United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. Hazel United States District Judge.
Donte Brown, an inmate incarcerated at Roxbury Correctional
Institution, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, seeking monetary damages and other
miscellaneous relief from Warden, Baltimore City Booking and
Intake Center (“BCBIC”), and Defendant
Correctional Sergeant Wayne Murray (“CS Murray”).
ECF Nos. 1, 3, & 24. Presently pending before the Court
is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative,
for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 19, Plaintiff's Motion for
Discovery, ECF No. 30, and Plaintiff's Motion for
Extension of Time, ECF No. 31. Although Plaintiff's
counsel sought and was granted an opportunity to respond to
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss by November 15, 2018, he
has neither opposed the motion nor sought additional time in
which to do so. ECF Nos. 39 & 40. No. hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
that follow, Defendant's unopposed Motion, ECF No. 19,
construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is
granted-in-part and denied-in-part, and Plaintiff's
Motions are denied as moot.
alleges that on August 10, 2017, CS Murray was called to
Brown's holding cell when Brown requested medical
attention due to pneumonia-like symptoms. ECF Nos. 21 &
24 ¶ 8. Brown claims that, after his repeated requests
for medical attention, CS Murray ordered a female officer
“to call a code.” ECF No. 24 ¶ 8. Brown
alleges that he saw “numerous officers coming, ”
dropped his charging papers to prepare for “what they
where [sic] going to do, ” and heard CS Murray say,
“Fuck his ass up.” Id. ¶ 9. Brown
alleges that CS Murray then sprayed mace in Brown's face
for about thirty seconds. Id. CS Murray admits that
he pepper sprayed Brown, but disputes Plaintiff's
recollection of the incident, instead stating that he used
the pepper spray on Brown when “Plaintiff made a
threatening gesture to Sgt. Murray, as if he intended to
throw a punch.” ECF No. 19-1 at 3; ECF No. 19-2 ¶
further alleges that, after “losing [his] sight,
” he “felt numerous punches to the face and head
coming from everywhere.” ECF No. 24 ¶ 10.
Plaintiff claims that he “ran back in the direction of
the Hall [cameras], ” in an effort to escape the
alleged beating that occurred “out of sight of the
[camera].” Id. He asserts that when officers
ordered him to get on the ground, he complied, and then
“was kick[e]d and stomp[ed] in the face knocking [his]
teeth out by unknown officers.” Id. ¶ 11.
Brown states that he heard CS Murray order the officers to
take him to the “medical middle bull pen where the
[camera] can't see.” Id. He alleges that
the escorting officers continued to hit him in the face with
“punches, foggers and keys.” Id. Once in
the “medical middle bull pen” and handcuffed
“to the back, ” Brown alleges that three officers
came in and punched him in the face, followed by three
additional officers who beat his body and face in the corner
of the bull pen. Id. ¶ 12.
contends that BCBIC's head doctor told the staff that
Brown needed to go to the emergency room, and that a
lieutenant, captain, and major took photographs of his face
and body. Id. ¶ 13. Brown was then escorted to
the University of Maryland Medical Center
(“UMMC”) for x-ray and cat scans. Id. He
was released later that night and sent back to BCBIC,
allegedly sustaining “2 black eye[s], double vision in
[his] left eye when [he] look[s] down or up, depressed right
nasal bone fracture, missing tooth and a busted lip.”
Id. ¶ 14. The UMMC records submitted by Brown
reflect a finding of “blunt trauma, right eye”
and “atrophic holes, left eye, ” with the left
eye condition possibly “related to previous
trauma” based on his “past medical history of
[c]losed blow-out fracture of left orbit.” ECF No. 26-1
claims that he exhausted his administrative and legal
remedies by submitting numerous Inmate Grievance Forms, to
which he never got a response. ECF No. 24 ¶¶ 15,
16. It is undisputed that CS Murray issued Brown five notices
of infraction following the incident. Id. ¶ 18;
ECF No. 19-2, Murray Declaration, ¶ 4.
filed the instant Motion on August 6, 2018. ECF No. 19.
Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint three days later, on
August 9, 2018. ECF No. 24. To avoid elevating form over
substance, the Court will apply the arguments raised in
Defendant's Motion to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.
In his Amended Complaint, Brown alleges excessive force by CS
Murray and violations of his First and Eighth Amendment
rights. ECF No. 24 ¶¶ 21, 22. He seeks declaratory
and injunctive relief, compensatory damages in the amount of
$2, 000, 000, and punitive damages in the amount of $2, 000,
000. Id. ¶¶ 24-31.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
styles his motion as a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Defendant has filed a DVD,
a declaration, and the Maryland Department of Public Safety
and Correctional Services “Use of Force Procedures
Manual.” ECF Nos. 19, 19-2, 19-3, 19-4. If the Court
considers matters outside the pleadings, as the Court does
here, the Court must treat a motion to dismiss as one for
summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the Court treats a
motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment,
“[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity
to present all the material that is pertinent to the
motion.” Id. When the moving party styles its
motion as a “Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative,
for Summary Judgment, ” as is the case here, and
attaches additional materials to its motion, the non-moving
party is, of course, aware that materials outside the
pleadings are before the Court, and the Court can treat the
motion as one for summary judgment. See Laughlin v.
Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61
(4th Cir. 1998). Further, the Court is not prohibited from
granting a motion for summary judgment before the
commencement of discovery. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a)
(stating that the court “shall grant summary judgment
if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact” without distinguishing pre- or post-
judgment is appropriate if “materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
…, admissions, interrogatory answers, or other
materials, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), show that there is
“no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party moving for
summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that no
genuine dispute exists as to material facts. Pulliam Inv.
Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir.
1987). If the moving party demonstrates that there is no
evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the
burden shifts to the nonmoving party to identify specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.
See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. A material fact is
one that “might affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law.” Spriggs v. Diamond Auto
Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). A dispute of material fact is only
“genuine” if sufficient evidence favoring the
nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to return a
verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
However, the nonmoving party “cannot create a genuine
issue of material fact through mere speculation or the
building of one inference upon another.” Beale v.
Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). When ruling on
a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed; and all justiciable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255.
Court is mindful that Brown was initially a pro se
litigant, and a federal court must liberally construe pro
se pleadings to allow the development of potentially
meritorious cases. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972).
Liberal construction does not mean, however, that this Court
can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts
sufficient to state a claim. See Weller v. Department of
Social Services, 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). A
court cannot assume a genuine issue of material fact where
none exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The Court also notes that
Plaintiff eventually retained counsel, who was granted an
opportunity to respond to Defendant's Motion, but did not
do so. ECF Nos. 35, 39, 40.
alleges excessive force and denial of medical care under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and violations of his First and Eighth
Amendment rights. Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 authorizes a
plaintiff to bring a suit for damages against any individual
whom “under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State … subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States