United States District Court, D. Maryland
PARREN E. GREENE Plaintiff,
KEVIN KAMENETZ, Baltimore County Executive DEBORAH RICHARDSON, Director of Baltimore County Dept. of Corrections, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SHAKIARA BLACK, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SOTERIA LOMAX, BALTIMORE COUNTY DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS Defendants.
K. Bredar, Chief Judge.
E. Greene filed this Complaint during the time he was
confined at the Baltimore County Detention Center as a
pretrial detainee,  alleging that Officers Shakiara Black and
Soteria Lomax each violated his Due Process and Equal
Protection rights by conducting three separate disciplinary
hearings that were not fair or impartial and resulted in
sanctions requiring him to spend more than six months in
restrictive housing. Compl., ECF No. 1; Amended Compl.,
ECF No. 5; Suppl. Compl., ECF No. 10. Defendant Baltimore County
Department of Corrections ("BCDC"), filed a Motion
to Dismiss. ECF 11. Thereafter, BCDC Director Deborah
Richardson and Officers Black and Lomax filed a Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment.
case is briefed and ready for disposition. No. hearing is
necessary to resolve the issues. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For reasons to follow, Defendant BCDC
shall be dismissed from this case and summary judgment shall
be entered in favor of Defendants Richardson, Black, and
alleges the BCDC disciplinary procedure is unfair because
hearing officers are chosen from among the ranks of line
officers and the procedure does not comply with the Code of
Maryland (COMAR), because it subjects detainees to
disciplinary proceedings in front of a hearing officer who is
not a "detached or neutral magistrate," ECF No. 1
at 2. Greene seeks money damages and an immediate return to
general population housing. Id. at 3.
uncontroverted facts that give rise to this lawsuit follow.
In the early morning hours of February 18, 2017, Officer J.
Jones observed Greene assaulting detainee Williams. Jones
wrote an incident report and charged Greene with assault and
for fighting/excessive horseplay. ECF No. 15-5 at 1-2. Greene
acknowledged receipt of the charges placed against him by his
signature. Id. at 2. On February 22, 2017, Officer
Black conducted a disciplinary hearing for Greene regarding
the incident. Greene refused to appear for the hearing.
Id. Black, who was not involved in the incident,
entered a not guilty plea on Greene's behalf.
Id.; Black Aff., ECF No. 15-2, ¶¶ 11, 16.
Black found Greene guilty of assaulting an inmate and not
guilty of fighting/excessive horseplay based on Jones's
incident report and imposed sanctions of 30 days of
restrictive housing consecutive to restrictive housing
sanctions imposed for previous misconduct.
after receiving a disciplinary action for misconduct, Greene
chose to interfere with an inmate count taking place on June
2, 2017. When warned by Sergeant Amaefule that Greene would
be charged for non-compliance, Greene told Amaefule that
"he (Mr. Greene) would fuck him (Sergeant Amaefule)
up." Amaefule and Officer Warren wrote an incident
report charging Greene with interfering with correctional
staff, threatening bodily harm, failing to obey the order of
a correctional officer, and failing to cooperate with the
count or lock-in. ECF No. 15-7 at 1. Greene refused to
acknowledge receiving the charges. Id. at 1. On June
5, 2017, Lomax commenced a disciplinary hearing, which Greene
refused to attend. Id. at 2. Lomax, who was not
involved in the incident, entered a not guilty plea for Mr.
Greene and proceeded with the hearing. ECF No. 15-3, Lomax
Aff., ¶¶ 11, 16. Officer Lomax reviewed the
statements and observations recorded by Officer Warren and
Sergeant Amaefule in Incident Log No. 346014 and found them
to be credible. Lomax Aff. ¶ 17. Based on statements of
the officers and Greene's prior admission that he refused
to obey because he had not received toenail clippers the day
before, Lomax found Greene guilty of all charges and imposed
25 days of restrictive housing to run consecutive to prior
restrictive housing imposed on Greene. Id.,
incurred a third disciplinary notice based on an incident
report when on June 11, 2017, Officer Harrell observed Greene
and fellow inmate Fisher fighting and wrote an incident
report charging Greene with assault on another inmate,
failure to obey the order of a correctional officer, and
fighting/excessive horseplay. ECF No. 15-8 at 1. Greene
acknowledged receiving the charges by his signature on June
11, 2017 (id. at 2), and on June 13, 2017 requested
a postponement of his disciplinary hearing to identify and
summon an inmate witness whose name he could not remember.
Id. The request was granted and on June 14, 2017,
Lomax commenced a hearing. Greene was present and pleaded
guilty to fighting or excessive horseplay and not guilty to
the other charges. ECF No. 15-3, Lomax Aff., ¶ 25.
Greene defended his actions by stating that "[t]o
assault someone is when they don't fight back. As far as
failure to obey, no lights were flickered that we could see
in the cell. I can't assault anyone who was fighting
back. All she [Harrell] saw was him running out the
cell." ECF No. 15-8 at 2. Greene submitted written
questions for the witness, later identified as inmate Dargan,
whom he had requested to testify as a witness at the hearing.
ECF No. 15-9. Out of Greene's presence, Lomax asked
Dargan written questions proposed by Greene. Dargan stated
that the fight between Greene and Fisher began in a cell out
of Harrell's view and that Harrell did not flick the
lights. ECF No. 15-9. Lomax then reviewed the incident log,
determined Harrell's statements credible, reviewed
Greene's admission and Dargan's testimony, and found
Green not guilty of assaulting an inmate, but guilty of
failing to obey an order and fighting/excessive horseplay.
ECF No. 15-9; ECF No. 15-3, Lomax Aff., ¶¶ 28, 30.
Lomax imposed 30 days of restrictive housing to run
consecutive with prior disciplinary actions imposed on
Greene. ECF No. 15-8 at 2.
note that the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) for State
detention facilities does not require that a hearing officer
be detached or neutral from the facility.Defendants further
state that BCDC's disciplinary procedure does not forbid
a hearing officer employed by the facility to conduct a
reviewing the Complaint subject to a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the
Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations of the Complaint
as true and construes the facts and reasonable inferences
derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d
418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v.
Matkaril 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)); Ibarra
v. United States, 120F.3d472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997). Rule
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only
a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief." Migdal v. Rowe
Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26 (4th
Cir. 2001); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A.,
534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002) (stating that a complaint need only
satisfy the "simplified pleading standard" of Rule
Supreme Court of the United States has explained that a
"plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds'
of his 'entitlement to relief requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do." Bell Ail. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations
omitted). Nonetheless, the complaint does not need
"detailed factual allegations" to survive a motion
to dismiss. Id. at 555. Instead, "once a claim
has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing
any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint." Id. at 563. To survive a motion to
dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Court is mindful that Greene is self-represented and the
submissions of a pro se litigant must be construed liberally.
See Carter v. Fleming, 879 F.3d, 32, 137 (4th Cir.
2018); Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir.
2009). Nevertheless, "where the well-pleaded facts do
not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility
of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -but it has not
'show[n]' -'that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting
claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by
showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in
the complaint." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563,
citing Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology,
Inc., 40 F.3d, 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994) (once a claim
for relief has been stated, a plaintiff "receives the
benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are
consistent with the complaint").
motion is styled as a motion to dismiss and will be examined
solely within this context. The Motion submitted by
Defendants Richardson, Black, and Lomax is styled as a motion
to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment under Rule 56. A motion styled in this
manner implicates the court's discretion under Rule 12(d)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington
Vol. Fire Dept, Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 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, Inc., 510 F.3d 442, 450
(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). 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).
contrast, the Court may not convert a motion to dismiss to
one for summary judgment sua sponte, unless it gives
notice to the parties that it will do so. See
Laughlin, 149 F.3d at 261 (stating that a district court
"clearly has an obligation to notify parties regarding
any court-instituted changes" in the posture of a
motion, including conversion under Rule 12(d)); Finley
Lines Joint Protective Bd. Unit 200 v. Norfolk So.
Corp.,109 F.3d 993, 997 (4th Cir. 1997) ("[A] Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss supported by extraneous materials
cannot be regarded as one for summary judgment until the
district court acts to convert the motion by indicating that
it will not exclude from its consideration of the motion the
supporting extraneous ...