Hart v. Shearin
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Levi Russell, III on 1/15/2016. (c/m 1/15/16)(krs, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
NATHANIEL LEKAI HART,
BOBBY P. SHEARIN,
Civil Action No. GLR-14-2477
Nathaniel Lekai Hart’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 24)
and Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 30),
and Defendant Bobby P. Shearin’s Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No 25).
an inmate at the North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”)
in Cumberland, Maryland, and Shearin is NBCI’s former warden.
Principally at issue is whether Shearin violated Hart’s federal
constitutional rights when he placed Hart in segregated housing.
documents, finds no hearing necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6
For the reasons outlined below, the Court will
deny Hart’s Motions and grant Shearin’s Motion.
NBCI Lockdown and Segregated Housing Units
Due to a rash of severe assaults by NBCI inmates on other
inmates and NBCI staff, NBCI placed the institution on lockdown
on August 5, 2013.
During the lockdown, NBCI limited inmate
showers, recreation, congregate religious observance, and group
Inmates were permitted, however, to exercise and
conduct religious worship in their cells.
In further effort to quell the violence initiated by NBCI
Housing Unit #1 as the primary segregation unit.
Housing Unit #2 for Maximum II inmates—inmates requiring special
programming, such as mental health services, and inmates being
suggested difficulty in adjusting to a general population unit.
NBCI made housing unit assignments based on
each inmate’s behavioral history and institutional adjustment.
NBCI placed Hart on disciplinary segregation on December
transferred Hart to Housing Unit #2 on January 23, 2014.2
Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are taken from
the parties’ briefings on the instant Motions, and are viewed in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
The record is unclear as to where Hart was housed between
January 2, 2014 and January 23, 2014.
transition back to normal operations in 2014.
Housing Unit #2
resumed normal operations in August 2014.
Hart’s Worship, Visitor, and Occupational History at NBCI
Between Sunday, August 10, 2014, and Sunday, January 11,
Specifically, he attended three services in August 2014, two
services in September 2014, four services in October 2014, five
services in November 2014, and four services in December 2014.
Hart has received two visits at NBCI.
A social worker
visited him on October 8, 2012, and his former wife visited him
on April 26, 2014.
NBCI placed Hart on a waiting list for a sanitation job on
January 27, 2014.
On August 8, 2014, he began his sanitation
sanitation job to his current status as a student.
Procedure (“ARP”) request, complaining that he was a general
population since January 2014.
(ECF No. 25-11).
grievance with the Inmate Grievance Office (“IGO”), appealing
the dismissal of his ARP request.
(ECF No. 25-12).
exhaust administrative remedies and mootness.
order, and refusing an assignment.
On August 28,
Hart filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012) action on August 4,
(ECF No. 1).
Pursuant to the Court’s August 11, 2014
Order (ECF No. 3), Hart supplemented his Complaint on August 20,
substantive due process because he has been unable to attend
school or church, have contact visits, or engage in recreation
or “normal movement.”
(ECF Nos. 1, 4).
Shearin filed a Motion
to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment
on March 13, 2015.
(ECF No. 25).
Motion for Summary Judgment.32
That same day, Hart filed a
(ECF No. 24).
Hart filed a
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment on May 18, 2015.
Hart’s Motion for Summary Judgment is based solely on his
claim that the Court should have required Shearin to file a
response to Hart’s claims without first granting several
extensions of time. First, the Court notes that it also granted
Hart an extension of time to reply to Shearin’s Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment.
(ECF No. 28). Second, because Hart fails to identify any facts
material to his claims, let alone argue that there is no genuine
dispute of material fact, the Court will deny his Motion for
He also filed an unopposed Motion for Leave to File an
Amended Complaint on August 17, 2015.
(ECF No. 30).
Standard of Review
A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not contain
pleader is entitled to relief,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), or does
not state “a plausible claim for relief.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Generally, “a court may not consider extrinsic evidence at
the 12(b)(6) stage.”
Chesapeake Bay Found., Inc. v. Severstal
pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the
[12(b)(6)] motion must be treated as one for summary judgment
under Rule 56.”
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
has articulated two requirements for proper conversion of a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to a Rule 56 motion.
First, the “parties [must]
be given some indication by the court that it is treating the
12(b)(6) motion as a motion for summary judgment” and, second,
“the parties ‘first [must] be afforded a reasonable opportunity
Greater Balt. Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns,
(quoting Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985)).
attached exhibits are sufficient indicia that the Motion might
be treated as one for summary judgment.
381 F.Supp.2d 458, 464 (D.Md. 2005).
See Moret v. Harvey,
Furthermore, Hart has not
filed a Rule 56(d) affidavit expressing a need for discovery or
a motion to appoint counsel to assist him with discovery.
Nguyen v. CNA Corp., 44 F.3d 234, 242 (4th Cir. 1995) (“[T]he
sufficient grounds to reject a claim that the opportunity for
Bouchard, 34 F.3d 1132, 1137 (2d Cir. 1994))).
Court will treat Shearin’s Motion as one for summary judgment.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court must
grant summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the
In reviewing a motion for summary judgment,
the Court views the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144,
Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and
supported, the opposing party has the burden of showing that a
genuine dispute exists.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586–87 (1986).
Rule 56(c) requires
the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by its own
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories,
and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that
there be no genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson, 477 U.S.
A “material fact” is one that might affect the
outcome of a party’s case.
Id. at 248; see also JKC Holding Co.
v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir.
2001) (citing Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th
Whether a fact is considered to be “material” is
determined by the substantive law, and “[o]nly disputes over
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Hooven-Lewis, 249
F.3d at 265.
A “genuine” issue concerning a “material” fact
arises when the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
Shearin’s Motion for Summary Judgment
The Court will grant Shearin’s Motion for Summary Judgment
Moreover, even assuming Hart exhausted administrative remedies,
The Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §
grievances until they receive a final denial of
Chase v. Peay, 286 F.Supp.2d 523, 530 (D.Md. 2003),
aff’d, 98 F.App’x 253 (4th Cir. 2004).
This Court may not
consider a claim that has not been exhausted.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 219–20 (2007).
See Jones v.
Exhaustion “means using all
steps that the agency holds out, and doing so properly (so that
the agency addresses the issues on the merits).”
Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006) (quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286
F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002)).
employing the ARP system, such as NBCI, must exhaust the system
before filing a grievance with the IGO.
In order to exhaust the
ARP system, Hart was required to obtain a response from the
Commissioner of Corrections.
Hart, however, failed to do so.
(See ECF No. 29-2).
failed to exhaust administrative remedies, and, consequently, he
is not permitted to bring his claims in this Court.
U.S. at 211 (citing Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002)).
Merits of Hart’s § 1983 Claims
Shearin is entitled to summary judgment on all of Hart’s § 1983
Constitution or laws of the United States and that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
construing his Complaint, Hart asserts that Shearin violated his
Hart also alleges that Shearin violated his First
Amendment rights because his confinement to segregation caused
him to lose all access to church services. This claim is moot,
however, because it is undisputed that Hart has attended at
least eighteen church services while in segregation.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (explaining that a Court should
liberally construe pro se pleadings).
The Court will address
these rights in turn.
The Eight Amendment, applicable to the states through the
Fourteenth Amendment, provides that cruel and unusual punishment
shall not be imposed.
U.S. Const. amend. VIII.
the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment, a prisoner must
prove two elements: (1) that the deprivation of a basic human
subjectively the officials acted with a sufficiently culpable
state of mind.
Shakka v. Smith, 71 F.3d 162, 166 (4th Cir.
1995) (quoting Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1379 (4th
entitled to summary judgment on Hart’s Eighth Amendment claim.
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process
The Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause provides that
property, without due process of law.”
U.S. Const. amend. XIV,
violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, the
Court must find that a liberty interest protected by the Due
Process Clause is at stake.
See Scheuerman v. Bozman, No. 09-
1386, 2010 WL 761125, at *4 (D.Md. Mar. 1, 2010) aff’d, 382
F.App’x 284 (4th Cir. 2010).
In Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472,
483–84 (1995), the Supreme Court of the United States recognized
interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause.”
state creates such an interest when it “imposes atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary
incidents of prison life.”
Id. at 484.
To determine whether Hart possessed a liberty interest in
avoiding confinement in segregation, the Court must compare the
conditions to which he has been exposed in segregation with
those he could expect to experience as an ordinary incident of
Beverati v. Smith, 120 F.3d 500, 503 (4th Cir.
In Beverati, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit concluded that there was no liberty interest in
conditions in segregation:
vermin-infested cells smeared with
human feces and urine; unbearably hot temperatures; cold food
recreation; permission to leave their cells only three to four
times per week; and no educational or religious services.
F.3d at 504.
Here, Hart presents no evidence of how the conditions in
segregation differ from those he could expect as an ordinary
demonstrates that Hart’s conditions in segregation are better
than those experienced by the inmates in Beverati because he is
Shearin is entitled to summary judgment on Hart’s Fourteenth
Amendment Due Process claim.
iii. Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection
The Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause provides
that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of the laws.”
U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1.
To prevail on an equal protection claim, a plaintiff must show
“that he has been treated differently from others with whom he
is similarly situated and that the unequal treatment was the
result of intentional or purposeful discrimination.” Morrison v.
Garraghty, 239 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 2001).
If the plaintiff
level of scrutiny. See City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr.,
473 U.S. 432, 439–40 (1985); In re Long Term Admin. Segregation
of Inmates Designated as Five Percenters, 174 F.3d 464, 471 (4th
Because prisoners are not a suspect class, “prison
Hart presents no evidence that he was treated differently
than any similarly situated inmates.
Accordingly, the Court
Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection claim.
Hart’s Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), the Court
should “freely give leave” to file an amended complaint “when
justice so requires.”
The United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit has “interpreted Rule 15(a) to provide that
amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has
been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the amendment
would have been futile.’”
Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426
(4th Cir. 2006) (quoting Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d
503, 509 (4th Cir. 1986)).
In his Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, Hart
attempts to add a § 1983 claim for violation of his right to
hearing or notice before NBCI placed him in segregation.
Complaint because “the security and custody classification of
discretion whose exercise is not subject to federal procedural
due process constraints.”
(4th Cir. 1994).
Slezak v. Evatt, 21 F.3d 590, 594
Thus, Hart’s Motion for Leave to File Amended
Complaint will be denied.
Judgment (ECF No. 25) is GRANTED.
Hart’s Motion for Summary
Complaint (ECF No. 30) are DENIED.
A separate Order follows.
Entered this 15th day of January 2016
George L. Russell, III
United States District Judge
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