United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. BREDAR, CHIEF JUDGE
is Maryland inmate Avery Reil's pro se Complaint filed
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was
denied access to the courts. Defendants, Michael Muir,
Facility Manager, and Cathy Grant, Case Manager, have filed a
Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 10. Reil filed a Motion to Deny Summary
Judgment or Deny the Motion to Dismiss, with his declaration
(ECF No. 13 at 3), and subsequently filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment and a Motion for a Jury Trial. ECF No. 14,
18. Defendants filed an opposition to Reil's Motion for
Summary Judgment. ECF No. 15.
considering the submissions, the Court finds a hearing is
unnecessary to resolve the issues. See Loc. R. 105.6
(D. Md. 2018). For reasons to follow Defendants' Motion
will be treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment and granted.
Reil's Motion to Deny Summary Judgment or Deny Motion to
Dismiss, Motion for Summary Judgment, and Motion for a Jury
Trial will be denied.
was incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Institution in
Westover, Maryland, at the time he filed this Complaint on
July 20, 2018. He has been transferred since to another
facility. ECF No. 17. His allegations are based on incidents
that occurred at ECI.
Complaint, he alleges that he is indigent and unable to pay
for postage for mail, and that certified mail he sent on
March 6, 2018, was returned to him on March 9, 2018, with a
note that read, "you do not have enough money in your
account to mail out the certifieds [sic]: non-sufficient
funds." Compl. ECF No. 1 at 3. Reil states he then wrote
to his case manager, John Codd, to obtain "additional
postage for my legal mail as DCD 250-1 says to do."
Id. Reil states Codd never answered his letter. When
Reil spoke to Codd on May 2, 2019, Codd informed him that he
"knew nothing about this rule." Id. That
same day, Reil sent an informal complaint to the head case
manager, Ms. Grant, and asked her how to have his legal mail
approved for postage.
alleges that he has had mail sent back to him "several
times" for insufficient postage. Id. He does
not explain the nature of these items or when they were
returned. Rather, he invites the Court to look at the ECI
mail log, which is not in the record Id.
filed Administrative Remedy Procedure (ARP) request
ECI-A-0063-18 about his concerns. He received a response that
informed him he did not qualify for postage for certified
mail, but he could be approved for first class postage for
his legal mail. Reil claims the delay in providing postage to
him has required that he sell his food to obtain funds to
timely send his legal mail and amounts to cruel and unusual
punishment Id. Reil seeks damages and asks for
injunctive relief to have the Division of Correction enforce
its own mail policies and to retrain case management staff
regarding these policies. Id.
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates,
through "particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ...,
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,"
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), (c)(1)(A); see Baldwin v.
City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013).
If the party seeking summary judgment demonstrates that there
is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the
burden shifts to the nonmoving party to identify evidence
that shows a genuine dispute exists as to material facts.
See Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S.317 (1986). The
existence of only a "scintilla of evidence" is not
enough to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.242, 251-52 (1986).
Instead, the evidentiary materials submitted must show facts
from which the finder of fact reasonably could find for the
party opposing summary judgment. Id.
initial burden is met, the opposing party may not rest on the
mere allegations in the complaint. Id. at 247-48.
The opposing party "must come forward with specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, summary judgment is appropriate.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49.
argued existence of a factual dispute does not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion. Id. "If
the evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly
probative," summary judgment is appropriate.
Id. at 249-50 (citations omitted). "When
opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is
blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable
jury could believe it, a court should not adopt [the moving
party's] version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a
motion for summary judgment." Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). On a motion for summary judgment,
the court considers the facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party, drawing all justifiable inferences in
his favor. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 585-86
the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment,
the court must "review each motion separately on its own
merits to 'determine whether either of the parties
deserves judgment as a matter of law.' Rossignol v.
Voorhaar, 316 F.3d 516, 523 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Philip Morris Inc. v. Harshbarger, 122 F.3d 58, 62
n.4 (1st Cir. 1997)). Moreover, "[w]hen considering each
individual motion, the court must take care to 'resolve
all factual disputes and any competing, rational inferences
in the light most favorable' to the party opposing that
motion." Id. (quoting Wightman v.
Springfield Terminal Ry. Co., 100 F.3d 228, 230 (1st
Cir. 1996)). A court must, however, also abide by its
affirmative obligation to prevent factually unsupported
claims and defenses from going to trial. Drewitt v.
Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993).
argue that they are entitled to dismissal or summary judgment
on several grounds including: failure to exhaust
administrative remedies; failure to state a constitutional
claim; respondeat superior; and qualified immunity. In
support of their dispositive motion, Defendants have filed
verified exhibits and declarations. Reil's cross-motion
for summary judgment argues without supporting details that
there is no genuine dispute of material fact at issue and
that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to their
own policies and rules in violation of his right to due
process and access to the courts. ECF No. 14 at 1.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies.
argue that Reil did not properly present his claims through
the ARP process before filing this lawsuit; therefore, the
claims must be dismissed pursuant to the Prison Litigation
Reform Act ("PLRA"), 42 ...