United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Mary Lou McDonough's Motion
to Dismiss. ECF No. 10. Plaintiff Adrian Terrell Duncan has
responded, and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R.
105.6. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the
has been detained at the Prince George's County
Department of Corrections (“PGDOC”) since June 7,
2016. ECF No. 1 ¶ 11. Throughout Duncan's detention,
Defendant McDonough has been Director of the PGDOC.
Id. ¶ 13. Employees of the PGDOC, including
Correctional Officers and Emergency Response Team
(“ERT”) Officers, have targeted and attacked
Duncan. Id. ¶¶ 46, 51, 56. In February of
2017, Officer Gray threw Duncan onto his bed and punched him,
continuing to strike Duncan until the ERT team arrived to
transport him for medical treatment. Id. ¶ 48.
In April or May of 2017, Officers Jackson and Watkins also
beat Duncan inside his cell, which was not equipped with a
surveillance camera. Id. ¶¶ 52, 54. On
December 22, 2017, Officer Jeter pushed Duncan while he was
standing on a stairwell. Id. ¶ 61. Duncan fell,
and Jeter dragged him down the stairs, “causing the
back of Mr. Duncan's head to hit each step on the way
down.” Id. Jeter then punched Duncan in the
face and body while Duncan remained handcuffed. Id.
¶ 62. Officer Thompson joined the attack, macing Duncan
with oleoresin capsicum foam. Id. During this
confrontation, “at least four of Mr. Duncan's
dreadlocks were ripped from his scalp.” Id.
¶ 68. Officers also orchestrated other attacks on Duncan
by announcing to other detainees that Duncan was gay and a
rapist. Id. ¶ 33. Such announcements provoked
other detainees to threaten and physically assault Duncan.
Id. ¶¶ 36-37. Corrections staff
disregarded Duncan's attempts to receive adequate medical
treatment and to file formal grievances concerning these
attacks. Id. ¶¶ 83-89, 135-43.
experience at the PGDOC is not singular. During the same time
period, Officers beat numerous other detainees. Defendant
Jeter attacked at least seven other detainees, including
Stephon Alexander Robinson, Demetrice Littles, Anthony Davis,
and Jovan Anthony Ali. Id. ¶ 78. Officers Reid,
Cusseaux, Potter, Parsons, Igwe, Montgomery, and Tolbert each
harmed Juan Alex Randolph, Jr., by beating him, macing him,
leaving him bound in four-point restraints overnight and
alone in his cell, and putting him into recreation with other
detainees for whom a separation order had been put in place.
Id. ¶¶ 74-77. Officers Horn and Houston
also beat and maced Steve Jamal Smith. Id. ¶
the protracted pattern of violence initiated at the hands of
PGDOC officers, PGDOC failed to discipline the officers
adequately or provide sufficient training. Id.
¶¶ 74-78. Rather, as a consequence of these
incidents, Defendants placed Duncan and others in solitary
confinement for extended periods. Id. ¶¶
28, 104, 106-08, 110, 112, 114, 118-19. In total, Duncan
spent 22 of his 23 months at PGDOC in solitary confinement.
Id. ¶ 100.
Defendants, including McDonough, have systematically deprived
detainees of any meaningful grievance process to address
officer misconduct. Detainees, including Duncan, have been
given mis-information or no information about how to file
formal grievances, were denied access to forms, and had their
efforts to file grievances halted altogether by officers
working in concert to upend the grievance process. ECF 1 at
11, 2018, Duncan filed his Complaint, alleging claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force, failure to
protect, and detention in inhumane conditions against the
named Corrections and ERT Officers. Id. Duncan also
filed suit against Prince George's County and McDonough,
alleging that the above-described violations arose from the
facility's unconstitutional policies, practices, and
customs. Id. Duncan seeks compensatory and punitive
damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs.
Id. On July 6, 2018, McDonough moved to dismiss the
Complaint as to her. ECF No. 10.
Standard of Review
ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the
well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true and viewed most
favorably to the party pursuing the allegations. Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above a speculative level.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555. “‘[N]aked assertions' of
wrongdoing necessitate some ‘factual enhancement'
within the complaint to cross ‘the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to
relief.'” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d
186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 557). “[C]onclusory statements or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
[suffice].'” EEOC v. Performance Food Grp.,
Inc., 16 F.Supp.3d 584, 588 (D. Md. 2014) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Failure to State a Claim
first argues that the claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against her in her official capacity as director
of the PGDOC fail as a matter of law. ECF No. 14 at 3.
Section 1983 imposes liability upon a state actor who
“‘subjects, or causes to be subjected' an
individual ‘to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution.'” Randall v. Prince George's
Cty., Md., 302 F.3d 188, 202 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting
§ 1983). Municipalities may be sued under § 1983.
Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs.,
436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). “[U]nder Monell, a
municipality is liable only for its own illegal
acts.” Owens v. Balt. City State's Attorneys
Office, 767 F.3d 379, 402 (4th Cir. 2014). Thus, a
municipality is liable when its “policy or custom,
whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or
acts may fairly be said to represent official policy,
inflicts the injury.” Hunter v. Town of Mocksville,
N.C. , 897 F.3d 538, 554 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting
Monell, 436 U.S. at 694) (internal quotation marks
policy or custom may possibly be inferred from continued
inaction in the face of a known history of widespread
constitutional deprivations . . . .” Milligan v.
City of Newport News, 743 F.2d 227, 229-30 (4th Cir.
1984). “However, ‘a municipal policy or custom
giving rise to § 1983 liability will not be inferred
merely from municipal inaction in the face of isolated
constitutional deprivations by municipal
employees.'” Gar ...