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Lawrence v. Department of Correction (D.O.C.)

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 26, 2018



          Date Paula Xinis, United States District Judge

         Self-represented Plaintiff Richard Lawrence, an inmate incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland, brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants, Department of Corrections (“DOC”), Commissioner Dayena Corcoran, WCI, Warden Richard J. Graham, Jr., and Correctional Officer Jamie Ratke (collectively “Defendants”). ECF No. 1. Lawrence claims that Defendants have subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment by housing him at WCI in “dangerous and deadly living conditions, ” and that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Id. He seeks $60, 000, 000 in damages. Id. at 6.

         On April 19, 2018, Defendants moved to dismiss the action, or alternatively, for summary judgment to be granted in their favor. ECF No. 18. Lawrence responded on July 23, 2018. ECF No. 25. After review of the record, exhibits, and applicable law, the Court deems a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Defendants' Motion shall be granted.

         I. Background

         Lawrence alleges that WCI was built without any means to combat the extreme heat during the summer months. ECF No. 1 at 4-5. He more particularly contends that he has been forced to live in dangerous and life-threatening conditions in his cell, to include extreme heat which triggered his chronic seizure disorder. Id. On June 18, 2017 and June 21, 2017, Lawrence suffered three seizures which he believes had occurred because of the extreme heat. ECF No. 1 at 5.[2] On June 26, 2017, the medical department issued an order stating, “Please allow for medical ice & second fan due to medical condition.” Id. Despite this order, Lawrence maintains that Defendant Ratke deliberately refused to deliver Lawrence a second fan and ice to ameliorate the extreme heat. Id. at 6. Lawrence thereafter suffered additional seizures on July 11, 2017, July 17, 2017, and July 21, 2017, and was admitted into the infirmary and placed in a cool cell. Id.

         On July 24, 2017, Lawrence filed Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) No. WCI-1709-17, with respect to the extreme heat in his cell and the exacerbation of his chronic seizure disorder. Id. at 4; ECF No. 1-1. On July 25, 2017, Lawrence was instructed to resubmit the ARP along with a copy of the medical order stating that he was to be given a fan and ice at his request. ECF No. 1-1. Lawrence resubmitted the ARP on July 26, 2017. On August 30, 2017, Warden Graham dismissed the ARP, stating: “Per medical an additional fan is not medically indicated. You also have been receiving your ice on the 8-4 and the 4-12 shift.” ECF No. 18-2 at 2. Lawrence appealed the dismissal of ARP No. WCI-1709-17 to the Commissioner of Correction.

         On August 21, 2017, Lawrence amended ARP No. WCI-1709-17 by filing ARP No. WCI-1983-17 in which he added allegations against Defendant Ratke based on her refusal to give him ice between August 14, 2017 and August 20, 2017. ECF No. 1-4. Id.; ECF No. 1-5.

         On September 26, 2017, the ARP was dismissed with the following response from Warden Graham:

Your request for administrative remedy has been dismissed. An investigation revealed that you did receive your ice. You are not permitted to retrieve the ice yourself. You also will not receive your ice during mass movements. Staff has at no time acted unprofessional or outside the scope of their authority. No. further actions will be taken at this time.

ECF No. 1-5. On September 27, 2017, Lawrence appealed the dismissal of ARP No. WCI-1983-17 to the Commissioner of Correction. ECF No. 1-6.

         On October 16, 2017, Commissioner Corcoran dismissed both appeals. With regard to ARP No. WCI-1709-17, Corcoran concluded after investigation that the Warden had fully addressed both complaints and that the requested provisions were not medically necessary. Lawrence never filed a grievance concerning either action with the Inmate Grievance Office. See ECF No. 18-3; ECF No. 25-2 at 5.

         Defendants do not dispute that Lawrence suffered seizures on June 18 and 21 and July 11, 17, and 21 in 2017. See ECF No. 18-1 at 5. Defendants instead maintain that Lawrence “received prompt medical treatment, his medications were re-evaluated, and he received medical orders for ice and a fan.” Id. Ratke specifically maintains that she did not know Lawrence was suffering from a medical condition requiring the provision of ice. ECF No. 18-4 at 5. The Defendants further assert that Lawrence's requests occurred while other inmates were in movement, so ice could not be provided per security protocols. See ECF 18-2 at 21-23.

         II. Standard of Review

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the claims under Rule 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Motions styled in this manner implicate the Court's discretion under Rule 12(d). See Kensington Vol. Fire Dep't., Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011), aff'd, 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012). When “matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). This Court maintains “‘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 ...

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