United States District Court, D. Maryland
WILLIAM C. CLAYBORNE, #368-289, Plaintiff,
ASSISTANT WARDEN WALTER WEST,  LT. HORCE PEPPERS, LT. PATRICIA GATTIS, CO JOSHUA WEISENBURG, CAPTAIN ANTOINETTE PERRY, Defendants.
Paul W. Grimm, United States District Judge.
William C. Clayborne, a prisoner in Maryland state prison,
filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against former
Eastern Correctional Institution (“ECI”)
Assistant Warden Walter West and ECI Officers Horce Peppers,
Patricia Gattis, Joshua Weisenburg and Antoinette Perry.
Compl. 1, ECF No. 1; Am. Compl., ECF No. 6. Clayborne claims
that, while he was incarcerated at ECI, Officer Weisenburg
falsely reported that he threatened Weisenburg, after which
he was housed in the Administrative Segregation Observation
Area (“ASOA”) from February 26, 2018 to March 9,
2018, where he was denied access to his legal mail and
“mistreated very badly.” Compl. 1. He claims that
the delay in receiving his mail “caused [his state
court] case to be dismissed, ” and he seeks injunctive
and monetary relief to remedy that alleged wrong. Compl. 1;
Am. Compl. 3. Additionally, he seeks monetary damages to
compensate for his alleged “inhumane treatment.”
Compl. 1; Am. Compl. 3. And, he asks the Court to provide him
with the diminution credits he claims he could have received
if he had not been transferred repeatedly among
Maryland's state prisons. Am. Compl. 3.
have moved to dismiss or, alternatively, for summary judgment
in their favor, arguing, inter alia, that Clayborne
failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to his claim
that he was denied access to his legal mail and failed to
state a claim based on his alleged inhumane treatment.
Defs.' Mot., ECF No. 19; see Defs.' Mem.,
ECF No. 19-1. Clayborne opposes Defendants' dispositive
motion, ECF No. 20, and requests appointment of counsel. ECF
No. 22.The pending motions may be decided without
a hearing. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). Because
Clayborne competently presents his claims and I am not
holding a hearing in this case, appointment of counsel is
DENIED. Clayborne's requests for mandamus relief are
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Regarding Clayborne's
claim that he was denied access to his legal mail,
Defendants' motion, treated as a motion for summary
judgment, is GRANTED, and the Complaint is DISMISSED without
prejudice for failure to complete administrative exhaustion.
As for Clayborne's claim of inhumane treatment,
Defendants' motion, treated as a motion to dismiss, is
GRANTED because Clayborne fails to state a claim against
regard to all but Defendant's argument that Clayborne
failed to exhaust administrative remedies, I am not
considering any evidence other than the Administrative Remedy
Procedure (“ARP”) grievances that are attached to
or integral to the Complaint, and Clayborne does not dispute
their authenticity. See ECF No. 1-1; ECF No. 19-2,
at 18. Accordingly, I will treat Defendants' motion as a
motion to dismiss for all arguments but the administrative
exhaustion argument, for which I will treat it as a motion
for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d),
10(c); Phillips v. LCI Int'l, Inc., 190 F.3d
609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999). Clayborne's claims are subject
to dismissal if they “fail to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A
pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a
plausible claim for relief, ” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Rule 12(b)(6)'s purpose
“is to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to
resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a
claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Velencia
v. Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D.
Md. Dec. 13, 2012) (quoting Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)).
purposes of resolving a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts
the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations as true. See
Aziz v. Alcolac, 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011).
While this Court is required to liberally construe documents
that self-represented litigants file and hold them to a less
stringent standard than those that attorneys draft, see
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Estelle
v. Gamble, 429 US. 97, 106 (1976), the requirement of
liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore
a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set
forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district
court, see Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901
F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Rather, the Court must also
abide by the “affirmative obligation of the trial judge
to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from
proceeding to trial.” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir. 2003)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates,
through “particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ...
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,
” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see
Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th
Cir. 2013). “A disputed fact presents a genuine issue
‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the non-moving party.'”
Cole v. Prince George's Cty., 798 F.Supp.2d 739,
742 (D. Md. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). If the party seeking
summary judgment demonstrates that there is no evidence to
support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to
the nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a
genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 585-87 & n.10 (1986).
claims that Defendant Weisenburg “fabricated a story
that [Clayborne] had threatened him, ” after which
Clayborne was placed on Administrative Segregation pending an
adjustment hearing, and held from February 26, 2018 through
March 9, 2018 in ASOA. He alleges that, while housed at ASOA,
he was denied access to the courts for a period of two and a
half weeks because he was not permitted to sign for and
receive his legal mail or writing material. Compl. 1, 4; Am.
Compl. 2. He claims that, as a result of this delay, his
appeal of an agency decision issued by the Department of
Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”)
was dismissed in the Circuit Court for Somerset County when
he failed to respond to a dispositive motion. Compl. 1, 3-4.
also complains about the conditions during his confinement in
ASOA, stating he did not have a change of underwear, could
not wash his hands, received “food in paper bags”
and had to eat without utensils, and often his breakfasts
consisted of “toast and jelly.” Compl. 1-3.
Clayborne identifies Captain Perry as the shift commander
during his ASOA placement, Lieutenant Gattis as the officer
overseeing the area, and Lieutenant Peppers as the officer to
whom he complained. He states that Defendant West
“never addressed [his] inhumane treatment nor denial of
legal mail but had someone else answer the ARP by dismissing
it.” Am. Compl. 2.
filed an ARP, ARP ECI-0582-18, complaining about the denial
of access to his legal mail and the poor conditions of
confinement he experienced while housed in ASOA. March 10,
2018 ARP, ECF No. 1-1, at 1-2. The Warden's Office
received it on March 12, 2018 and dismissed it that day for
procedural reasons-it raised multiple issues, and inmates are
required to file a separate ARP for each issue. Id.
at 1. Clayborne was given until March 28, 2018 to resubmit a
grievance containing only a single issue. Id.
March 19, 2018, the Warden's Office received
Clayborne's resubmission, ARP ECI-0582-18, dated March
15, 2018, which centered entirely on the withholding of his
legal mail during his time in ASOA. March 15, 2018 ARP, ECF No.
1-1, at 5. On April 13, 2018, the ARP was dismissed as
unsubstantiated. ECF No. 19-2, at 18. On April 26, 2018,
Clayborne appealed the Warden's dismissal of his ARP
concerning receipt of legal mail; the Commissioner of
Correction received the appeal on May 14, 2018. ECF No. 1-1,
at 6, 8. The outcome of the headquarters appeal is not
apparent from the record; however, IGO employee Samiyah
Hassan declares that Clayborne did not file an IGO complaint
concerning the withholding of legal mail. Hassan Decl. 1,
¶ 3, ECF No. 19-4.