United States District Court, D. Maryland
LONNIE K. MURRILL, Plaintiff
WARDEN, BALTIMORE CITY DETENTION CENTER, Defendants
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lonnie K. Murrill is incarcerated at Roxbury Correctional
Institution. On August 7, 2017, he initiated this lawsuit by
filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
he supplemented at court direction. ECF Nos. 1, 2,
Defendants Warden Otis Merritt and the Baltimore City
Detention Center (“BCDC”) filed a motion for
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, ECF No.
18, and Murrill filed an opposition. ECF No. 23. Murrill
subsequently filed an amended complaint,  and a motion for
appointment of counsel. ECF Nos. 24, 25. For reasons to
follow, the court will by separate order dismiss the claims
against BCDC, and grant Murrill's motion for appointment
claims arise from his pre-trial confinement at the Baltimore
City Detention Center (BCDC). ECF Nos. 1, 3, 18-1 at p. 2.
Murrill asserts that he was placed on “lock-up”
instead of administrative segregation because no other beds
were available, and on February 16, 2015, he was assaulted
and injured by his “dangerously strange” cellmate
Joel Santiago. ECF Nos. 1, 3. Murrill was taken to the
Baltimore Shock Trauma Pavilion (“Shock Trauma”)
for treatment. ECF No. 3 at 2, 4. Murrill asserts that
after he was released from Shock Trauma, he was transferred
immediately to the Maryland Division of Correction “to
avoid bearing plaintiff's injury liability. No
administrative remedy was adjudicated at BCDC.” ECF No.
3 at 4. Murrill asserts that he stayed in a prison hospital
for over eight months. ECF No. 3 at 2. He avers that he
attempted to resolve his claims through the administrative
remedy procedure (ARP) process, but his grievance was denied
due to insufficient evidence and because BCDC had
closed. ECF No. 3 at 4.
claims that he sustained permanent neck and spinal cord
injuries due to the housing to which he was assigned at BCDC.
As relief, Murrill asks that Defendants “to pay as much
as they can because my life will always be in pain &
extreme paranoia will always be there….” ECF No.
3 at 3. Later in the complaint, he asks for damages of $50
million due Defendants' negligence. ECF No. 3 at 5.
assert several grounds for dismissal or summary judgment
including: (1) BCDC is not amenable to suit under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983; (2) failure to state a claim; and (3) Murrill
has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.
not properly presented through the ARP process must be
dismissed pursuant to the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §1997e. The PLRA
provides in pertinent part that:
No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions
under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law,
by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other
correctional facility until such administrative remedies as
are available are exhausted.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
exhaustion requirement serves several purposes. These include
“allowing a prison to address complaints about the
program it administers before being subjected to suit,
reducing litigation to the extent complaints are
satisfactorily resolved, and improving litigation that does
occur by leading to the preparation of a useful
record.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 219
(2007); see Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725
(4th Cir. 2008) (exhaustion means providing prison officials
with the opportunity to respond to a complaint through proper
use of administrative remedies). It is designed so that
prisoners pursue administrative grievances until they receive
a final denial of the claims, appealing through all available
stages in the administrative process. Chase v. Peay,
286 F.Supp.2d 523, 530 (D. Md. 2003), aff'd, 98 Fed.Appx.
253 (4th Cir. 2004); Gibbs v. Bureau of Prisons, 986
F.Supp. 941, 943-44 (D. Md. 1997) (dismissing a federal
prisoner's lawsuit for failure to exhaust, where
plaintiff did not appeal his administrative claim through all
four stages of the BOP's grievance process); see also
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 735 (2001) (affirming
dismissal of prisoner's claim for failure to exhaust
where he “never sought intermediate or full
administrative review after prison authority denied
relief”); Thomas v. Woolum, 337 F.3d 720, 726
(6th Cir. 2003) (noting that a prisoner must appeal
administrative rulings “to the highest possible
administrative level”); Pozo v. McCaughtry,
286 F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002) (prisoner must follow all
administrative steps to meet the exhaustion requirement, but
need not seek judicial review).
exhaustion under § 1997e(a) is not a jurisdictional
requirement and does not impose a heightened pleading
requirement on the prisoner. Failure to exhaust
administrative remedies is an affirmative defense to be
pleaded and proven by defendants. See Bock, 549 U.S.
at 215-216; Anderson v. XYZ Correctional Health Services,
Inc., 407 F.2d 674, 682 (4th Cir. 2005). Nevertheless, a
claim that has not been exhausted may not be considered by
this court. See Bock, 549 U.S. at 220. In other
words, exhaustion is mandatory. Ross v. Blake, __
U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1857 (2016), citing Miller v.
French, 530 U.S. 327, 337 (2000) (explaining
“[t]he mandatory ‘shall'. . . normally
creates an obligation impervious to judicial
an inmate must follow the required procedural steps to
exhaust his administrative remedies. Moore v.
Bennette, 517 F.3d at 725, 729. Exhaustion requires
completion of “the administrative review process in
accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including
deadlines.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88,
93 (2006). This requirement is one of “proper
exhaustion of administrative remedies, which ‘means
using all steps that the agency holds out and doing so
properly (so that the agency addresses the issues on
the merits).'” Woodford, 548 U.S. at 93
(quoting Pozo, 286 F.3d at 1024 (7th Cir. 2002)
(emphasis in original)). But, the court is “obligated
to ensure that any defects in [administrative] ...