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Locklear v. Moyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 19, 2019

ADAM LOCKLEAR, Plaintiff
v.
STEPHEN T. MOYER, Secretary of Public Safety, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge

         Maryland inmate Adam Locklear filed a verified Complaint and verified Attachment in this civil rights action, alleging that he was physically assaulted and verbally harassed by correctional officers and housed in inadequate conditions at Western Correctional Institution. Compl., ECF No. 1; Att., ECF No. 1-1. He claims excessive force, harassment, and failure to protect him from assault, and he challenges his conditions of confinement. He named Stephen T. Moyer, Secretary of Public Safety; Warden of WCI Richard Graham, Jr.; Lieutenant James Smith; and Correctional Officers J. Weimer, G. Durst, T. Warmick, and C. Davis as Defendants.

         Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 28, along with a Memorandum in Support, ECF No. 28-1, and Plaintiff filed correspondence that the Court will construe as an Opposition, ECF No. 31. The matter is now ripe for review. A hearing is not necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). Because Locklear failed to exhaust all but his excessive force claims, and a genuine dispute of material facts exists regarding the amount of force used against him, Defendants' dispositive Motion, treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is DENIED as to the excessive force claims against Defendants G. Durst and C. Davis, and GRANTED as to the remaining claims and Defendants. The Court will appoint pro bono counsel to represent Plaintiff on his excessive force claims.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was transferred to Western Correctional Institution in December 2016. He alleges that upon arrival, Lieutenant James Smith stated “Oh, Locklear, I been waiting on you, you better not throw no trays on us out here, they will kill you out here.” Pl.'s Att. 1. Smith asserts that he did not make this statement. Smith Decl. 2, ECF No. 28-4.

         Plaintiff reports that he spent his first four and half days at WCI in a “contensioncy cell, ” which was filthy and unsanitary. Pl.'s Att. 1. He states that the cell lacked a “bunk” and toilet paper, and that he was denied a shower, clean clothes, and his medication. Id. Smith asserts that Plaintiff was only housed on Staff Alert for two days; that Plaintiff was not denied showers, medication or access to medical care; and that “at no time was [Plaintiff] placed in a cell with urine, feces, mold, bugs, pepper spray, etc.” Smith Decl.

         After being released from the “contensioncy cell, ” Plaintiff states he was housed with a “known homosexual.” Pl.'s Att. 1. Plaintiff claims that this housing assignment placed both his and his cellmate's “life in danger due to [Plaintiff's] affiliation” with the Crips. Id. Plaintiff claims that he later dropped his affiliation with the Crips and consequently has a “contract HIT on [his] head.”[1] Id. He also claims that, while he was housed in the cell with a homosexual cellmate, other inmates threw “human waste, urine, spoiled milk, and dead mice” at him, and correctional officers (whom he does not identify by name) did not take any action to protect him or punish the offending inmates. Id.

         On March 9, 2017, Correctional Officers Durst, Warnick, Davis, and Weimer were involved in a search of Plaintiff's cell. Id. at 2. Plaintiff reports that during the search his property “was being willfully discarded” and that the officers were “breaking and ripping things.” Id. After the search was complete, there was an altercation between Plaintiff and Defendant Durst during which Durst maced Plaintiff. The parties present competing versions of the altercation.

         According to Plaintiff's sworn Complaint, after search ended, he “was let back in the cell still secured in handcuffs[.] Ofc. G. Durst COII pulled his mace can out and sprayed [him] with the whole can. They opened the cell door directing [him] to lay down, they picked [him] up by both arms and legs.” Id. (emphasis added). Officers carried Plaintiff away from the cell to the medical department, where Plaintiff was evaluated by a registered nurse for mace exposure. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that, before being returned to his cell, he was “vigorously[] and physically assaulted by OFC. C. Davis.” Id.

         Durst issued a sworn Notice of Inmate Rule Violation (NOIRV) to Plaintiff following the incident, charging Plaintiff with using intimidating, coercive, or threatening language; interfering with or resisting the performance of staff duties to include a search of a person, item, area, or location; and disobeying an order.[2] NOIRV, ECF No. 28-3, at 18. In the NOIRV's Statement of Facts, Durst reported:

At the completion of the cell search Locklear walked to the rear of the cell so that the cell door could be closed. I called for the cell door to be closed, via my radio. Before the control center Officer could get the cell door closed Inmate Locklear stepped through his handcuffs so they were in the front of him and charged aggressively towards the Officer's [sic] standing at the cell door. I applied a burst of pepper spray to the facial area of Inmate Locklear and ordered him to get on the cell floor, which he complied. Officers Davis, Warnick, Weimer, and I entered the cell and gave several direct orders to stand up and exit the cell, which he refused. Locklear was lifted off the cell floor with Officer Davis having his right arm, Officer Warnick had his left arm, Officer Weimer had a hold of his jumper above his shoulders, and I had control of both feet. Inmate Locklear was carried from the wing in a sitting position. Inmate Locklear was taken to the Housing Unit #4 Medical Room where he was treated by M. Klepitch RN for exposure to pepper spray. At the completion of his medical treatment Inmate Locklear was offered and accepted a shower. Inmate Locklear was returned to cell 4-A-8 at the completion of his shower with no further incident.

Id. (emphasis added).

         In his brief unsworn Opposition, Plaintiff contends that the NOIRV was resolved in his favor and that the hearing officer who considered the NOIRV “said it doesn't take that many [correctional officers] to deal with someone and he still had handcuffs on[;] no ma[c]e should have been used.” Pl.'s Opp'n. Plaintiff requests that Defendants be ordered to produce the documentation associated with the NOIRV hearing. Id.

         Plaintiff asserts that the day after the March 9, 2017 incident, he was removed from his cell and placed in another “contensioncy cell/isolation cell[, ] which once again was disgusting housing conditions, ” over a period of four days. Pl.'s Att. 2. Finally, Plaintiff reports that after being separated from his cellmate following the March 9, 2017 incident, he “refuse[d] cell mates for safety purposes ...


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