United States District Court, D. Maryland
LARNELL A. DIXON, Plaintiff
WARDEN RICHARD GRAHAM, Defendant
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
brought this civil rights action against Defendant Warden
Richard Graham. ECF No. 1. Pending before the Court is
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 19. The Court advised
Plaintiff of his opportunity to oppose the motion, ECF No.
20, and Plaintiff sought and was granted extensions of time
to do so. ECF Nos. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, & 26. However,
Plaintiff has failed to file an opposition. The Court finds a
hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule
105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion,
construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be granted.
unverified Complaint, Plaintiff Larnell A. Dixon, a state
inmate confined at the Western Correctional Institution (WCI)
alleges that on May 30, 2017, Warden Graham ordered the
windows in his housing unit, Housing Unit 4, to be sealed
shut. ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff remained housed in a cell
with a sealed window until June 15, 2017 when he was moved to
a cell with a window that opens. Id. at 3. As
background, Plaintiff explains that the windows in housing
unit 4 were sealed from 2013 until the second week of May
2017 when they were unsealed before an audit team came to
inspect the prison. Id. Plaintiff states that from
2013 to 2017, many inmates complained about the sealing of
the windows, but nothing was done. Id. Apparently
after the audit, the windows were resealed. Plaintiff
maintains that having the windows sealed is a fire and health
hazard. Id. at 3.
claims that the guards grew tired of the inmates'
complaints about the windows and on May 30, 2017, forced the
inmates out of their cells and sprayed some of the inmates,
though not Plaintiff, with mace and “pellets.”
ECF No. 1 at 3. Plaintiff claims he was affected by the fumes
and requested medical treatment but his request was denied.
admits that he did not file any administrative remedy
procedures (ARPs) regarding these matters. Id. at 2.
He claims that he failed to do so because the WCI handbook
states that inmates cannot file ARPs about the Warden.
January 17, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to Housing Unit
4, cell A-6 where he continued to be housed until June 15,
2017, when he was reassigned to cell A-18. ECF No. 19-2 at 2.
Housing Unit 4 is the segregation unit and houses inmates on
various levels of segregation status, including disciplinary
segregation. ECF No. 19-3 ¶ 3. The windows in cells 1-14
and 25- 38 of Housing Unit 4 are sealed due to safety and
security concerns. Id. Those cells face the compound
which allows segregation inmates to see the general
population inmates during times of movement. Id.
When the windows were unsealed, inmates in these cells acted
disruptively during mass movement, including using vulgar and
threatening language and passing along information regarding
the flow of contraband to the general population.
Id. This conduct created safety and security risks
and as such, the windows were sealed. Id.
who had documented medical conditions that required them to
have the ability to open their window were not housed in a
cell with a sealed window. ECF No. 19-3 ¶ 5. Plaintiff
did not have such a documented condition. ECF No. 19-5.
the windows are sealed, the cells are properly ventilated.
ECF No. 19-3 ¶ 4. Moreover, the air circulation system
at WCI meets Maryland compliance standards, and the cells
have ventilation systems that circulate clean and filtered
air four times per hour. Id. ¶¶ 4-5.
the events of May 30, 2017, Defendant explains that a cell
extraction occurred on Housing Unit 4, A wing, on that date,
due to inmates' refusing to comply with correctional
officers' orders. ECF No. 19-2 at 6. Officers used pepper
spray and a pepper ball gun to gain the compliance of the
inmates. Id. Ultimately, seven inmates were
extracted from their cells, one of whom was in possession of
a homemade weapon. Id. Additionally, officers
searched the cells on the wing, including Plaintiff's
cell, and a homemade weapon was recovered in a cell near
Plaintiff's. Id. All of the inmates involved in
the use of force received medical attention and were
permitted to shower before returning to their cells.
Id. at 7. Plaintiff was not listed among the use of
force reports as an inmate involved in the incident.
Id. at 4-5.
the time Plaintiff was housed on Housing Unit 4, the
Warden's office received three letters from Plaintiff,
none of which concerned the sealed windows or ventilation.
ECF No. 19-4 ¶ 4. Additionally, while housed at WCI,
Plaintiff filed two ARPs to the Warden. ECF No. 19-6 ¶
3. Neither involved Plaintiff's window being sealed or
Plaintiff experiencing any health problems due to the window
being sealed. Id.
styles his motion as a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. When deciding a
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), the Court considers only the facts in the complaint
or “integral to the complaint.” Sec'y of
State for Defense v. Trimble Navigation Ltd., 484 F.3d
700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007). However, Rule 12(d) requires courts
to treat a motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment
when the court considers matter outside the pleadings.
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.
Consistent with this rule, the nonmoving party must have some
indication that the court will treat the motion to dismiss as
a motion for summary judgment and “must be afforded a
reasonable opportunity for discovery” if it is
essential to the nonmoving party's ability to oppose the
motion. Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir.
1985) (citation omitted).
obvious when the moving party styles its motion as a
“Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment, ” as is the case here, that the Court
may treat the motion as one for summary judgment. See
Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.2d
253, 260-61 (4th Cir.1998). 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 Internet Domain
Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244-45 (4th Cir. 2002). ...