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Becraft v. Kessie

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 15, 2019

WALTER BECRAFT, Plaintiff
v.
KINGSLEY KESSIE, [1] Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paula Xinis, United States District Judge.

         Walter Becraft, an inmate presently incarcerated at Dorsey Run Correctional Facility in Jessup, Maryland, brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Sgt. Kingsley Kessie, alleging that Kessie interfered with Becraft's medical treatment. ECF No. 1.[2] Kessie moved to dismiss the claims or alternatively for summary judgment in his favor. ECF No. 15. Becraft was advised of his right to respond to Kessie's motion (ECF No. 16) but has failed to do so. The Court has reviewed the pleadings and finds a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the following reasons, Kessie's motion is granted.

         I. Background

         According to his Complaint, Becraft is a self-described “brittle diabetic.” On September 22, 2017, Becraft went to the medical unit to receive his insulin. ECF No. 4 at p. 7. Because his blood sugar was low, “medical told [him] to go eat at the kitchen.” Id. At the cafeteria, Kessie refused to allow Becraft to eat and directed him to leave the table. Id. Becraft “refused to leave the table because [he] was falling out, and [he] was drinking juice to bring [his] sugar up.” Id. Kessie ordered Becraft to stop drinking and leave the cafeteria, orders which, in Becraft's view, put his life in danger. Id. Consequently, Becraft received an infraction which amounts to punishment “for having a low blood sugar.” Id. As relief, Becraft seeks restoration of his good conduct credits, outside clearance, back pay, and compensation for the attendant emotional stress. ECF No. 4 at p. 7.

         On May 11, 2018, Kessie moved for dismissal or alternatively summary judgment in his favor. Kessie included as record evidence relevant portions of Becraft's medical records, an affidavit of Correctional Dietary Manager Ronald Hale, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services' Medical Diet Manual, Becraft's commissary orders, records regarding the rule infraction issued as a result of the September 22, 2017 incident, and a transcript of the rule violation hearing. ECF No. 15-2 (medical records), ECF No. 15-3 (Hale Affidavit), ECF No. 15-4 at pp. 2-19 (medical diet manual); ECF No. 15-4 at pp. 20-44 (commissary orders); ECF No. 15-4 at pp. 45-55 (rule infraction records); ECF No. 15-5 (medical records); ECF No. 15-6 (transcript of rule violation hearing). The following summarizes the pertinent facts taken from these records.

         Becraft is a chronic care clinic patient regularly seen by medical staff at the prison to treat and manage his diabetic condition. ECF No. 15-2. The medical staff have provided Becraft education and nutrition counseling to manage his type II diabetes, afforded a 2400 calorie diabetic diet, prescribed medication, and monitored Becraft's blood glucose levels daily.[3] ECF Nos. 15-2, 15-5. Previously, when Becraft went to medical unit with low blood sugar, medical personnel provided him food or glucose in the medical unit, then rechecked his blood sugar before releasing him. ECF No. 15-2 at p. 33; ECF No. 15-5 at pp. 5, 36, 38. The records do not reflect that Becraft's blood glucose was checked on September 22, 2017, as he alleges. ECF No. 15-2 at p. 2 (record of glucose monitoring from 8/10/2017-10/01/2017).

         On September 5, 2017, Becraft was granted permission to carry snacks with him at all times to combat his low blood sugar. ECF No. 15-2 at p. 39. Per medical unit protocol, an inmate prescribed a diebetic snack bag receives the bag every day during the dinner meal. ECF No. 15-3, ¶ 2. The inmate is permitted to have the bag in the dormitory so that he may eat when necessary. Id. Additionally, Becraft's prison commissary orders during that time reflect regular purchases of sugary snacks such as cookies, candies, danishes, and doughnuts. ECF No. 15-4 at pp. 20-27.

         On September 22, 2017, Kessie issued to Becraft a Notice of Inmate Rule Infraction. ECF No. 15-4 at p. 45. Under the penalties of perjury, Kessie attested that he was the assigned duty officer monitoring inmate movement during dinner. As Kessie sat inmates, he assigned Becraft a seat which Becraft refused to take. Id. Becraft told Kessie that he was diabetic and was not going to sit anywhere other than a seat in the front row. Id. Another inmate joined the protest, also refusing to sit in his assigned seat, thus “throwing the entire dining room into chaos.” Id. Becraft then ignored Kessie's direct orders, and remained standing in the middle of the front row, holding his food tray until his desired seat became available. Becraft and the other disruptive inmate then sat at the front row table. Id. Both inmates were charged with violating rules 100 (engaging in a disruptive act), 312 (interfering with or resisting the performance of staff duties), 400 (disobeying an order), and 402 (being in a location without authorization).

         Becraft was served with the notice of rule violation and a hearing was held on September 25, 2017. ECF No. 15-4 at pp. 48-49. Becraft waived representation and the calling of witnesses. ECF No. 15-6 at p. 2. Kessie's report was read into the record. ECF No. 15-4 at p. 50; ECF 15-6 at p. 3. Becraft testified that he had gone to get his insulin and he had “so long before the insulin kicks in, to eat.” ECF No. 15-6 at p. 3. Becraft explained that the dining hall was in chaos because Kessie had initially shut down the cafeteria medical line then reopened it. Id. Becraft testified that even though Kessie told him to return to his unit until the line reopened, Becraft went back because he “had to eat.” Id. Becraft started shaking, and other inmates gave him juice to bring his blood sugar level up. ECF No. 15-4 at pp. 50-51; ECF No. 15-6 at p. 3. Becraft admitted that he sat down nearest to where the juice was dispensed because access to juice “was saving [his] life.” ECF No. 15-6 at p. 3. Becraft described the situation as “chaotic” because Kessie was screaming and inmates crowded the area. Id.

         The hearing officer ultimately found Becraft guilty of violating rules 312, 402 and 400. ECF No. 15-4 at p. 51; ECF No. 15-6 at p. 4. As a sanction, Becraft lost 10 days of good conduct credits. ECF No. 15-4 at p. 52; ECF No. 15-6 at p. 5.

         The Court now turns to the sufficiency of Becraft's claims.

         II. Standard of Review

         Where, as here, the parties submit evidence beyond the four corners of the Complaint, the Court may treat the motion as one for summary judgment. See 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” means that the nonmoving party must be aware that the court may treat the motion as one for summary judgment and “be afforded a reasonable opportunity for discovery” if necessary to oppose the motion. Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). To do so, 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” without formal discovery, or otherwise put the district court on notice of the reasons why summary judgment is premature. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d). See also Harrods, Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244-45 (4th Cir. 2002).

         The Court treats Kessie's motion as one for summary judgment. Becraft knew from the motion itself that Kessie sought summary judgment. Moreover, Becraft has not requested additional discovery under Rule 56(d) or otherwise asked to take formal discovery prior to resolution, and the submitted record evidence appears to include Becraft's prison medical ...


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