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Pevia v. Corcoran

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 9, 2019

DONALD R. PEVIA, Plaintiff
v.
DEYANA CORCORAN, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ellen L. Hollander, United States District Judge.

         Self-represented plaintiff Donald R. Pevia, an inmate currently confined at the North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”), filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his rights to Equal Protection and Due Process were violated by defendants when he was prevented from attending classes in order to obtain his general education diploma (“GED”). ECF 1.[1] He also filed a supplement to his Complaint. ECF 5.

         Defendants, Governor Larry Hogan, Former Commissioner Deyana Corcoran, Warden Frank Bishop, Lieutenant Vaughn Whiteman, and Correctional Officer II Amy Conner, have moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. ECF 14. The motion is supported by a memorandum (ECF 14-1) (collectively, the “Motion”) and exhibits. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF 16.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow, defendants' Motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted.

         I. Background

         NBCI is organized by unit management. The institution is divided into smaller units, which then operate as small institutions within the larger whole. ECF 16-1 at 12. NBCI consists of four units; housing units 1 and 2 are defined as special management units, which provide a closer level of monitoring due to security reasons. Id. Inmates assigned to Housing Unit 2 are designated as either Maximum II, [2] a member of the special needs unit, or are inmates from the general population who are recent transfers and/or recent disciplinary segregation transfers. ECF 14-3 (Whiteman Decl.), ¶ 4.

         Inmates who are placed on Housing Unit 2 for disciplinary segregation, such as plaintiff, must remain adjustment free for six months before being able to transfer to Housing Unit 3. Those inmates who transfer into NBCI must remain on Housing Unit 2 for one year before being able to transfer to Housing Unit 3. Id., ¶ 5. The parties agree that, other than the special needs inmates confined to Housing Unit 2, inmates confined in Housing Unit 2 are not permitted to attend school. ECF 1 at 4; ECF 14-2 at 8; ECF 14-3, ¶ 3.

         Plaintiff alleges that in 2016, while incarcerated at NBCI, he attempted to sign up for classes to obtain his GED but was advised by the principal that “only inmates from Housing Unit[s] #3 and 4 were permitted schooling.” ECF 1 at 3. Before plaintiff could explore the matter further he was placed on disciplinary segregation. After plaintiff's release from disciplinary segregation he again inquired about obtaining his GED and was advised that an unspecified Maryland regulation prohibited him from attending school. Id. Plaintiff did not pursue the issue. Id.

         On November 3, 2017, plaintiff was transferred to Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”) where he immediately requested to obtain his GED. ECF 1 at 3. Plaintiff took a placement test and began classes on January 2, 2018. Id.

         On January 23, 2018, plaintiff was returned to NBCI, Housing Unit 2. ECF 1 at 3. While assigned to general population on Housing Unit 2 he was convicted of a rule infraction in June of 2018. ECF 14-3, ¶ 6. He was found guilty of another rule infraction in October of 2018. As such, his ability to transfer to Housing Unit 3 was reset to March of 2019. Id.

         Defendants offer that plaintiff has completed his mandatory education requirement. ECF 14-2 at 9. Nevertheless, plaintiff indicates that he may continue in the education program beyond 120 days at the case manager's discretion. ECF 16-1 at 1. Plaintiff has been placed on the list for school programs once he is transferred to Housing Unit 3. ECF 14-3, ¶ 7.

         Plaintiff filed an administrative remedy procedure (“ARP”) regarding the denial of his access to school. ECF 1 at 4. He alleges that Whiteman and Conner attempted to have him sign off on the grievance. Id. In a Supplemental Complaint, plaintiff states that he notified Governor Hogan of the disparate treatment regarding educational opportunities but Hogan failed to change the policy that denied those housed on Housing Unit 2 access to education. ECF 5 at 2.

         II. Standard of Review

         Defendants' motion is styled as a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates the court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. ...


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