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Williams v. Moyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 9, 2019

EDWARD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN M. MOYER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Edward Williams, an inmate at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI") in Westover, Maryland, has filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Stephen M. Moyer, the former Secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ("DPSCS",, alleging unspecified violations arising from an incident in which he slipped and fell on spilled water at a Maryland correctional facility. Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion for Summary Judgment"). Although Williams was provided notice of the Motion, he has not opposed it. Upon consideration of the submitted materials, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Williams's Fall

         In his unverified Complaint, Williams asserts that on April 7, 2016, while he was incarcerated at the Maryland Reception Diagnostic Classification Center ("MRDCC",, he slipped and fell because there was water on the floor of his cell. When Williams fell, he struck his back, arms, and head on the floor. Williams claims that the water had been on the floor of his cell for three days prior to his fall and that his cellmate, Anthony Phillips had notified Officer Stepney of the problem.

         According to Lawrence Walker, the DPSCS Acting Correctional Maintenance Service Manager, tier logs for MRDCC Housing Unit 5C, where Williamsss cell was located, reveal that at 9:47 a.m. on April 7, 2016, a maintenance worker was checking the sprinkler system in the unit. The water was turned on to check the sprinkler, causing flooding in cells 24, 26, 27, and 32. At 9:48 a.m., a call was made to request sanitation and water clean-up workers. At 10:25 a.m., three sanitation workers arrived in the unit and used wet vacuums to clean up the water on the top and bottom tiers of Housing Unit 5C. At 10:56 a.m., Williamsss cellmate reported that Williams had fallen when he was walking to the toilet in cell 5C-02. At 11:50 a.m., the sanitation workers left the tier for lunch and returned at 1:20 p.m. There is no record of Williams leaving the tier for medical attention.

         II. ARPs

         The following day, on April 8, 2016, Williams filed an administrative remedy procedure complaint ("ARP"), No. 0230-16, regarding his fall. According to Williams, it was dismissed without a response or a proper investigation. In fact, on April 11, 2016, the ARP was dismissed pending resubmission, and Williams was instructed to provide the following information: the names of staff he notified about the water on the floor, whether and when he received medical treatment, and the names of all staff involved. Williams was given until April 26, 2016 to resubmit his complaint.

         On April 18. 2016, Williams filed a timely resubmission, but it was again dismissed pending resubmission. A copy of the resubmitted ARP is not provided in the record, nor is there an explanation regarding why the resubmission was inadequate. Williams did not file a second resubmission.

         On June 10, 2016, Williams filed an appeal of the dismissal of his ARP with the Commissioner of Correction. According to Williams, this appeal was dismissed two years later, without a proper investigation. Also on June 10, 2016, Williams attempted to file an appeal with the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO") relating to his slip and fall. In that grievance, Williams described how he slipped and fell on water on his cell floor on April 7, 2016. In a letter dated September 1, 2016, IGO Deputy Director Robin Woolford instructed Williams to submit copies of all ARP paperwork not previously provided within 30 days in order to assist with a determination whether he had exhausted administraiive remedies. Williams was forewarned that the failure to provide an appropriate response would result in dismissal of his IGO grievance. Williams responded by providing a copy of his April 18, 2016 ARP resubmission, which he had filed with the Warden of MRDCC.

         In a letter dated January 9, 2017, the IGO directed Williams to submit within 30 days evidence that he had appealed the Warden's response to the Commissioner of Correction. Specifically, Deputy Director Robin Woolford advised:

In order for the IGO to determine whether you have properly exhausted an available ARP remedy, whether you have timely filed this grievance, and whether you have filed grievance in the proper manner, COMAR 12.07.01.04(B)(9)(a) requires that you submit with your grievance at the outset of the grievance process all related ARP paperwork, including your ARP complaint to the Warden, any receipt from the Warden, any response from the Warden, any receipt for the Warden's response, any ARP appeal to the Commissioner,, any receipt from the Commissioner,, and any response from the Commissioner.. I note that you have provided only a copy of your original ARP complaint to the Warden.

IGO Letter at 2, ECF No. 12-4 at 17. Williams was again warned that the failure to provide the required paperwork would result in the dismissal of his grievance "as having been determined to be wholly lacking in merit, without further notice." Id.

         On or about January 23, 2017, Williams responded to this letter by submitting copies of his ARP appeals to the Commissioner, one filed in June 2016 and one in August 2016, to which Williams claimed to have received no response. Williams also asserted that he had never received a response from the Warden to his resubmitted ARP. Later, Williams provided the IGO with a copy of a February 1, 2017 letter he had received from Maryland State Treasurer's Office in response to ...


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