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Pevie v. Lyon

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 3, 2019

TERRANCE PEVIE, Inmate Identificaiion No. 404-424, Plaintiff,
v.
KEITH LYONS, Warden, JCI, SCOTT D. SNYDER, Maintenance Manager, ALLEN GANG, Chiefof Security, individually and in their official capacities, [1] Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Terrance Pevie, an inmate now confined at Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI") in Westover, Maryland, has filed a civil action against Jessup Correctional Institution ("JCI") personnel Warden Keith Lyons ("the Warden"); Scott D. Snyder, Maintenance Manager; and Allen Gang, Chief of Security, for allegedly failing to repair exposed electrical wires that caused serious injury to Pevie while he was incarcerated at JCI. Pevie claims that Defendants thus violated his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendmenss to the United States Constitution and seeks declaratory relief and monetary damages against each Defendant in his individual and official capacity. Defendants Snyder and Gang have yet to be properly served.

         Presently pending before the Court is the Wardenss Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. In response, Pevie filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgmen,, which the Court construes as a memorandum in opposition to the Wardenss Motion. Upon review of 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 Wardenss Motion is GRANTED, and the claims against the unserved Defendants, Snyder and Gang, are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         On the morning of November 14, 2015, Pevie was participating in recreation in a dayroom in the B-Building of JCI when he backed into an uncovered electrical outlet with exposed wires and was electrocuted. An officer found Pevie on the floor in an unresponsive state. Pevie was taken to the prison infirmary by stretcher, received medical treatment for leg blisters and minor burns caused by the electrical shock, and was observed for several hours prior to discharge back to his cell. In an administraiive remedy procedure grievance ("ARP"), Pevie claimed additional injuries, including second-degree burns to his lower left leg and injuries to his head and neck caused by falling while unconscious. Medical records do not corroborate that he suffered these additional injuries.

         According to Pevie, in the months prior to Pevie's injury, fellow inmate Eric W. Fuller had noticed the exposed wiring and brought the issue to "several officers' attention," but they failed to report this "fire/safety hazard to maintenance to be fixed." CompI. 3, ECF NO.1. Fuller provided an unsworn statement that was attached to Pevie's ARP that confirmed that he had reported the exposed wiring to several officers.

         Pevie's ARP was denied at the institutional and commissioner level before it was reviewed by the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO"). On January 3, 2017, Administrative Law Judge Michelle W. Cole ("ALJ") concluded that the Division of Correction ("DOC") "was negligent when it failed to repair the exposed electrical outlet in the recreation room" and awarded Pevie $1, 100 in compensation for his pain and suffering. ALJ Op. at 9-10, ECF No. 1-3. The ALJ's proposed findings and award were affirmed by Stephen T. Moyer, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, on February 2, 2017.

         In the present Complaint, Pevie asserts that the "unsafe conditions" and "negligence of staff and maintenance" arising from the failure to repair the exposed wiring constituted cruel and unusual punishmen,, in violation of the Eighth Amendmen,, and a violation of his right to due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendmen.. In the Complaint, Pevie makes no specific allegations against the Warden, Snyder, or Gang. In his Opposition, however, Pevie more specifically alleges that Defendants "had actual knowledge of the dangerous conditions" and "the knowledge was gained in sufficient time to give the defendants a[n] opportunity to remove or warn" him of the dangerous condition. Opp'n at 1, ECF No. 25. He further asserts that a "supervisor may also be sued for ignoring or failing to react to a widespread health or safety problem." Id. He also claims for the first time that "[e]very Wednesday both defendants (Lyon and Gang) plus their whole administraiion team visit the segregation building along with mental health doctors to see if any inmates have problems or concerns while on lock up" and that "2 or 3 weeks prior to me getting hurt defendants (Lyon and Gang) stood in front of the broken outlet socket along with the rest of his administraiion team. Lyon could be heard asking officers who were with him 'why wasntt the socket fixed and to fix it immediately.'" Mem. Opp'n at 3, ECF No. 25-2.

         In a declaration submitted with the Motion, the Warden asserts that he expects JCI staff to comply with directives and policies relating to inmate housing and facility conditions. He further states that when responding to an ARP, he relies on the review and investigation by JCI staff in determining whether to approve a proposed response to the ARP.

         DISCUSSION

         In his Motion, the Warden seeks dismissal of the Complaint or summary judgment in his favor on several grounds, including that: (I) the Warden is not personally liable for Pevie's alleged injuries; (2) Pevie fails to state an Eighth Amendment or due process claim; and (3) the Warden is entitled to qualified immunity.

         I. Legal Standards

         The Warden has filed his Motion as a Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Typically, when deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court considers only the complaint and any attached documents "integral to the complaint." Sec 'y of State for Defense v. Trimble Navigation Ltd., 484 F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007). To the extent that grounds for dismissal are based solely on the contents of the Complaint, the Court may dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) if the complaint does not allege enough facts to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 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." Id. 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. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Ed of Comm 'rs of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005).

         Rule 12(d) requires courts to treat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion as a motion for summary judgment where matters outside the pleadings are considered and not excluded. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Before converting a motion to dismiss to one for summary judgmen,, courts must give the nonmoving party "a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Id. "Reasonable opportunity" has two requirements: (1) the nonmoving party must have some indication that the court is treating the Rule 12(b)(6) motion as a motion for summary judgmen,, and (2) the nonmoving party "must be afforded a reasonable opportunity for discovery" to obtain information essential to oppose the motion. Gay v. Wall,761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). Here, the notice requirement has been satisfied by the title of the Motion. To show that a reasonable opportunity for discovery has not been afforded, the nonmoving party must file an affidavit or declaration under Rule 56(d) explaining why "for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition," Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d), or otherwise put the district court on notice of the reasons why summary judgment is premature. See Harrods, Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names,302 F.3d 214, 244-45 (4th Cir. 2002). Here, Pevie ...


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