United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants Frank B. Bishop,
Jr., Warden of North Branch Correctional Institution
(“NBCI”) (“Warden Bishop”); J.
Michael Zeigler, Deputy Secretary of Operations for the
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
(“DPSCS”); Wendell M. France, Deputy Secretary of
Operations for DPSCS; C.O. II Jeremy W. Wolford, and C.O. II
James A. Strope's Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17). The
Motion is ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6. (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons
outlined below, the Court will grant in part and deny without
prejudice in part Defendants' Motion.
March 19, 2017, at around 9:12 a.m., Plaintiff John Earl
Artis, an inmate currently incarcerated at NBCI in
Cumberland, Maryland was involved in a physical altercation
with another prisoner. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 7, ECF No. 1;
Supp. at 2, ECF No. 5).Wolford and Strope responded to the
incident and “dispersed a canister of chemical
agents.” (Comp. ¶ 8). Upon being sprayed, Artis
retreated from the altercation. (Id. ¶ 9).
Artis attempted to comply with orders by holding out his
hands to be hand-cuffed, but Wolford and Strope continued to
spray him with chemicals while “striking him in the
face, body[, ] and head.” (Id. ¶ 10). At
some point in time, Artis ended up on the ground. (See
Id. at 12). While Artis was on the ground and
“immobilized” and “incapacitated” by
the chemical agent, Wolford and Strope began “striking
him in the face” and “applying closed[-]fist
punches to his head and body.” (Id. ¶
12). Wolford and Strope then proceeded to “kick[
]” Artis's “body and facial area” and
employ “elbow strikes” to Artis's head and
face. (Id. ¶ 13; Supp. at 2). Artis
“sustained a black eye, ” swelling and abrasions
to his face, head, cheekbone and forehead, injuries to his
knee, shin bone, and fibula, and several bruises on his body.
(Compl. ¶¶ 14-15).
told Wolford and Strope that his skin was
“burning” and requested medical treatment for his
injuries, which was denied. (Id. ¶¶
16-17). Artis was then transferred to NBCI's disciplinary
segregation unit and was denied a change of clothing.
(Id. ¶¶ 16, 19). Artis was also denied
decontamination liquids to flush his eyes, face, and skin, as
well as a check of his vital signs to ensure that the
chemical spray had no adverse effects. (Id.
¶¶ 18, 20-21). “Since the incident, Artis
continues to experience sever[e] headaches, dizz[i]ness,
pain, and vomiting.” (Id. ¶ 29).
to the incident, Artis complained to Warden Bishop about
corrections officers, including Wolford, threatening,
harassing, and making derogatory comments towards Artis.
(Id. ¶ 22). Warden Bishop “failed to
investigate” Artis's complaints and “failed
to discipline or restrain” the corrections officers.
(Id. ¶¶ 22-23). He also was aware of
Artis's complaints, but “did nothing other than
provide tacit support to [his] subordinates by justifying
their unlawful actions.” (Id. ¶ 28).
Specifically with regard to Wolford, Warden Bishop
“maliciously and intentionally allowed [his] actions to
go unchecked.” (Id. ¶ 25).
the incident, Lt. Thomas Sawyers (“Lt. Sawyers”)
conducted a use of force investigation and detailed his
findings in a report (the “UOF Report”).
(Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Alt. Summ. J. [“Defs.'
Mot.”] Ex. 1 [“UOF Rep.”], ECF No. 17-4).
The UOF Report reflects that on March 19, 2017, an incident
occurred involving Artis and two other inmates, Dashawn
Peterkin and Bobby Arnold. (UOF Rep. at 3). According to the
UOF Report, Peterkin chased Arnold from the housing unit to
the lobby, striking him with closed-fist punches.
(Id.). A corrections officer managed to restrain
Peterkin while Arnold retreated into the housing unit.
then ran from the housing unit, across the lobby, and into
the corridor in an attempt to assault Arnold. (Id.).
Wolford and Strope met Artis in the corridor, positioned
themselves in between Arnold and Artis, and gave Artis orders
to get on the floor. (Id.). According to UOF Report,
Artis continued charging toward Arnold despite Wolford and
Strope's orders. (Id.). Wolford then deployed
pepper spray on Artis, but Artis continued refusing
corrections officers' orders, so Wolford and Strope took
him to the floor. (Id.). Wolford and Strope again
gave Artis orders to place his hands behind his back, but
Artis continued to struggle, attempting to get back up from
the floor. (Id.). At that point, “Wolford
applied elbow strikes to Inmate Artis'[s] head and
shoulder areas” in an effort to get him to comply.
(Id.). Wolford and Strope were then able to handcuff
Artis and escort him “to the HU2 Medical Room to await
medical treatment.” (Id.). NBCI's video
surveillance system captured footage of the incident,
(id.), but the lobby area where Wolford and Strope
allegedly assaulted Artis is not visible from any of the
cameras, (see Defs.' Mot. Ex. 6, ECF Nos. 17-9,
Lt. Sawyers concluded that the level of force the corrections
officers, including Wolford and Strope, used was
“appropriate and consistent with all applicable
policies and the DPSCS Use of Force Manual.” (UOF Rep.
to the UOF Report, Marilyn Evans, R.N., (“Nurse
Evans”) treated Artis, Peterkin, and Arnold for pepper
spray exposure. (Id.). In a medical report dated
March 19, 2017, Nurse Evans noted that Artis complained of
pain on his “face and head” and “getting
kicked in [the] head.” (Id. at 27). Nurse
Evans also noted slight bruising on the right eye, a
two-centimeter superficial laceration on the left lower
eyelid, and redness on the right parietal region of the head.
(Id.). She stated that Artis “[r]efused to
open eyes, ” and therefore, she was unable to check his
pupils. (Id.). She did not note whether Artis
complained of the effects of the pepper spray or whether
Artis was treated for its effects.(See id.). Nurse
Evans cleaned Artis's laceration with saline and
recommended a shower and cold compresses to the head.
March 27, 2017, after Artis filed a grievance through the
Administrative Remedy Procedure, Sgt. Robert Fagan
(“Sgt. Fagan”) of the Intelligence and
Investigative Division began another investigation of the
incident. (Defs.' Mot. Ex. 5 at 1-2, ECF No. 17-8). On
March 30, 2017, Sgt. Fagan interviewed Artis and Peterkin.
(Id. at 10). At that time, Artis stated that he was
sprayed with pepper spray while lying on his stomach, that he
was not resisting, and that he was trying to hold his arms to
allow officers to handcuff him. (Id.). Artis also
stated that the officers were holding his arms while
punching, kicking, and elbowing him to the back of his head.
(Id.). Likewise, Peterkin stated that he saw
officers jump on Artis and “kick and punch him.”
(Id.). According to Peterkin, the “staff went
overboard, ” there were about seven to ten officers
present, and “Artis was already on the ground and the
Officers were yelling that he was resisting but he
April 26, 2017, Sgt. Fagan obtained the video footage of the
incident. (Id.). He noted that although the video
showed Artis running toward Arnold, it did not show Wolford
and Strope restraining Artis. (Id.).
November 20, 2017, Sgt. Fagan interviewed Wolford and Strope.
(Id. at 10-11). Wolford stated that the pepper spray
seemed to have no effect on Artis and that Artis continued to
resist after the officers brought him to the ground.
(Id. at 10). Wolford also stated that he delivered
elbow strikes to Artis in an effort to get him to comply
until additional staff arrived. (Id.). Similarly,
Strope stated that Artis continued to struggle after he was
brought to the ground, and that Wolford applied elbow strikes
to Artis's head and shoulders to get him to comply.
(Id. at 11). Wolford and Strope both stated that
they did not witness anyone kicking Artis. (Id.).
conclusion of the investigation, Sgt. Fagan noted that
although both Artis and Peterkin reported that corrections
officers kicked Artis, Nurse Evans' medical report did
not support that level of force. (Id.). As a result,
Sgt. Fagan concluded that there was no evidence to show that
staff used unreasonable force to control Artis.
August 22, 2017, while Sgt. Fagan was still conducting his
investigation, Artis sued Warden Bishop, Zeigler, France,
Wolford, and Strope. (ECF No. 1). In his
six-countVerified Complaint, Artis alleges:
excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution (Count I); deliberate indifference to
serious medical need in violation of the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (Count II);
violations of Articles 24 and 26 to the Maryland Constitution
(Count III); negligence (Count IV); failure to properly train
or supervise in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution (Count V); and emotional distress (Count
VI). (Compl. at 9-15). Artis seeks money damages, injunctive
relief, a transfer to a different prison, and costs.
(Id. at 16-17; Supp. at 4).
18, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 17). Artis
filed an Opposition on June 1, 2018. (ECF Nos. 22,
To date, the Court has no record that Defendants filed a