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Shiheed v. Burnett

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 20, 2019

LIONEL BURNETT, et al., Defendants.



         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants Ellwood Lyles and Tamisha Forbes' renewed Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 54) and Defendants Emmanual Dabiri, Oluwasegun Fashae, Adele Olakanye, Albert Osetosafo, and Sh'Cola Wright's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment.[1] (ECF No. 55).[2] The Motion is ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND[3]

         Plaintiff Yahyi Abdul Shiheed is an inmate who is currently incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland. (Compl. at 1).[4] In his initial complaint filed on April 14, 2017, Shiheed alleges that on March 26, 2017, while he was housed as a pretrial detainee at the Jessup Correctional Institution (“JCI”), “correctional officers brutally beat me up for no legit reason.” (Compl. at 3, ECF No. 1; Suppl. Compl. at 3, ECF No. 4). In an Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) request attached to his Complaint, Shiheed explains that as a result of his holding his door slot open, Officers Burnett, Lyle and Forbes, along with other unnamed officers, came into his cell and beat him up in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Id. at 3-4). The officers claimed Shiheed had a weapon, but he states that no weapon was found on him or in his cell. (Id. at 4). The officers punched, stomped, and kicked Shiheed in his face and head. (Id.). Burnett threatened to kill him. (Id.). Forbes held a video recorder but did not “get the footage of what they did to me in the cell.” (Id.). Shiheed states that he did not receive a ticket for the incident because the officers were trying to cover it up. (Id.).

         He was taken to the University of Maryland hospital for treatment. (Id.). He received fifteen stitches to his left eye and cannot see out of that eye. (Id. at 3). The hospital took pictures of Shiheed's face. (Id.).

         On March 27, 2017, Shiheed was issued a Notice of Inmate Rule Violation regarding this incident. (Lyle & Forbes Mot. Dismiss Summ. J. Ex. 2 at 26, ECF 29-3). He was charged with violating rules 100 (engage in a disruptive act), 101 (commit assault or battery on staff), 400 (disobey an order), 405 (demonstrate disrespect or use vulgar language) and 408 (misuse, alter, tamper with, damage or destroy State property or property of another). (Id.). A hearing was scheduled for June 6, 2017 and Shiheed entered guilty pleas, admitting to the rule violations. (Id. at 30-31). As punishment Shiheed received 200 days in disciplinary segregation, the revocation of 120 credits, and the indefinite loss of visitation. (Id. at 33).

         On March 29, 2017, Shiheed signed ARP complaint JCI-0322-17 regarding the incident. (Id. at 36-37). After investigation, the ARP was dismissed on April 14, 2017. (Id. at 40). Also on April 14, 2017, Shiheed sued Defendants in this Court. (ECF No. 1). On June 16, 2017, Shiheed appealed to the Inmate Grievance Office (“IGO”). filed IGO No. 20170943 as a grievance appeal from ARP JCI-0322-17. (Hassan Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 55-7. On January 3, 2018, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) conducted a hearing on the appeal. (Id.). On February 26, 2018, the ALJ denied and dismissed the grievance as without merit. (Id.; see also id. at 11). Subsequently, the Circuit Court for Allegany County, Maryland affirmed the ALJ's decision in No. C-01-Cv-18-000123. (Hassan Decl. ¶ 4).

         On January 25, 2019, Lyles and Forbes file their renewed Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 54). To date, the Court has no record that Shiheed filed an Opposition or renewed his previous Opposition, (ECF No. 34).[5]

         Also on January 25, 2019, Dabiri, Fashae, Olakanye, Osetosafo, and Wright filed their Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 55). Shiheed filed an Opposition on February 12, 2019. (ECF No. 61).


         A. Conversion of Defendants' Motions

         Defendants style their Motions as motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates the Court's discretion under Rule 12(d). See Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't, Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D.Md. 2011), aff'd, 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012). This Rule provides that when “matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). The Court “has ‘complete discretion to determine whether or not to accept the submission of any material beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby converting the motion, or to reject it or simply not consider it.'” Wells-Bey v. Kopp, No. ELH-12-2319, 2013 WL 1700927, at *5 (D.Md. Apr. 16, 2013) (quoting 5C Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2012 Supp.)).

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has articulated two requirements for proper conversion of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to a Rule 56 motion: notice and a reasonable opportunity for discovery. See Greater Balt. Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor of Balt., 721 F.3d 264, 281 (4th Cir. 2013). When the movant expressly captions its motion “in the alternative” as one for summary judgment and submits matters outside the pleadings for the court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur. See Moret v. Harvey, 381 F.Supp.2d 458, 464 (D.Md. 2005). The Court “does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).

         Ordinarily, summary judgment is inappropriate when “the parties have not had an opportunity for reasonable discovery.” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011). Yet, “the party opposing summary judgment ‘cannot complain that summary judgment was granted without discovery unless that party had made an attempt to oppose the motion on the grounds that more time was needed for discovery.'” Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996)). To raise sufficiently the issue that more discovery is needed, the non-movant must typically file an affidavit or declaration under Rule 56(d), explaining the “specified reasons” why “it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d). A Rule 56(d) affidavit is inadequate if it simply demands “discovery for the sake of discovery.” Hamilton v. Mayor of Balt., 807 F.Supp.2d 331, 342 (D.Md. 2011) (quoting Young v. UPS, No. DKC-08-2586, 2011 WL 665321, at *20 (D.Md. Feb. 14, 2011)). A Rule 56(d) request for discovery is properly denied when “the additional evidence sought for discovery would not have by itself created a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment.” Ingle ex rel. Estate of Ingle v. Yelton, 439 F.3d 191, 195 (4th Cir. 2006) (quoting Strag v. Bd. of Trs., Craven Cmty. Coll., 55 F.3d 943, 953 (4th Cir. 1995)).

         The Fourth Circuit has warned that it “‘place[s] great weight on the Rule 56[d] affidavit' and that ‘a reference to Rule 56[d] and the need for additional discovery in a memorandum of law in opposition to a motion for summary judgment is not an adequate substitute for a Rule 56[d] affidavit.'” Harrods, 302 F.3d at 244 (quoting Evans, 80 F.3d at 961). Failing to file a Rule 56(d) affidavit “is itself sufficient grounds to reject a claim that the opportunity for discovery was inadequate.” Id. (quoting Evans, 80 F.3d at 961). Nevertheless, the Fourth Circuit has indicated that there are some limited instances in which summary judgment may be premature notwithstanding the non-movants' failure to file a Rule 56(d) affidavit. See id. A court may excuse the failure to file a Rule 56(d) affidavit when “fact-intensive issues, such as intent, are involved” and the nonmovant's objections to deciding summary judgment without discovery “serve[] as the functional equivalent of an affidavit.” Id. at 245 (quoting First Chicago Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1380-81 (D.C.Cir. 1988)).

         Here, Shiheed was on notice that the Court might resolve Defendants' Motions under Rule 56 because they styled their Motions in the alternative for summary judgment and presented extra-pleading material for the Court's consideration. See Moret, 381 F.Supp.2d at 464. Shiheed did not file a Rule 56(d) affidavit, nor does he otherwise assert that he needs discovery to properly address the Motions. Accordingly, the Court will construe the Motions as ones for summary judgment.

         B. Stand ...

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