United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
response to the above-entitled civil rights complaint,
Defendants Stephen T. Moyer, Kathleen Green, Dayena Corcoran,
Patricia Goins-Johnson, Phillip Morgan, Mark J. Carter, Gregg
Hershberger, Walter Holmes, Sergeant Roger Moore, CO II
Christopher Richardson, Hearing Officer Scott Rowe, Officer
Mark Schoenfelder, Stacy A. Huffman, Patricia A. Vale, and
Faye Bergen filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 14. Plaintiff has
responded (ECF No. 18) and Defendants have
replied. ECF No. 20. The Court finds a hearing in
this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For
the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion shall be
construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment and shall be
granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiff's Allegations of Assault and
Robert Lamont Ireland, a former state inmate, alleges that on
October 23, 2014, while confined at the Eastern Correctional
Institution (ECI), he was assaulted without justification by
Officers Carter, Schoenfelder, and Huffman. ECF No. 1 at.
He alleges that Huffman used a chemical agent on him and that
he was denied adequate medical care. Id. After he
complained about the assault, he alleges he was retaliated
against by correctional staff. Id.
verified opposition response, Plaintiff clarifies and
explains his claims. He alleges that Officer Schoenfelder
came on C-tier stating that he smelled smoke, and that he was
tired of smelling smoke on C-tier and in the rec hall.
Plaintiff alleges that Officer Schoenfelder then
intentionally disbursed two bursts of pepper spray onto the
tier and rec hall and began to laugh. ECF 18-1 at 2. Officer
Huffman also allegedly dispensed pepper spray on C-tier and
then ran off laughing. Id. Richardson then called
the control center to have the fans turned on in order to
spread the pepper spray around. Id. Plaintiff began
to choke, gag, and cough as he was exposed to the spray.
Id. He vomited on himself and when he asked
Richardson for assistance, Officer Richardson allegedly
mocked and laughed at him. Id. When Officer Williams
was notified, he arranged for Plaintiff to go to the medical
department at 10:10 p.m., but refused to notify supervisors
or shift commanders of the incident. Id.
states that it took 25-30 minutes to be seen by medical, and
that he was not properly treated or cared for in the medical
department. ECF 18-1 at 2. He claims that he remained in the
medical department because his blood pressure was elevated
but that he was never treated for pepper-spray exposure
because custody staff interfered with his medical treatment
by falsely telling medical staff that he had not been exposed
to pepper spray and that the pepper spray was only
accidentally discharged. ECF 18-1 at 3.
result of the pepper-spray incident, on October 28, 2014,
Plaintiff filed an administrative remedy procedure
(“ARP”) ECI 1849-14 alleging that Schoenfelder
and Huffman intentionally discharged pepper spray on C tier
and that he was denied medical care for pepper spray
exposure. ECF 18-1 at 3; ECF 18-2 at 2-4. The Warden
dismissed the ARP, indicating that there was no documentation
that Schoenfelder and Huffman intentionally discharged the
pepper spray and, to the contrary, documentation showed
Huffman accidently discharged the spray. Id. The
dismissal also noted that Plaintiff had been seen and treated
by medical for secondary exposure to pepper spray. ECF 18-2
filed an appeal to the Commissioner. ECF No. 18-2 at 5. In
the appeal, Plaintiff noted that there were a number of
inmate witnesses who had not been interviewed and also
indicated that Officer Schoenfelder had lied about his name
during the incident. Id. at 6. He also alleged that
Lt. Bergen failed to properly investigate his ARP complaint
by not notifying the Internal Investigation Unit that a
complaint of excessive force had been made against staff,
failing to review the rec hall camera, and failing to
interview witnesses. Id. On February 18, 2015, the
appeal was denied. Id. at 8.
to receiving the Commissioner's denial of his appeal,
Plaintiff filed an appeal, on February 9, 2015, to the Inmate
Grievance Office (“IGO”). ECF No. 18-2 at 9. On
March 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed a second appeal to the IGO.
Id. at 10. On April 7, 2015, the IGO dismissed the
grievance, finding it lacking in merit. Id. at 22.
On May 15, 2015, the IGO declined to reconsider the dismissal
of Plaintiff's grievance. Id. at 23.
allegations were ultimately forwarded to the Department of
Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS)-Intelligence
Investigative Division (IID) for investigation. ECF No. 18-3
at 4. IID determined that Plaintiff's allegations did not
meet the requirements for investigation by their office.
Id. at 6.
alleges that when staff became aware of the ARP, he was
“continuously bombarded with fabricated/false
/reprisals by ECI staff officials and supervisory staff until
[he was transferred in February or March of 2015].” ECF
18-1 at 3.
example of the retaliation, Plaintiff explains that on
December 12, 2014, Schoenfelder wrote a false disciplinary
report against him and on January 8, 2015, after a hearing
before Hearing Officer Rowe, he was placed on disciplinary
segregation for 180 days. Id. at 3-4. He also lost
diminution of confinement credits as well as telephone and
visitation privileges. Id. Plaintiff's appeal of
the disciplinary decision was denied by the Warden.
Id. at 4. Plaintiff was scheduled for a parole
hearing on May 4, 2015 but was denied parole due to the
number of inmate rule infractions he had recently received.
ECF 18-1 at 5; ECF 18-4 at 6.
on May 21, 2015, Patricia Goins-Johnson, Executive Director
of Field Support for DPSCS, sent a Memorandum to Warden
Phillip Morgan at the Maryland Correctional Training Center
(MCTC), where Plaintiff was then housed. ECF 18-4 at 2. The
memo vacated Plaintiff's conviction and sanctions and
ordered a new hearing in front of a new Hearing Officer.
Id. The memo explained that on December 12, 2014,
Plaintiff was charged by Schoenfelder with violating rules
100 (engage in disruptive act), 104 (use intimidating,
coercive, or threatening language), and 405 (disrespect or
vulgar language). Id. A hearing was held before
Hearing Officer Rowe on January 8, 2015, and Plaintiff was
found guilty of violating rules 104 and 405. Id. At
the hearing, Plaintiff submitted evidence that he contacted
the Somerset County State's Attorney's Office
regarding his claim that Schoenfelder had used excessive
force against him on October 23, 2014, in the pepper spray
incident which was forwarded to IID and then to the Warden at
ECI. Id. Plaintiff alleged that when Schoenfelder
became aware of these complaints, he engaged in a course of
harassment toward Plaintiff. Id. Rowe advised
Plaintiff that he would only consider evidence regarding the
date of the alleged rule infraction. Id.
Additionally, Plaintiff timely requested inmate Anthony Webb
and Lt. Bergen appear as witnesses as they were aware of
instances of retaliation and harassment by Schoenfelder.
Id. Hearing Officer Rowe did not allow the witnesses
to testify because they were not witnesses to the events
giving rise to the rule infraction. Id. In
concluding the vacatur of the conviction and sanctions was
proper, the memo concluded that Plaintiff's proposed
defense and witness testimony should have been considered.
ECF No. 18-4 at 3.
22, 2015, Plaintiff's remand hearing was held before
Hearing Officer Sipes and he was found not guilty of all rule
violations. ECF 18-1 at 5. The written explanation of the
The HO finds the testimony of Ireland persuasive. HO reviewed
the letter written to the states attorney a month prior to
the infraction being written. There was supervisory staff
that was aware of the harassment taking place. HO finds it
likely there was retaliation and harassment taking place by
the reporting CO. HO finds inmate not guilty of rules
ECF 18-4 at 4.
filed ARP MCTC-0687-15 on June 22, 2015, detailing alleged
misconduct by Schoenfelder. ECF 18-1 at 5; ECF 18-4 at 8. The
ARP was dismissed with an indication that the matters alleged
were being investigated by the IID. ECF 18-4 at 8.
dispute Plaintiff's account of the pepper spray incident
and the subsequent allegations of retaliation. On October 23,
2014, Kathleen Green was the Warden of ECI and Officers
Huffman, Richardson, Schoenfelder, and Williams were assigned
to Housing Unit 3 at ECI. ECF No. 14-3, ¶ 1 (Huffman
Decl.); ECF No. 14-4, ¶ 1 (Richardson Decl.); ECF No.
14-5, ¶ 1 (Schoenfelder Decl.); ECF No. 14-6, ¶ 1
(Williams Decl.); ECF No. 14-8. ¶ 1. Defendants claim
that at approximately 9:50 p.m., as Huffman approached the
bathroom door in Housing Unit 3 to unlock the door, she
dropped her keys. ECF 14-3, ¶ 3. As she bent down to
pick up the key her arm pushed the trigger of her “MK-9
pepper spray unit and dispersed approximately 1-2 seconds of
spray.” Id. The unit was missing its pin which
prevented accidental discharges. Id. She had been
previously instructed not to replace the pin with a makeshift
pin. ECF 14-3 at 3 (Huffman Matter of Record prepared in
response to Plaintiff's ARP). Huffman reported the
incident and she and Schoenfelder cleaned up the spray. ECF
14-3, ¶ 3; ECF 14-5 at 3 (Schoenfelder Matter of Record
prepared in response to Plaintiff's ARP); ECF 14-6 at 3
(Williams Matter of Record prepared in response to
of the cleaning process, the front door was opened, and the
fan turned on to clear the spray. ECF 14-6 at 3. Huffman then
made rounds on the tier to make sure none of the inmates were
affected by the smell of the pepper spray. ECF 14-3, ¶
3. Williams also reported to C-tier and called the medical
department to report that there had been an accidental
discharge of pepper spray and two inmates needed to be seen.
ECF 14-6, p. 3. Inmates who reported they smelled the spray
were sent ...