United States District Court, D. Maryland
MR. JAMES M. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
A. CONNER, CO II, Defendant.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Officer Amy Conner, a correctional officer at North Branch
Correctional Institution (NBCI), filed a motion to dismiss or
for summary judgment in response to this civil rights
complaint filed by Plaintiff James M. Williams. ECF No. 17.
Mr. Williams opposes the motion. ECF No. 20. No. hearing is
deemed necessary for determination of the pending matters.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md 2018). For the reasons
that follow, Defendant's motion, construed as a motion to
dismiss will be granted.
Williams, an inmate confined to NBCI, complains that on
January 14, 2018, Officer Conner moved him into a housing
unit cell with another inmate where he should not have been
placed. ECF No. 1 at p. 2. When he explained this to Officer
Conner, she advised Mr. Williams to spend one night there and
she would address the matter the following morning.
Id. The following morning, Mr. Williams was removed
from his cell by Officers Conner and S. Keel, who placed him
into a holding cell. Id. Mr. Williams asked the two
officers to secure his personal property left in the cell so
that his cellmate would not steal it. Id. The
request was not honored; rather, Officer Conner had Mr.
Williams' property packed-up by his cellmate without Mr.
Williams being present. Id.
Officer Conner later began an inventory of Mr. Williams's
property in his presence he noticed that several items of his
property including an X-box, food, and games, were missing.
ECF No. 1 at p. 2. When Mr. Williams told Officer Conner his
property was missing he claims that she said that she was not
going back to his cell to see if anything was stolen because
Mr. Williams had “already fucked-up the holiday
weekend.” Id. Mr. Williams states that there
were two other officers present during the inventory of his
property who expressed to him that Officer Conner was wrong
for the way she packed his property and for refusing to
investigate whether it was stolen. Id. at p. 3. The
two officers Mr. Williams spoke to, whose names he does not
provide because their signatures are illegible (see
id. at p. 4), further advised that they would
investigate the matter, but only after Officer Conner left
the area because she told them not to do so. Id. at
p. 3. As relief Mr. Williams asks this court to “make
NBCI be (sic) responsible for the property and food that was
stolen.” Id. at p. 5.
reviewing the complaint in light of a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6) the court accepts all
well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and
construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived
therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420
(4th Cir. 2005) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v.
Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)); Ibarra
v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997).
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires
only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Migdal v.
Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26
(4th Cir. 2001); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002) (stating that a complaint
need only satisfy the “simplified pleading
standard” of Rule 8(a)).
Supreme Court of the United States explained a
“plaintiff's obligation to provide the
“grounds” of his “entitlement to
relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted).
Nonetheless, the complaint does not need “detailed
factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. at 555. Instead, “once a claim has been
stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of
facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Id. at 563. To survive a motion to
dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “But where the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged
-- but it has not ‘show[n]' -- ‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at
679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). “[O]nce a claim has
been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any
set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 (citing
Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology,
Inc., 40 F.3d, 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994)) (once a claim
for relief has been stated, a plaintiff ‘receives the
benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are
consistent with the complaint').
United States Supreme Court has held that claims of negligent
deprivation of property by a prison official do not implicate
the Due Process Clause. See Daniels v. Williams, 474
U.S. 327, 335-36 (1986). A claim of intentional deprivation
of property by a prison official also would not state a
constitutional due process claim, provided that the prisoner
has access to an adequate post-deprivation remedy. Hudson
v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984); Tydings v.
Dep't of Corrections, 714 F.2d 11, 12 (4th Cir.
1983) (finding that Virginia law provides for an adequate
post-deprivation remedy). The right to seek damages and
injunctive relief in Maryland courts in a tort action
constitutes an adequate post-deprivation remedy for inmates
in Maryland prisons. See Juncker v. Tinney, 549
F.Supp. 574, 579 (D. Md. 1982) (“[T]here is no question
that the relief available to plaintiff in state court is
adequate.”); see also Hawes v. Foxwell, No.
DKC-17-2598, 2018 WL 2389060 at *4 (D. Md. May 25, 2018)
(noting that the Maryland Tort Claims Act and the IGO provide
adequate post-deprivation remedies), Fuller v.
Warden, No. WMN-12-43, 2012 WL 831936 at *2 (D. Md. Mar.
the claim that Mr. Williams' personal property was stolen
due to an alleged dereliction of Officer Conner's duties
does not state a constitutional claim for relief. See
Hawes, 2018 WL 2389060 at *4 (D. Md. May 25, 2018)
(dismissing an inmate's property loss claim for failure
to state a cognizable constitutional claim); Fuller v.
Horning, No. WMN-11-1917, 2012 WL 2342947, at *7 (D. Md.
June 19, 2012), aff'd, 504 Fed.Appx. 218 (4th
Cir. 2013) (stating that “removal of property from a
prisoner simply does not state a constitutional
claim”); Young-Bey v. Miller, No. JKB-16-3435,
2018 WL 4108076 at *4 (D. Md. Aug 29, 2018) (holding that a
claim that personal property was destroyed did not assert a
complaint that is dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for
failure to state a claim qualifies for a “strike”
under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act as codified by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g). See Blakely v. Wards, 738
F.3d 607, 610 (4th Cir. 2013) (dismissal of complaint on
grounds enumerated in § 1915(g), and not procedural
posture at dismissal, determines whether the dismissal
qualifies as a strike). Mr. Williams is reminded that under
28 U.S.C. Â§1915(g) he will not be granted in forma
pauperis status if he has
on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained
in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of
the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it
is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent
danger of serious physical injury.
by separate Order which follows, the complaint will be
dismissed for failure to state a claim and a