United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
April 25, 2019, Plaintiff Alfred Lewis, currently held at the
Prince George's County Detention Center
("PGCDC"), filed an unverified Complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging deficiencies in,
and a lack of access to, the PGCDC law library, for which he
seeks injunctive relief requiring greater access to the
library and money damages. ECF l. Defendant Audrey Lau filed a
Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or in the Alternative, Motion
for Summary Judgment (ECF 8), opposed by Lewis (ECF
Lau then filed a Reply. ECF 11. For reasons set forth herein,
Defendant Lau's dispositive motion, construed as a motion
for summary judgment,  is DENIED. The Complaint is DISMISSED
without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
The Parties' Assertions and Arguments
asserts that PGCDC has an "insufficient, poor and
inadequate law library" often unavailable to him. As a
result, Lewis, who states he is unrepresented in his pending
criminal case, alleges that he did not have proper resources
to research his criminal case or to request copies of case
law and law review articles, forcing him to accept research
performed by library staff.ECF 1, pp. 2-4.
asserts an affirmative defense to suit; namely, that Lewis
failed to exhaust administrative remedies by filing an
internal grievance with the Prince George's County
Department of Corrections pursuant to its Inmate Grievance
Policy prior to bringing this lawsuit. Lau asserts that
because Lewis did not pursue his claim administratively, his
civil rights action must be dismissed pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1997e. ECF 8, pp. 4-6; ECF 8-1 (Excerpt of Inmate
Handbook, § 800, Inmate Grievance Procedure; ECF 8-2,
Policy and Procedure Manual for grievance process).
unverified response, Lewis states that "at multiple
times [he has] tr[ied] to use the grievance system. In which
staff has inform[ed] me...that they will not provide them
& law library is not a grievable offense...." ECF
11, p. 2. Lewis then states that staff refuse to provide
grievance forms and that "pretrial detainees do not have
the time to waste on the inadequate grievance process."
counters this statement by providing an affidavit
demonstrating that Lewis failed to comply with the known and
available grievance procedure available to PGCDC detainees,
ECF 12-1, Affidavit of Derrick Garnett.
Standard of Review
Court is mindful of its obligation to liberally construe the
pleadings of pro se litigants. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nonetheless, liberal
construction does not mean that this Court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a
cognizable claim, Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990), or
"conjure up questions never squarely presented."
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985). In making this determination, this Court
"must hold the pro se complaint to less stringent
standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read
the complaint liberally." White v. White, 886
F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989).
motion for summary judgment is appropriate under Rule 56(c)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure only if there exists
no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In other words, if
there clearly exist factual issues "that properly can be
resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably
be resolved in favor of either party, " then summary
judgment is inappropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
250; see also Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810
F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987); Morrison v. Nissan Motor
Co., 601 F.2d 139, 141 (4th Cir. 1979); Stevens v.
Howard D. Johnson Co., 181 F.2d 390, 394 (4th Cir.
1950). The moving party bears the burden of showing that
there is no genuine issue of material fact. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(c); Pulliam, 810 F.2d at 1286 (citing
Charbonnages de France v. Smith, 597 F.2d 406, 414
(4th Cir. 1979)).
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must draw
all reasonable, inferences in favor of and construe the facts
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See
Tinsley v. First Union Nat'l Bank, 155 F.3d 435, 437
(4th Cir. 1998). Nevertheless, a party who bears the burden
of proof on a particular claim must factually support each
element of his or her claim. "[A] complete failure of
proof concerning an essential element... necessarily renders
all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 323. Thus, on those issues on which the non-moving party
will have the burden of proof, it is his or her
responsibility to confront the motion for summary judgment
with an affidavit or other similar evidence. See
Anderson, 477U.S. at 256.
Prisoner Litigation Reform Act provides, in pertinent part,
42 U.S.C. § 1997e:
(a) Applicability of administrative remedies No action shall
be brought with respect to prison conditions under section
1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner
confined in any j ail, prison, or other correctional facility