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Bennett v. Foxwell

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 9, 2020



          James K. Bredar Chief Judge.

         Plaintiff Chauncy Bennett is an inmate at Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI). He alleges in his Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that nude photographs sent to him in prison were improperly confiscated and that on October 25, 2018, he was placed in handcuffs and leg shackles from 8:15 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. while attending a civil hearing on his Petition for Judicial Review in the Circuit Court for Somerset County, Maryland. He alleges the handcuffs caused him wrist pain which has been “overlook[ed] for years.” Compl. ECF No. 1. Ricky Foxwell, former Warden of ECI, has filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 14. Bennett has filed a response in opposition to Foxwell's dispositive motion. ECF No. 16. Bennett later filed two separate pleadings captioned as Motions for Summary Judgment. ECF Nos. 18, 19.[1]

         This case is ripe for disposition and no hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons to follow, Bennett's Motions for Summary Judgment will be denied. Foxwell's Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment, treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be granted.


         Bennett filed this Complaint on January 11, 2019. On January 31, 2019, the Court granted Bennett an opportunity to supplement the complaint and directed him to explain how Warden Foxwell was involved in the matters alleged, indicate the basis for his discrimination claim, and state who placed him in handcuffs. ECF No. 6.

         On February 25, 2019, Bennett submitted correspondence listing the First, Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and “Equal Protection Clause and Discrimination” as claims. ECF No. 7 ¶1. He asserted Warden Foxwell had “knowledge of the photos due to the chain of command by mailroom, Commissioner, IGO hearing, Judicial Review in the Circuit Court for Somerset County….” ECF No. 7 ¶ 3. Bennett also alleged he was discriminated against because “everyone else is receiving” their photographs, while his were withheld for more than two years, and “its duly noted we can obtain naked materials.” Id. As relief, Bennett asks for return of the photographs, punitive damages of $100, 000, compensatory damages of $100, 000, and $100, 000 for “emotional stress.” ECF No. 1 at 4.

         On April 29, 2019, Bennett filed a paper titled “Amending Complaint, ” in which he stated he was offered the photographs by Lieutenant Ward on April 22, 2019 if he would “sign off” on his grievance before the Inmate Grievance Office (IGO). ECF No. 11. Bennett refused because he alleges confiscation of the photographs caused him financial and psychological harm. Id.


         A Motion for Summary Judgment is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) which provides that: “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the motion:

By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

         “A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,' but rather must ‘set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The court should “view the evidence in the light most favorable to . . . the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witnesses' credibility.” Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 645 (4th Cir. 2002). A court must, however, also abide by the “affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial.” Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993)).


         A suit under § 1983 allows “a party who has been deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to seek relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). To the extent Bennett intends to raise a condition-of-confinement claim for the handcuffing and an inadequate medical care claim for his wrist pain under the Eighth Amendment, Foxwell raises Eleventh ...

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