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Conaway v. Carr

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 1, 2019

EDWARD CONAWAY, # 2817238, Plaintiff
v.
SGT. APRIL CARR, [1] Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On March 15, 2019, the Court received an unverified[2] civil rights Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 filed by self-represented Plaintiff Edward Conaway. Conaway alleged that Sgt. April Carr did not protect him when she failed to act on his February 15, 2019 request for medical single-cell housing and wrongfully issued him a notice of infraction for refusing to return to his assigned cell. ECF 1, p. 1.[3] In addition to $ 5 million in damages, Conaway seeks injunctive relief mandating his placement in a single medical cell. ECF 1, p. 3. Although incarcerated at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland ("NBCI") at the time of filing, Conaway was released from NBCI on or before September 12, 2019, and now resides in Glen Burnie, Maryland. ECF 1, p. 2; ECF 14. While his release moots his request for an injunction, his claim for money damages will proceed.

         The case is before the Court on Defendant Carr's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF 11) and Conaway's opposition thereto. ECF 13. A hearing to determine the matters pending is not necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For reasons that follow, Defendant Carrr's Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, [4] is GRANTED.

         A. Background

         Conaway claims that Carr neglected his medical needs by refusing to place him in medical housing on February 15, 2019. ECF 1, p. 1. Conaway told Carr that he needed to be housed on C-tier in a single medical cell because of his 2006 injury which resulted in amputation of his penis and the need to use a Foley catheter to urinate. As a result, Conaway's then-cellmate did not want him in the cell because he smelled of urine. ECF 1, pp. 1, 3. Conaway states his interaction with Carr was recorded by the security camera for Tier A in Housing Unit 2. Id. Conaway alleges that he filed a Request for Administrative Remedy ("ARP") seeking placement in a single medical cell in Unit 2 of Tier C at NBCI (ECF 1, p. 3), but provides no documentation of this event.

         Carr denies any communication with Conaway concerning medical or housing issues. ECF 11-2, Decl. of April Carr, p. 2, ¶ 7. Carr also avers that Conaway never told her that he was endangered by his cellmate, that his cellmate was making any comments, or that he should be relocated to a different cell. Id., p. 1, ¶ 4. Counsel for Carr represents that there is no archived video footage of interactions between Conaway and Carr. ECF 11-3, p. 1, ¶ 3, Decl. of Benjamin Bradley with attachments. Further, Conaway lacked the necessary paperwork mandating his transfer to a single cell. ECF 11-2, p. 1, ¶ 2.

         On February 15, 2019, Carr charged Conaway with violating inmate rule 316 (disobeying an order) by refusing to return to his cell. ECF 11-2, p. 2, ¶ 5; ECF 11-3, p. 3. Carr reported that Conaway "came out of his cell for yard [sic] with all of his property packed and left it on the Wing", told her "I refuse to cell with any other inmate because of my condition. I'm refusing to fucking lock back in" and ignored her orders to return to his cell before stating, "fuck it, take me to lockup." ECF 11-2, p. 2, ¶ 5; ECF 11-3, p. 3.

         During his February 19, 2019 hearing on the rule violation, Conaway argued that despite his injury correctional staff "continue to put me in cells with other inmates that could hurt me." ECF 11-3, p. 4. Hearing Officer Jamie Farris found Conaway guilty of violating inmate rule 316, finding Carr's report "to be credible and reliable" and finding that Conaway "did refuse to return to his cell..." Id. at 5. Farris also found that Conaway did not provide "[any] evidence that the other inmates were going to hurt him" or "[a]ny medical documentation for a single medical or single cell...." Id.

         Counsel notes that while Conaway filed an ARP grievance concerning Nurse Holly Pierce alleging the denial of medication, he filed no grievance against Carr prior to filing this lawsuit. ECF 11 -3, Decl. of Benamin Bradley, with attachments; ECF 11-4, IGO Records Decl. of Samiyah G. Hassan, p. 1, ¶2.

         B. Standard of Review

         This 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 o/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).

         A 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)).

         When 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, 477 U.S. at 256.

         C. ...


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