United States District Court, D. Maryland
Paula Xinis United States District Judge.
Rico Baden filed this civil rights complaint in which he
contends that he was the victim of correctional officers'
excessive use of force while housed at the Maryland
Correctional Training Center (MCTC). Baden also alleges he is the
subject of retaliation after filing suit in an earlier,
unrelated case. ECF No. 1. Defendants Warden Dovey and
Corporal Clever move to dismiss or alternatively for summary
judgment as to the first use of force incident. ECF No. 15.
As to the second incident, Defendant Christopher Levan had
resigned from MCTC as of April 1, 2018, so service of process
for him was refused. See ECF No. 13.
Court has reviewed the pleadings and finds a hearing
unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For
the following reasons, Defendants' motion, construed as
one for summary judgment, is granted as to the first incident
alleged in the Complaint. The matter remains open regarding
claims against Defendant Levan. Counsel for Defendants shall
provide the Court the last known address for Defendant Levan
under seal so that service of the complaint may be
effectuated on Levan.
following facts are pertinent to resolving the current motion
and are construed most favorably to Baden. On October 24,
2017, Baden complained that his food included a hair in it.
ECF No. 1 at p. 4; ECF No. 15-5 at p. 4. Baden contends that
he told Clever about the problem with his food, and that
Clever responded, “Eat the hairy food or you don't
eat at all!” Id. Clever, and another officer,
Henderson, entered the cell to inspect the tray. Clever
contends that Baden threw the food tray at him. In response,
Baden was restrained and a chemical agent was deployed by way
of an “OC Fogger.” ECF No. 15-5 at p. 4. Baden
characterizes the restraint as an assault during which time
he was punched and kicked, thereby making it difficult for
him to breathe.
restrained, Baden received treatment for exposure to the OC
spray. Id. ECF No. 15-5 at p. 13. After he was
examined by medical staff, Baden claims he was again
assaulted, this time by Officer Levan and another officer who
only identified himself as
“Tattoo.” Id. Baden maintains that these
officers slammed his head on the concrete walkway in front of
the medical building after he had asked them to stop pulling
his arms in an “awkward and painful position.”
of Baden taken after the incident involving Clever show no
obvious injuries but with a large stain on the front left leg
of his pants. ECF No. 15-5 at p. 19. Baden requested to see a
nurse “for [his] back.” ECF No. 15-6 at p. 2. The
examining nurse noted that Baden was walking with a steady
gait and was “in no acute distress.” Id.
Examination of Baden's back was unremarkable.
Id. The nurse also recorded that Baden did not
complain of pain.
result of this incident, Baden was charged with a violation
of disciplinary rule 101, which prohibits assaulting a
correctional officer. ECF No. 15-3 at p. 4. At a disciplinary
hearing held on January 29, 2018, Baden admitted guilt to the
charge and was sentenced to 180 days of segregation,
revocation of 120 days of good conduct time, and indefinite
loss of visitation. Id. at p. 9. Baden's
adjustment history is noted as poor in an explanatory remark
for the penalties imposed. Id. at p. 10, see
also p. 3 (adjustment history). A related investigation
found that Baden had assaulted Clever, but Clever declined to
press charges. ECF No. 15-7 at pp. 2-5.
the retaliation claim, Baden maintains that after he had
filed a separate civil rights suit in this Court (Civil
Action PX-17-2964), he was denied recreation, was served
inedible food, suffered verbal and physical abuse, had his
mail withheld, and was denied recreational time. Id.
He alleges that these events have caused him to suffer from
insomnia, physical and mental stress, and post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD). Id.
Standard of Review
the parties have submitted evidence outside the four corners
of the Complaint and have been given reasonable opportunity
to present all pertinent material, the Court will treat the
motion as one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(d). Pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, summary judgment shall be granted if the
movant demonstrates that no genuine issue of disputed
material fact exists, rendering the movant entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(d). “By its very terms, this standard provides that
the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct.
2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (emphasis in original).
“The party opposing a properly supported motion for
summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or
denials of [his] pleadings, but rather must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” See Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football
Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003)
(alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The
Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the non-movant without weighing the evidence or assessing
witness credibility. See Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med.
Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002).
Factually unsupported claims and defenses may not proceed to
trial. Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526.
Excessive Force Claim
sustain his excessive force claim, Baden must demonstrate
that the force Clever used was not applied as a
“good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline,
” but rather was imposed “maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992). In assessing whether
Baden has generated sufficient evidence to survive summary
judgment, the Court considers the need for application of
force; the relationship between that need and the degree of
force applied; the extent of the injury inflicted; the extent
of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates as
reasonably perceived by prison officials; and any efforts
made to temper the severity of the response. Whitley v.
Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321 (1986). The absence of
significant injury alone is not dispositive; if force is
applied maliciously and sadistically, then liability is not
avoided simply because the prisoner had the good fortune to
escape serious harm. Id. at 38. Deployment of a
chemical agent “in quantities greater than necessary or