,
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), legal
conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. 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. Albrigh v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of
Comm'rs of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th
Amended Complaint, Childs asserts that he was assaulted by
Simms, but makes no allegations of an assault by Webb or
Swan. In a § 1983 action, the doctrine of respondeat
superior, or vicarious liability, does not apply.
See Love-Lane v. Martin, 355 F.3d 766, 782 (4th Cir.
2004). Accordingly, a supervisory official cannot be held
liable for the acts of a subordinate unless the
supervisor's "indifference or tacit authorization of
subordinates' misconduct" can be deemed to have
caused the injury to the plaintiff. Baynard v.
Malone, 268 F.3d 228, 235 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368, 372 (4th Cir.
1984)). For a supervisor to be found liable for such acts, a
plaintiff must prove that (1) the supervisor has actual or
constructive knowledge that the subordinate was engaged in
conduct that posed a pervasive and unreasonable risk of
constitutional injury to individuals like the plaintiff; (2)
the supervisor's response to that knowledge was so
inadequate as to show deliberate indifference to or tacit
authorization of the subordinate's misconduct; and (3)
there was an affirmative causal link between the
supervisor's inaction and the particular constitutional
injury suffered by the plaintiff. Baynard, 268 F.3d
at 235; Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir.
the only reference to Defendants in the original Complaint or
the Amended Complaint is the ambiguous statement in the
original Complaint that "Mr. Webb nor Ms. Swan gave Lt.
Simms the okay to be on A-tier for any reasons." Compl.
at 2, ECF No.1. Although this statement
could be read to mean either that Defendants authorized
Simms's presence on A-Tier, or that they had not
authorized his presence, the Amended Complaint's
statement that "Lt. Simms was not suppose(d] to be on
A-tier of B-Building" is most fairly read to clarify
that neither Defendants nor any other supervisor had
authorized Simms to be present on the tier where Childs was
housed on the date of the incident. Am. Compl. at 2. Even if,
viewing the pleadings in the light most favorable to Childs,
the Complaint could be construed as stating that Defendants
authorized Simms to be on A-Tier that day, neither the
original Complaint nor the Amended Complaint alleges that
Defendants had any knowledge that Simms would assault Childs,
or was engaged in any conduct that created a risk of such an
assault, on the date in question. There is no allegation that
Defendants responded to the incident in such an inadequate
manner as to constitute tacit authorization of the alleged
assault. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss the claims
against Defendants Webb and Swan because they fail to state a
plausible claim for supervisory liability against them. The
Court need not and does not address Defendants' remaining
arguments for dismissal.
foregoing reasons, it is ...