United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm, United States District Judge
Jeff Farmer, a former inmate at Eastern Correctional
Institution ("ECI") in Westover, Maryland, has
filed an unverified complaint asserting claims against
various state corrections officials and staff
Defendants have filed a motion for dismissal or,
alternatively, for summary judgment. ECF No. 42. The Court
advised Farmer of his right to file an opposition to the
motion and of the consequences of failing to do so. ECF No.
43. The Court also granted him an extension of time in which
to file an opposition response. ECF Nos. 44, 45. Farmer,
though, has not filed an opposition to the motion. Instead,
he has moved for appointment of counsel and notified the
Court of his impending release. ECF No. 46.
hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2018). As explained below, Farmer's motion is denied,
Defendants' motion is granted, and the case is dismissed.
Memorandum Opinion issued July 26, 2018, 1 summarized
Farmer's pending claims as follows:
January 19, 2016
Refusal to assign to bottom bunk
July 13, 2017
Assault by gang members; harassment by Officer
Christopher; and refusal to move cellmate out
December 20, 2017
Assault by Officers at ECI
December 20, 2017
"Fraudulent" disciplinary charge and
Denial of access to administrative remedy procedure
February 13, 2018
Denial of food and showers on segregation
July 2018 Mem. Op. 10, ECF No. 24. All other claims raised
were dismissed. Id. Each claim and Defendants'
response to it are summarized below.
January 19, 2016 Bottom Bunk Assignment
first complains about an injury he suffered on January 19,
2016, when he fell off the top bunk in his cell and hurt his
neck and back. See Am. Compl. 4, ECF No. 10-1. He
says that "[f]or weeks" he told Lieutenant Alonzo
Murphy that he "still had a valid bottom bunk slip,
which had been renewed in October 2015." Id.
Farmer alleges he repeatedly explained to Lieutenant Murphy
and other officers that he had pinched nerves in his back
that caused his leg to go numb and made it difficult for him
to climb to the top bunk, especially as there was no chair in
the cell to assist him with the climb. Id. Farmer
maintains that none of the medical explanations he provided
to Lieutenant Murphy and other officers who worked in the
housing unit were required of him, but he offered them in the
hope that the problem would be resolved more quickly.
Id. As a result, Farmer states he suffered worsening
injuries "which can only be possibly fixed by having
surgery performed." Id.
Murphy, the housing unit manager for the unit where Farmer
was housed on January 19, 2016, acknowledges that Farmer told
him prior to that date that he had a valid bottom bunk slip
that would have allowed for him to be assigned to a lower
bunk. Murphy Deck ¶ 3, ECF No. 42-3. In response,
Lieutenant Murphy contacted the ECI medical unit to verify
whether Farmer had a valid bottom bunk slip. Id.
Lieutenant Murphy explains that the medical staff have the
sole authority to issue such slips and that, when he asked
about Farmer, he was told Farmer did not have one.
Id. Lieutenant Murphy explained this to Farmer and
advised him that if he had been issued a bottom bunk slip
from another prison he would need to get one from the ECI
medical unit. Id. ¶ 3. Lieutenant
Murphy also advised Farmer that he would not be assigned to a
lower bunk without a valid slip from ECI medical staff.
medical records for Farmer dating from December 2015 to
January 18, 2016, show he repeatedly complained of back pain;
there is no record, however, of a request for an assessment
for a bottom bunk assignment. See ECI Health Rs.
2-16, No. 42-4. The absence of such a record is evidence that
Farmer failed to request a bottom bunk assignment slip from
ECI. See Fed. R. Evid. 803(7), and 803(10).
July 13, 2017 Gang Assault, Harassment, and Cellmate
alleges that he was attacked by three gang members, one of
whom brandished a knife, and that he was robbed of all his
valuables. See Am. Compl. 11. While Farmer was being
held in a cell in the Administrative Segregation Observation
Area (ASOA), Lieutenant Landon and Officer Arndt questioned
him about the assault. Id. Four inmates (Roger
Terry, Jonathan Cook, Jose Reyes, and Mr. Hudd) were able to
overhear the entire conversation. Id. When asked to
name his assailants, Farmer explained he had only been on the
tier for slightly more than 24 hours, had never met the men
who assaulted him, did not know their names, and only knew
they were members of a gang. Id. When Farmer was
asked if he could identify the men from photographs, he told
Lieutenant Landon and Officer Arndt that it would not be
difficult to do so, as there were only six or so inmates on
the tier who were members of a gang. Id. Despite
Farmer's assurance he could identify his assailants, no
one ever presented him with photographs for that purpose.
the interview had concluded, the inmate who occupied the cell
next to Farmer's repeated the entire conversation for
everyone else on the tier to hear, "in case they missed
it the first time." Id. Farmer's neighbor
also indicated that he was affiliated with the gang
responsible for the assault and signaled to Farmer he would
make his "comrades" aware that Farmer was
"telling on them." Id.
a few days" Farmer was moved to "lock-up,"
where he remained because correctional staff accused him of
refusing housing. Id. Farmer denies refusing a
housing assignment and expresses disbelief that he would be
asked to move back to the housing unit where he had been
assaulted. Id. Farmer sent written requests to
create an enemies list to a person identified only as
"P. Knight" and to his supervisors, Muir and
Bailey, as well as to the warden, assistant warden, "and
others," but he received no responses. Id.
Farmer later discovered the gang was offering a $200 bounty
to any inmate who injured him because Farmer was by then
known as a snitch. Id. He communicated this
information to "case management," but no action was
taken to protect his safety, and he remained housed among the
general population. Id.
says he "also realized that they might actually put one
of them [gang members] or their comrades in the cell with
me," so he filed an Administrative Remedy Procedure
(ARP) complaint. Id. He alleges that after he filed
the ARP, he was forced to share his cell with members of the
Bloods, Murder Incorporated, Black Guerilla Family (BGF), and
Dead Men Incorporated (DMI). Id. at 12.
describes a November 21, 2017 incident between two inmates
who shared a cell in the same housing unit. See Id.
at 14. He alleges they had begged correctional officers to
move them out of the same cell, otherwise the two of them
would fight. Id. According to Farmer, the officers
told the inmates they would not be moved unless they fought
and, because the inmates were not moved, they "beat the
shit out of one another severely." Id. Still,
Farmer's repeated complaints about the risk of a fight
with his cellmate were ignored. Id.
implies that he assaulted his cellmate and that Officers
Christopher and Sturgis pretended not to see the
"2"-3" gash across his [cellmate's]
nose" even as his cellmate left the cell several times
each day under escort. Id. Farmer characterizes
physical fights between inmates on the tier as
"entertainment" for the officers and refers to the
practice as "ECI's Fight Club." Id.
For example, Farmer reports that on one occasion, when his
cellmate, Chris Brown, had left for court, Farmer ate food
that Officer Christopher mistakenly had brought to the tier
for Brown. Id. at 15. Farmer alleges that the lunch
tray was put aside and he ate it because he was starving;
when Brown returned from court, Officer Christopher allegedly
told him that Farmer had eaten his lunch in an effort to
provoke a fight. Id.
Landon interviewed Farmer on July 13, 2017, concerning his
report that he was robbed by three gang members. See
Landon Decl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 42-6; Corrections R. 2-9, ECF
No. 42-5. In an August 10, 2017 memorandum, Lieutenant Landon
said he arranged the interview after Farmer, while being
escorted through "East Medical," told Officer
Morton that he feared for his life. See Corrections
R. 9. Lieutenant Landon went to ASOA Cell 10 where he and
Defendant Officer Daniel Arndt interviewed Farmer. Id.;
see also Arndt Decl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 42-7. Farmer told
Lieutenant Landon that "three white inmates rushed into
his cell and robbed him at knife point." Corrections R.
9. When Lieutenant Landon asked if Farmer could
"identify these individuals by their identification
E-cards," Farmer refused to identify them or to provide
a written statement. Id. Officer Arndt confirms
Lieutenant Landon's account, adding that Farmer was
interviewed in a cell away from other inmates. See
Arndt Decl. ¶ 3. Lieutenant Landon reported that he made
"every effort to keep [his] voice down so other
inmate[s] could not hear what was said" but that Farmer
was "agitated and raised his voice on occasion"
during the interview. Corrections R. 9. Based on Farmer's
refusal to identify his assailants, or to assist in
identifying them, Lieutenant Landon concluded that
"Farmer could not prove a credible threat" to his
safety and he was therefore ordered to return to his unit.
Id. When Farmer refused to do so, he was given a
notice of infraction for refusing housing. Id. The
officer assigned to Housing Unit 6, C tier, where Farmer was
housed on July 13, 2017, and where the alleged assault
occurred, also prepared a report on August 21, 2017,
indicating that Farmer had never approached him to report a
threat to his safety. See id. at 10.
response to Farmer's ARPs (ECI 2763-17 and ECI 2008-17)
stating that his report of a threat to his life was not
properly investigated, the warden found the complaint to be
without merit. See Id. at 5, 14. The identical
response to both ARPs, dated November 16, 2017, states that
an investigation was conducted into Farmer's allegations
but that Farmer could not provide a written statement or
positively identify the individuals who posed a threat to him
or committed the robbery. Id.
ARP (ECI 0328-18) concerning his claim that Officer Adrion
Christopher was disrespectful and threatening to him was also
dismissed after investigation. See Id. at 18-23.
Farmer had complained in part that Officer Christopher took
"being cussed out personally," engaged in
retaliation in response to that behavior, denied food to
Farmer as punishment, threatened Farmer's safety, and
ignored Farmer's warnings that his cellmate was trying to
collect the $200 bounty from BGF and DMI by assaulting
Farmer. Id. at 19-20. Officer Christopher denied the
allegations against him,  and Farmer refused to cooperate with the
ARP investigation. Mat 21-23.
Christopher provided a declaration under oath attesting that
he never denied Farmer any meals, never arranged to have
rival gang members or Fanner's enemies housed with him,
and did not tell other inmates that Farmer was an informant
in an effort to have him killed. See Christopher
Decl. ¶¶ 3-5, ECF No. 42-8. He further explains
that his post assignment in disciplinary segregation did not
include the authority to assign inmates to particular cells.
Id. ¶ 4.
filed another ARP (ECF 327-18) on February 4, 2018, in which
he alleged that he and his cellmate would be involved in a
fight if they continued to be housed together. See
Corrections R. 24. When the ARP was investigated, Farmer
again refused to cooperate. See Id. at 26. Although
Farmer claimed to have submitted multiple written requests to
be reassigned to another cell and that there had been
physical fights with his cellmate, no evidence could be
located to support either contention. See Id. at
to Lieutenant Stephen Elliott, inmates can request to be
moved to another cell if they provide "a verifiable
legitimate basis" for the request, such as the threat of
harm from a cellmate, but corrections staff cannot
accommodate requests motivated by personal preference.
Elliott Decl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 42-9. In Farmer's case,
Lieutenant Elliott states he never received any information
from Farmer indicating that he was facing an imminent threat
of harm from his cellmate. Id.
Management Manager Mike Muir, meanwhile, attests he has no
recollection of ever receiving any written requests from
Farmer, nor of hearing Farmer say his safety was endangered
by other inmates or staff. See Muir Decl. ¶ 4,
ECF No. 42-12. Mr. Muir said his duties did not include
"day to day inmate base file management," and any
requests such as a change in cell assignment due to a threat
to safety would have been forwarded either to custody staff
or to the assigned case manager for investigation, as
appropriate, or would have received a response from Mr. Muir.
Id. ¶¶ 3-4. No such written request was
received from Farmer. Id. ¶ 4.
December 20, 2017 Assault by Officers