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Turner v. Foxwell

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

July 31, 2019

MAURICE TURNER Identification Nos. 406-877 and 2765766, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Maurice Turner, a pro se litigant incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECF') in Westover, Maryland, brings this civil rights action against Defendant Warden Ricky Foxwell pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges Foxwell, who has "authority" within ECI, is responsible for a "lack of security." ECF No. 1 at 3.[1] Turner bases his claim on a May 3, 2017 incident during which he was stabbed in the back and back of his head by an unknown inmate. ECF No. 1 at 2. Pending before the Court is Defendant Foxwell's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 12. The Court advised Plaintiff of his opportunity to oppose the motion, ECF No. 13, but Turner did not file an opposition. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND[2]

         In the early evening of May 3, 2017, Housing Unit #l-B-TIer officer Joshua Watson noticed Turner had blood on the front of his tee shirt. ECF No. 12-3 at 2. Watson contacted Officer-in-Charge Randall Nesmith for help and handcuffed Turner for transport to the medical department. Id. at 2, 7, 10, 13, 15-16.

         Registered Nurse Amanda Morris examined Turner and found that he had a small laceration on the middle of his back and another by the right ear. Morris applied steri-strips and released Turner to custody.[3] Id. at 18. Turner's injuries were photographed; he refused to make a statement and was placed on administrative segregation pending an investigation. Id. at 4-5, 17, 20-21, 23-24.

         Prisoners in the dayroom were searched; while four weapons were found, none was consistent with the type of weapon that caused Turner's injuries. Id. at 2, 7, 10, 13, 22, 25. Duty Officer Walter West, the Assistant Warden, placed the tier on lock-down. Id. at 2, 7, 10, 13. By 8:50 p.m., Intelligence & Investigative Division ("IID") Detective Robert Fagan was contacted and IID Case No. 17-35-00886 was assigned. Id. at 2, 7, 10, 13-14. The IID Report was logged in as a "Non-Cooperating Inmates/Detainees in Assault Incidents" Report. See ECF No. 12-6 at 2.[4]

         On May 4, 2017, Captain Barnes from IID interviewed Turner, According to Captain Barnes Turner reported that he was standing in front of his cell door facing it when he felt something sharp on the back of his neck but did not turn around. Id. at 4. He stated that he then felt something warm running down his neck, and that is when he realized that he had been cut and was bleeding. Id. Turner stated that he did not see his assailant, and when if he knew of any reason he would have been assaulted, Turner replied that he had been on the same tier for 14 months and never had trouble with anyone. Id. Turner's only documented enemy, Anthony Mitchell, was at ECI but housed on the East Compound. Id.; see also ECF No. 12-7, Offender Case Management System ("OCMS") Printout of Turner's Enemy Alert & Retractions Screen, printed November 19, 2018. The OCMS Printout of Plaintiff s Intake/Gang Affiliation Screen showed Turner had no affiliation with a Security Threat Group "(STG"). ECF No. 12-8.


         Defendant style his motion as a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court considers only the facts in the complaint or "integral to the complaint." Sec 'y of State for Defense v. Trimble Navigation Ltd., 484 F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007). However, Rule 12(d) requires courts to treat a motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment when the court considers matter outside the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Before converting a motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment, courts must give the nonmoving party "a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." i#. Consistent with this rule, the nonmoving party must have some indication that the court will treat the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment and "must be afforded a reasonable opportunity for discovery" if it is essential to the nonmoving party's ability to oppose the motion. Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted).

         It is obvious when the moving party styles its motion as a "Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment," as is the case here, that the Court may treat the motion as one for summary judgment. See Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.2d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir.1998). To show that a reasonable opportunity for discovery has not been afforded, the nonmoving party must file an affidavit or declaration under Rule 56(d) explaining why "for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition," Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d), or otherwise put the district court on notice of the reasons why summary judgment is premature, see Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244-45 (4th-Cir. 2002). Here, Plaintiff has not filed a Rule 56(d) affidavit or otherwise requested discovery in this matter. Under these circumstances, the Court will construe Defendant's motion as a Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court grants summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat v. Bait. Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). The nonmoving party has the burden to show a genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87(1986).


         To the extent that Turner's Complaint may be construed as alleging a failure to protect claim under the Eighth Amendment, Turner has failed to introduce any evidence from which a jury could find in his favor.

         The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids punishment that involves "the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976). Deliberate or callous indifference by prison officials to a specific known risk of physical harm to an inmate at the hands of a fellow prisoner violates this Eighth Amendment prohibition. Pressly v. Hutto, 816 F.2d 977, 979 (4th Cir. 1987). Negligent failure by a prison official to protect a prisoner from attack by another prisoner, however, is not a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. A prison official may be held liable under the Eighth Amendment only if he knew that a prisoner faced a substantial risk of serious harm and ...

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