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Clark v. Gelsinger

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 18, 2019

HAMMEL J. CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
DENISE GELSINGER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          THEODORE D. CHUANG, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Hammel J. Clark, a prisoner incarcerated at the Jessup Correctional Institution (“JCI') in Jessup, Maryland, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Warden Richard J. Graham, Jr., former Assistant Warden Denise Gelsinger, Lt. Larry C. Bennett, Sgt. Jason A. Daddysman, Sgt. Thomas C. Menges, and Correctional Officer (“C.O.”) II Alicia A. Cartwright. Clark alleged that while he was incarcerated at the Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”), (1) Daddysman wrongfully took a religious headpiece from him and verbally and physically assaulted him as part of a pattern of harassment; (2) Clark was removed from the “honor building” and placed in a cell covered in human feces in retaliation for asserting complaints; and (3) his due process rights were violated when his administrative complaints about Daddysman and the headpiece's confiscation were mishandled and denied. Defendants previously a filed Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (“the First Motion”), which the Court granted in part and denied in part. See Clark v. Daddysman (“Clark I”), No. TDC-16-0921, 2018 WL 1453333 (D. Md. Mar. 22, 2018), appeal dismissed sub nom. Clark v. Gelsinger, 738 Fed.Appx. 244 (4th Cir. 2018). Assistant Warden Gelsinger is the only remaining Defendant. The two remaining claims are that Clark was placed in a feces-covered cell for two weeks in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and that his placement in that cell was in retaliation for filing complaints against Gelsinger, in violation of the First Amendment.

         Although the Court directed Gelsinger to file an Answer to these claims, Gelsinger instead filed a “Supplemental Factual Memorandum in Support of Defendant Denise Gelsinger's Motion for Summary Judgment, ” construed as a renewed Motion for Summary Judgment (“the Second Motion”), which provides additional factual background but no new argument. Clark has responded. Having reviewed the Complaint and submitted materials, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion will be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court has set forth the factual background of this case in its Memorandum Opinion of March 22, 2018, which is incorporated by reference. On the remaining issue of Clark's cell assignment, at the time of the First Motion, the record reflected that immediately following his March 16, 2016 encounter with Daddysman:

Clark returned to his cell, where he learned that he was being moved out of the “honor building” and into a cell in Housing Unit No. 3, which he considered the worst unit in the prison. Clark alleges that this new cell had human feces and urine spread around in different spots, left behind by an inmate known to put his own feces all over his cell. When Clark refused to go into the filthy cell, the correctional officers threatened to place him in lock up. Clark asked to be put in one of the clean empty cells nearby, but that request was denied. According to Clark, he spent several days cleaning up the cell, feces got on his shoes, his wheelchair, and his hands, and the cell reeked of human waste even after the cleaning, so that he felt sick and could not eat. When he complained to Assistant Warden Denise Gelsinger about the conditions and Sgt. Daddysman's actions, she smiled and said, “Everybody gets a turn.” ARP WCI-756-16 at 25, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 31, ECF No. 39-34. She also asked him, “Did you ever stop to think it's just you?” Compl. at 27, ECF No. 4. Clark remained in that cell for 14 days before he was returned to his original cell. Clark asked multiple correctional officers if they knew who had ordered his transfer to another cell. One officer, Lt. McKenzie, told him:
“[I]t came from high up.” ARP WCI-756-16 at 26. Clark alleges that he was placed there in retaliation for standing up to Daddysman and for writing up complaints about Gelsinger in the past.

Clark I, 2018 WL 1453333, at *2.

         Clark asserted that Gelsinger was responsible for the retaliatory cell transfer because he had written several complaints about her, including one as recently as December 14, 2015. Id. at *5. In response, Defendants submitted the declaration of Lt. Robert Carder, who stated that Clark was moved to a new cell on March 15, 2016 due to institutional needs and denied that the cell was covered in feces or that Clark ever complained about its condition to correctional officers in charge of the housing unit. He further asserted that Clark was provided with ample cleaning supplies when he was moved to the new cell. Based on these facts, the Court denied summary judgment in favor of Gelsinger.

         In the Second Motion, Gelsinger has submitted a declaration in which she denies that she was involved in the decision to move Clark to another cell on March 15, 2016. She asserts that at the relevant time, decisions regarding inmate housing assignments were made by the Housing Unit Manager or Officer in Charge, not the Assistant Warden. According to Gelsinger, on an unspecified day after March 15, 2016, she spoke to Clark, who complained about Daddysman and his move to Housing Unit 3. She states that Clark did not tell her that his cell contained feces. Gelsinger advised Clark that he did not have a right to any specific housing and he could be moved any time in order to accommodate the needs of the institution. She does not recall telling Clark that “Everyone gets a turn.” Gelsinger Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 82-2. She acknowledges making the statement “Did you ever stop to think it's just you, ” or words to that effect, but explains that she meant that Clark was paranoid and reading more into the situation than was warranted, and that the move was simply routine. Id. Gelsinger acknowledges that she knew Clark from when she worked at Roxbury Correctional Institution (“RCI”) and recalls a complaint he asserted relating to his legal mail at RCI, but she stated that she does not recall any Administrative Remedy Procedure complaints (“ARPs”) filed by Clark against her at RCI. According to Clark, while at RCI, Gelsinger stopped his legal mail from being sent out and then had him transferred to WCI.

         Gelsinger has also submitted another declaration by Carder, who states that on March 15, 2016, Clark was moved from Housing Unit 1 to Housing Unit 3 to free up a wheelchair-accessible cell in Housing Unit 1 for inmate Jerome Miller, who needed to be temporarily housed in Housing Unit 1. According to Carder, at that time, the only available wheelchair-accessible cell into which Clark could be place was the cell vacated by Miller in Housing Unit 3. On March 28, 2016, when Miller no longer needed to be housed in Housing Unit 1, Clark was returned to his former cell. Clark, however, maintains that other wheelchair-accessible cells were available during this time.

         Carder denies that Clark reported that the cell in Housing Unit 3 contained feces. According to Carder, if Clark had reported that the cell contained feces, a specially trained blood-spill team would have disinfected and cleaned the cell. Instead, as a matter of routine, Clark was provided unspecified cleaning supplies upon his transfer to the new cell.

         In his own affidavit, Clark asserts that the cell smelled of feces and urine, and that as a result of being housed in the cell, he became ill and was unable to hold food down. Clark has submitted a sick call slip, dated April 3, 2016, in which he reported the ...


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