United States District Court, D. Maryland
BRUCE A. OWENS, Plaintiff,
SGT. C. MAY and ARP COORDINATOR REED RCI, Defendants.
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Bruce A. Owens, an inmate at Roxbury Correctional Institution
("RCI") in Hagerstown, Maryland, has filed a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
that correctional personnel retaliated against him for
serving as a witness in support of another inmate's
complaint and interfered with his due process rights. Service
could not be effected on Defendant ARP Coordinator Reed.
Defendant Sgt. Christopher May responded by filing the
pending Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment. Although Owens was advised of his right to
respond to the Motion, he has not filed a memorandum in
opposition to the Motion. Having reviewed the submitted
materials, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary.
See D. Md. Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set
forth below, all claims against Reed shall be dismissed
without prejudice and May's Motion, construed as a Motion
for Summary Judgment, shall be granted.
action was opened following receipt of correspondence dated
February 4, 2018, in which Owens alleged that May, a
correctional officer at RCI, had retaliated against him for
testifying against another correctional officer. Owens
claimed that May fabricated an unspecified report about him,
resulting in Owens's placement on segregation. Owens
requested guidance from the Court on whether he could file a
formal complaint under § 1983.
February 26, 2018, Owens filed a formal § 1983 Complaint
stating that May "intentionally wrote a fabricated
infraction; served thirty-seven days on segregation; threaten
me with more segregation, haras[s]ment and further
punishment." Compl. at 3, ECF No. 2 (capitalization
altered). Owens further alleged that Reed "denied me
access to IID and denied me access to the courts; refuse to
process the Complaints; violated due process; violated the
Accardi doctrine." Id.
Motion, May assumes that Owens's claim about a false
infraction refers to a Notice of Rule Violation that May
issued to Owens on November 21, 2017. May asserts that he
issued the Notice after viewing a videotape of Owens and
another inmate "exchang[ing] closed fist punches"
while Owens was acting as a referee during a basketball game.
May Decl. ¶¶ 3-5, Mot. Summ. J.
Ex. 3, ECF No. 11-5. Certified records of Owens's
disciplinary hearing reflect that on December 18, 2017, Owens
pleaded guilty to the charged rule violation and did not
appeal the decision to the warden. May further states that on
December 27, 2017, he informed Owens "that he was no
longer authorized to referee basketball games at the gym and
that he should not come to the gym expecting to referee games
until he applied for reinstatement." May Decl
administrative remedy procedure grievance ("ARP")
dated January 3, 2018 and assigned case number RCI-0048-18,
Owens alleged that May threatened him on December 27, 2017 by
stating "do not come to the gym." Records at 20,
Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1, ECF No. 11-3. Owens "request[ed]
the assistance of someone from IID to [intervene] and help me
pursue legal & criminal charges." Id. The
ARP was returned to Owens on February 1, 2018 with
instructions to resubmit the grievance with additional
information explaining why Owens believed this statement to
be a threat, whether May had physically assaulted him,
whether Owens had gone to the gym, and other details. Owens
was also instructed that he had to obtain the signature of a
sergeant or lieutenant on his ARP.
February 14, 2018, four days after he mailed his initial
correspondence to this Court that prompted the opening of
this case, Owens resubmitted ARP No. RCI-0048-18 with the
necessary signature. The resubmitted grievance stated,
"When the accused told me 'Don't come to the
gym,' that was an 'implied threat.'" Records
at 21. He did not answer the other questions, contending that
they were "irrelevant and immaterial to the
complaint." Id. On February 23,
2018, three days before Owens mailed his
formal § 1983 Complaint to this Court, the resubmitted
ARP was dismissed because Owens failed to provide the
the Motion, May has submitted a declaration by RCI's
current ARP Coordinator stating that Owens never submitted an
ARP about the November 21, 2017 incident and that the only
ARP Owens submitted regarding the December 27, 2077 incident
was ARP No. RCI-0048-18. May has also submitted a declaration
from an Administrative Officer of the Inmate Grievance Office
("IGO") stating that Owens filed an appeal of the
denial of ARP No. RCI-0048-18 on April 12, 2018, and that the
appeal had not been decided as of the filing of the Motion.
Motion, May seeks dismissal of the Complaint or summary
judgment in his favor on several grounds, including
Owens's failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
Because the Court finds that Owens did not exhaust
administrative remedies, it need not address the remaining
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 Complain,, the Court may dismiss the Complaint
pursuant to 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. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson
Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005).
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 judgment, 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
judgment, 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 and a notice provided by the Court to
Owens advising him of the provisions of Rules 12 and 56. 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
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2002); Hamilton v. ...