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Cortney Bryant-El v. Corcoran

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 30, 2019

CORTNEY BRYANT-EL, Plaintiff
v.
DAYENA CORCORAN, et. al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge

         Cortney Bryant-El is incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) in Cumberland, Maryland. On May 24, 2018, he filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that state defendants and medical contractor employees violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. On August 20, 2018, Defendants Tammy Buser, L.P.N., Ryan Browning, R.N., Dawn Hawk, R.N., and Stacie Mast, R.N. (collectively, the Medical Defendants) filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF 10, to which Cortney-El filed an opposition accompanied by his affidavit, ECF 17; ECF 17-1.

         On December 14, 2018, Commissioner of Correction Dayena Corcoran, Lieutenant Walter Iser, Sergeant William Thomas, C.O. II Brian Fann, C.O. II Bobby J. Ziler, C.O. II Douglas E. Frazee, CO. E David J. Donaldson, Sr., C.O. II David C. Robey, and C.O. II Charles L. Barb, (collectively, the State Defendants) filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF 24. On January 9, 2019, Bryant-El filed a Motion to Extend the Time to File a Reply to the State Defendants' Motion until February 2, 2019, ECF 29, which the court granted, ECF 30.

         Bryant-El's claims against the Medical Defendants are ripe for disposition and will be considered here. His claims against the State Defendants will be considered after they become ripe for adjudication.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 26, 2016, Bryant-El, then incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution (WCI), was involved in an incident during which WCI officers administered pepper spray. ECF 1 at p. 5. Bryant-El claims that Defendants Browning and Hawk improperly examined and treated him for pepper spray exposure on January 26, 2017. He states that Defendants Buser and Mast falsely reported that he had refused to attend sick call visits.[1] ECF 1 at p. 26. He further claims Browning, Hawk, and Buser retaliated against him for his actions against correctional officers stemming from the January 26, 2017, incident. ECF 1 at pp. 12, 13, 18. As relief, Bryant-El is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint" and must "draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff." E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations marks and citations omitted). Where, as here, the plaintiff is self-represented, pro se pleadings are "to be liberally construed" and are "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). However, even a pro se litigant's complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege a "plausible claim for relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (internal citation omitted).

         The Supreme Court of the United States explained a "plaintiff's 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 All 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. (internal citation omitted). 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 (internal citation omitted). 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. at 678 (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, at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "[O]nce a 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 (internal citation omitted).

         Summary Judgment is granted if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the motion:

By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

         "A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment 'may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,' but rather must 'set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Boitchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc.,346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (further internal citations omitted). The court should "view the evidence in the light most favorable to ... the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness' credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc.,290 F.3d 639, 645 (4th Cir. 2002) (internal citation omitted). The court, however, also must abide by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt,999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993) and citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Against this standard, the court recognizes that ...


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