Koenig v. Maryland Division of Correction et al
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Judge J. Frederick Motz on 6/8/2015. (c/m 6/9/2015)(ko, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
BRUCE W. KOENIG, #288937
* CIVIL ACTION NO. JFM-13-3801
MARYLAND DIVISION OF
This complaint for injunctive relief and damages, alleges that defendants (a state agency
and classification management personnel) failed to provide plaintiff sufficient free copy work
while housed at the North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”). Plaintiff further asserts that
defendants Gainer and White yelled at him about the volume and nature of his copy work and
had him placed on an inmate job bank, thus ‘interfering” with a prison physician’s directive to
place him on a no-work status. ECF No. 1. He additionally alleges that he informed defendant
Roderick about Gainer and White’s actions but Roderick failed to respond to his claims.
Plaintiff also claims that because of the aforementioned actions, in March of 2013, the prison
physician altered his work assignment to light duty-clerical work only. He contends that the
work assignment caused him to experience an injury and resulted in the removal of his indigency
status, therefore rendering him unable to obtain free copy work. Id.
Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary
judgment. ECF No. 20. Although afforded several extensions of time, plaintiff has not filed a
response.1 The case is ready for consideration and defendants’ motion, treated as a motion for
summary judgment, may be determined without oral hearing.
See Local Rule 105.6. (D. Md.
Standard of Review
Because matters outside the pleadings will be considered, defendants’ motion shall be
treated as a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a), which provides that: “The 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.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
The “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, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).
The court should “view the evidence in the light most favorable to ... the nonmovant, and draw
all reasonable inferences in [his] favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness'
credibility.” Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644–45 (4th Cir. 2002).
The court must, however, also abide by the “affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was filed on September 22, 2014. Plaintiff
was granted four separate extensions and was to file an opposition by May 7, 2015. Plaintiff has been
provided over six months to file an opposition and has not filed a response.
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), and citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323–24 (1986)).
In Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, the Supreme Court explained that in considering a motion
for summary judgment, the “judge’s function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine
the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” A dispute
about a material fact is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. at 248. Thus, “the judge must ask himself not whether he
thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury
could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented.” Id. at 252.
The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact. No genuine issue of material fact exists if the nonmoving party fails to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her case as to which he or she would have
the burden of proof. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322–23. Therefore, on those issues on which
the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or her responsibility to confront the
summary judgment motion with an affidavit or other similar evidence showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.
Defendant Gainer, plaintiff’s case manager, submits that he provided legal copy work for
plaintiff on August 21, 2012, September 6, 2012, September 25, 2012, October 2, 2012,
November 7, 2013, November 26, 2013, December 4, 2013, and December 18, 2013, in
compliance with Division of Corrections Directives for indigent inmates. ECF No. 20-1, Gainer
Defendants state that plaintiff received rule infractions on July 19, 2002, was found
guilty, and sanctioned with a 90-day segregation term. ECF No. 20-2, White Decl.
Defendant Gainer recommended that plaintiff receive an early removal from segregation
on September 26, 2012, and be assigned to the NBCI job bank sanitation. This recommendation
was approved two days later on September 28, 2012. Id. Plaintiff was moved from Housing
Unit 1 (special confinement housing) to Housing Unit 4 (general population) on October 5, 2012.
Gainer remained plaintiff’s case manager until his transfer to the Western Correctional
Institution (“WCI”) on January 15, 2014. ECF No. 20-1, Gainer Decl. Gainer affirms that on
October 23, 201, he conducted an annual security review for plaintiff in absentia and
recommended that plaintiff’s security level be reduced from maximum to medium security. This
recommendation was approved on November 18, 2013. Id.
Plaintiff remained assigned to Housing Unit 4 sanitation from January 24, 2013, until his
transfer to WCI. He was assigned to the Housing Unit 2 job bank at his first assignment at WCI
and was moved to Housing Unit 1 on June 26, 2014, when his assignment was modified to
Housing Unit 1 sanitation. Id.
Defendant Gainer maintains that while plaintiff was assigned to his caseload, he did not
yell at him. He intimates, however, that plaintiff claimed to have a hearing impairment and often
asked him to speak louder to allow him to hear more clearly. Id. Defendant White states that he
first met with plaintiff on October 22, 2012, to discuss his security review instrument. White
affirms that plaintiff did not discuss his institutional job assignment and did not mention his “no
work status” at that meeting. ECF No. 20-1, White Decl. White further states that on November
26. 2012, he received plaintiff’s request dated November 5, 2012, requesting legal copies. White
affirms that upon plaintiff’s arrival at White’s office, plaintiff indicated that he had already
received copies from the NBCI Librarian. Id.
Defendant White also maintains that he met with plaintiff on December 4, 2012, in
response to a request for base file copy work. ECF No. 20-2, White Decl. Plaintiff submitted
copy work to White and they were in turn submitted for photocopying to the NBCI Librarian
and returned to plaintiff upon completion. Id.
Five days after his assignment to the Housing Unit 4 Sanitation detail, on January 29,
2013, White met with plaintiff in response to another request for legal copy work.2
stated that he had recently been placed on Housing Unit 4 Sanitation, was unable to work, and
had a medical report so indicating. White’s supervisor recommended that plaintiff be placed “off
all calls” until medical personnel could clarify the medical assignment order, which was due to
expire on February 28, 2013. Id. White drafted a memo to the prison physician, setting out two
potential job duties plaintiff could perform and asked the physician to review the job duties and
to make a determination whether plaintiff could perform them. The physician indicated that
plaintiff could perform one of the job assignments (cleaning tables). Custody was given specific
instructions as to the limitations on plaintiff’s job duties to “only the task approved by medical
White affirms that at no time during his contact with plaintiff did he yell at him,
but suggests that plaintiff had informed him several times that he is hard of hearing and that he
needed White to speak up so that he could understand him.
Defendants claim that there is no constitutional right to free copy work and in any event
the record is clear that defendants Gainer and White provided plaintiff with requested
photocopies of legal materials as required by agency regulations and plaintiff has failed to show
that defendants' actions (or inactions) interfered with his right of access to the courts.
further claim that plaintiff has failed to show that in placing him on a sanitation detail to clean
White states that he made photocopies or reviewed legal documents for plaintiff on at
least eleven occasions from October 5, 2012 to October 15, 2013. ECF No. 20,-2, White Decl.
tables and chairs defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical conditions and
disabilities.3 The court agrees.
Having found no genuine dispute of material fact justifying a trial on the merits in this
case, the court shall grant defendants= motion for summary judgment by separate order.
Date: June 8, 2015
J. Frederick Motz
United States District Judge
Moreover, defendants assert that the Maryland Division of Corrections (“DOC”) is not a
person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The court concurs with this affirmative defense.
Defendant DOC is a state agency operating as a division of the Maryland Department of Safety and
Correctional Services. See Md. Code. Ann., Corr. Servs., Art., §§ 1-101(g) and 3-201. Neither a state
nor an agency of a state is a Aperson@ within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. ' 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep=t
of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 64-65 & 70-71 (1989). Moreover, state agencies are immune from liability
under the Eleventh Amendment from a § 1983 suit in federal court without regard to the nature of the
relief sought. See Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 101-01 (1984); C.H. v.
Oliva, 226 F.3d 198, 201 (3rd Cir. 2000). Consequently, the complaint against DOC is subject to
dismissal for want of jurisdiction.
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