United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff, Shakir Mitchell, an inmate at North Branch
Correctional Institution (“NBCI”) in Cumberland,
Maryland, brings this action alleging that he has been
subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution arising
from his confinement in a “contingency” cell for
several days. Mitchell also alleges that Defendants
retaliated against him for filing civil suits against
corrections officers. ECF No. 1, pp. 2-3. As relief, he seeks
an order prohibiting the use of contingency cells as well as
compensatory damages. Id. p. 4.
Warden Frank B. Bishop, Jr., former Corrections Commissioner
Dayena Corcoran, and NBCI Correctional Officer Matthew Hill
(“Defendants”) move to dismiss the Complaint or
alternatively for summary judgment to be granted in their
favor. ECF No. 14. Mitchell opposes the motion. ECF No. 17.
The court has carefully reviewed the pleadings and finds no
hearing is necessary. See Loc. Rule 105.6. As to
Defendants Bishop and Corcoran, the Court GRANTS summary
judgment in their favor. As to Defendant Hill, the Court
DISMISSES the Complaint without prejudice for failure to
exhaust administrative remedies.
record evidence, construed most favorably to Mitchell,
chronicles the following events. On September 13, 2017,
Officer Michael Turner responded to the cell of inmate James
Young. See ECF .No 14-4, p. 4. En route to
Young's cell, Turner passed Mitchell's cell, at which
time Mitchell told Turner to “not be harassing his
the next day, as Officer Hill opened the security slot of
Mitchell's cell to collect food trays, Mitchell threw a
liquid substance from his cell. See ECF 14-4, p. 4.
At the time, Turner was on the lower level of the tier
discussing an issue with the food tray involving another
inmate. Id., ECF 14-4, p. 4. Turner heard someone
yet “now!” coming from the direction of
Mitchell's cell; immediately thereafter Turner was struck
with a liquid substance. Id., p. 4. Mitchell admits
that he threw trash out of his cell onto the tier and that
some of the contents may have splashed on a correction
officer's uniform. ECF No. 17-1, pp. 8-9; ECF No. 14-4,
p. 8. Corrections officers searched Mitchell and his cell but
found nothing incriminating or of evidentiary value. ECF No.
14-6, Hill Decl., ¶ 5.
officer Hill, as an eye witness, charged Mitchell with a
prison infraction for throwing a “correctional
cocktail” consisting of spoiled milk, urine and feces
on Officer Michael Turner. ECF No. 1, p. 3; ECF No. 14-6,
Hill Decl., ¶4. As part of the internal investigation
(IID No. 17-35-01835), investigators obtained and observed
prison video surveillance. Id., pp. 4, 9. Mitchell
was placed in Administrative Segregation in a single cell and
on Staff Alert status pending an adjustment hearing. ECF No.
1, pp. 4-7; ECF No. 14-6, Hill Decl., ¶ 7; ECF No. 14-7,
p. 1, Daily Events Log; ECF No. 14-8, p. 1; ECF No. 14-9.
in Administrative Segregation, prison staff assessed Mitchell
after 24 hours and again after five days for whether he could
be returned to general population. ECF No. 14-7, p.2; ECF No.
14-8, p. 2. On September 20, 2017, Mitchell left segregation.
ECF No. 14-11, p. 1. Although the cells used for
Administrative Segregation are certainly not pleasant, the
Defendants submit documentation explaining the penological
and safety reasons for not equipping the interior of the
cells with switches, intercom speaks, mirrors, and fire
suppression sprinkler heads. ECF No. 14-16, Iser Decl.,
September 25, 2017, Mitchell filed an Administrative Remedy
Procedure (ARP), asserting that he had been falsely accused
of throwing a milk carton “with contents” on
staff, wrongly subjected to a strip and cell search, and
moved to a “contingency cell” where he was denied
food, medication and showers. He further averred that while
he was in a “contingency cell, ” staff threw his
food on the floor, the cell was dirty and bug-infested, and
he was forced to use his hands and socks to clean himself
when he used the toilet. ECF No. 14-22, pp. 2-3.
September 29, 2017, the ARP was accepted for filing and
assigned a case number. ECF No. 14-22, p. 2. Although the ARP
initially was deemed “withdrawn” five days later,
Mitchel successfully challenged the withdrawal on the grounds
that his signature had been forged. ECF No. 14-22, p. 1; ECF
No. 17-1, p. 8. Yet inexplicably, Mitchell failed to pursue
his grievance by resubmitting his ARP or appealing the matter
to the Commissioner of Correction and the Inmate Grievance
Office (“IGO”). ECF 14-23, Hassan Decl., ¶
3. Instead, Mitchell next filed suit in this Court.
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).
“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 and draw all inferences in his favor 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 cannot proceed to trial.
Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526.