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Reinhardt v. Graham

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 18, 2019

DAVID ALLEN REINHARDT Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN RICHARD GRAHAM, JR., MR. WEBER, LT. BUTLER, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         After this court denied injunctive relief and directed service, (ECF Nos. 8, 9) Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment (ECF No. 17) in response to Plaintiff David Allen Reinhardt’s civil rights complaint as amended (ECF Nos. 1, 7). Mr. Reinhardt opposes the motion via a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 19). The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons set-forth below, Defendants’ motion, construed as one seeking summary judgment, will be granted and Plaintiff’s motion will be denied..

         Background

         Mr. Reinhardt filed this complaint following an incident that occurred on August 27, 2018, at Western Correctional Institution (WCI)[1] where he was incarcerated. He explains that he was approached by Sgt. Middleton at approximately 4:20 p.m., having returned to his cell after the evening meal. Sgt. Middleton told Mr. Reinhardt that “per orders [of] Lt. Bennett” he had to move Mr. Reinhardt to Administrative Segregation and advised that “the good news [was] ‘you did not get stabbed today.’” ECF No. 7 at p. 3. Sgt. Middleton told Mr. Reinhardt he would look into why this was happening. Id.

         Approximately fifteen minutes later, the correctional officer who had accompanied Sgt. Middleton to Mr. Reinhardt’s cell returned. He told Mr. Reinhardt that, “‘Rob was to stab you on orders from DMI because you won’t let nor allow DMI to steal tobacco from the Native American service nor will you give it to them either.’” ECF No. 7 at p. 3. Mr. Reinhardt asked how the planned assault was supposed to have occurred. In response, the officer advised that “Rob” turned in the weapon while at the medical unit and admitted that “he was to stab David Reinhardt 3B44 wheelchair pusher.” Id. The officer further reported that, when Rob was questioned, he indicated that he did not have a problem with Mr. Reinhardt and that is why he did not follow through with the assault. Id.

         Mr. Reinhardt explains that the purpose of placing him on administrative segregation was to allow time for an investigation, but he was never interviewed by anyone investigating the incident. ECF No. 7 at p. 3. He describes himself as a person who stands up for what he believes in and the DMI as a “white gang that only wants to steal tobacco and disrupt Native American Ceremon[ies] by talking.” Id. In Mr. Reinhardt’s view, the totality of the circumstances as well as later-occurring events, created a pervasive risk of harm to his safety. He points to an incident that occurred on September 2, 2018, where an inmate was “found dead in [a] cell and only the cell buddy [was] in there” as further evidence of a pervasive risk of harm. Id. at p. 4. Further, Mr. Reinhardt states that he has been incarcerated for 32 years and has “seen contract killing in prison cells” which were motivated by money. Id.

         On August 30, 2018, Mr. Reinhardt wrote to Warden Graham seeking assistance with maintaining a “single cell and a job while on admin[istrative] seg[regation].” Id. Warden Graham reportedly never responded to Mr. Reinhardt’s missive. Id.

         On September 10, 2018, Mr. Reinhardt wrote to Lt. Bennett because he was in charge of the investigation in Mr. Reinhardt’s case. In the written message Mr. Reinhardt informed Lt. Bennett that he would “not go on Protective custody” and he would not “sign off.” Id. Mr. Reinhardt states he never received a response from Lt. Bennett. Id.

         On October 1, 2018, Mr. Reinhardt saw a Case Management Team for review of his housing assignment status. ECF No. 7 at p. 4. At that time Mr. Reinhardt was informed that Lt. Bennett told the team to put him back into general population. Id. The team made the recommendation to move Mr. Reinhardt back to general population. Id.

         On October 4, 2018, Mr. Reinhardt filed the instant complaint in this court. Id. He explains that “[i]n any other prison where I was housed in if and when I was put on admin. seg. the investigating [lieutenant or captain] would come talk to me.” Id. Mr. Reinhardt believes the manner in which his case was handled was irresponsible and showed a disregard for his safety. Id. As relief, Mr. Reinhardt seeks monetary damages.[2]

         Defendants do not dispute the factual allegations raised by Mr. Reinhardt in his complaint. Rather, they assert, inter alia, that the actions taken in response to the reported threat to Mr. Reinhardt were constitutionally adequate and did not run afoul of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. ECF No. 17. As noted by this court in its Memorandum Opinion denying preliminary injunctive relief, Defendants explained that:

[C]ounsel provides a declaration under oath from Correctional Case Management Supervisor Michael Yates along with relevant records. ECF No. 4. Yates confirms that on August 27, 2018, Plaintiff was placed on administrative segregation pending an investigation into an allegation that he was going to be stabbed by inmate Robert Hawkins. ECF No. 4-1 at p. 1, ¶ 3. The investigation was prompted when Hawkins reported* to the Officer in Charge at the WCI Medical Unit that he was ordered by the DMI to stab Plaintiff because Plaintiff had stopped the DMI from stealing tobacco from the Native American service. ECF No. 4-1 at p. 8 (Information Report dated Aug. 27, 2018). A weapon was found in the inmate’s bathroom in the Medical unit, near a sink, after Hawkins told officers that he had left it there for the purpose of carrying out his assault on Plaintiff. Id. at p. 7 (Administrative Segregation Investigative Report), see also p. 8 (documenting weapon found).
Lt. Margaret Bennett investigated the allegation and concluded her investigation on September 26, 2018, advising the Case Management team that her investigation into Hawkins was not complete; that Hawkins had been placed on administrative segregation 120; and that Plaintiff could be reassigned to general population the following day. ECF No. 4-1 at, p. 1 ¶ 5; ECF No. 4-1 at p. 5.
On September 27, 2018, the Case Management team recommended Plaintiff’s removal from administrative segregation and he was returned to general population on October 5, 2018. ECF No. 4-1 at pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 5&6. Hawkins remains assigned to administrative segregation where ...

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