Thomas v. Officer Linton et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 1/9/2017. (kns, Deputy Clerk)(c/m 1/9/17)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
WENDELL BRUCE THOMAS
OFFICER LINTON and
Civil Action No. DKC-16-4146
The above-entitled civil rights complaint was filed on December 27, 2016, together with
a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Because he appears indigent, the motion will be granted.
The complaint must be dismissed for the reasons stated below.
Plaintiff is an inmate in the Maryland Division of Correction and is incarcerated at the
Brockbridge Correctional Facility in Jessup, Maryland. He states that on September 15, 2016, he
was given approval to order a package by Officer Linton. ECF No. 1 at p. 5. The package
arrived at the prison on October 11, 2016, and on October 13, 2016, Linton gave the package to
another inmate. Id. On November 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint regarding
the package which was found meritorious by Warden Foxwell on November 30, 2016. Id. at p.
6. Plaintiff was reimbursed for the cost of the package and told by Foxwell that he would be
allowed to order another package with “the exact same contents” of the previous order. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that he was denied due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment when his package was not delivered to him and caused him a “grievous loss when
[his] outside support refused to send [him] more funds for fear of those funds being mishandled
by Ms. Linton and the administration” at the prison. Id. Plaintiff also claims that the actions of
Defendants, Linton and Foxwell, violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment; that he was denied his right to participate in programs based on
discrimination; that he was mentally abused when Linton gave away his package knowing the
prison was without state-issued clothing to substitute for the contents; and that he was placed in
violation of an institutional rule requiring inmates to be dressed in a presentable manner. Id. at
pp. 6 – 7. Plaintiff further avers that he was denied his right to exercise his rights as a consumer
when he was not allowed to add items to the replacement order. Id. at p. 8. He seeks declaratory
and injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Id.
Where, as here, the deprivation of personal property by prison officials does not impact
on a protected constitutional right such as the right to observe one’s chosen religion or to redress
grievances in a court of law, there is no cognizable constitutional claim stated. In the case of
such property, sufficient due process is afforded to a prisoner if he has access to an adequate
post-deprivation remedy. See Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 540 (1981), overruled on other
grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986). On the face of the complaint, it is evident
that Plaintiff was provided with an adequate post-deprivation remedy when his account was
credited with the cost of the items lost. The loss of property as described does not become one of
constitutional magnitude simply by virtue of Plaintiff’s status as a prisoner; the remedy provided
is identical to that which any consumer would be entitled under like circumstances.
Plaintiff’s remaining claims fare no better. To the extent misdelivery of a package and
denial of an opportunity to order more than just a replacement of the goods ordered1 constitutes a
hardship, there is nothing in the complaint that suggests those particular circumstances were an
Plaintiff states that he did not appeal the Warden’s response to his administrative remedy because it was
found meritorious. ECF No. 1 at p. 2. However, to the extent Plaintiff takes issue with the limitation on what he
was permitted to order, an appeal of that portion of the response was required before it may be raised as a basis for a
claim in this court. See Blake v. Ross, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1858 (2016) (available remedies must be exhausted).
atypical and significant hardship as compared to the ordinary incidents of incarceration.
Plaintiff’s alleged inability to dress in a presentable manner and his alleged emotional distress,
does not constituted such a hardship. Absent that evidence, an Eighth Amendment claim is not
stated. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 493 (1995) (requiring an atypical and significant
hardship as prerequisite to creation of a constitutionally protected liberty interest). “[G]iven a
valid conviction, the criminal defendant has been constitutionally deprived of his liberty to the
extent that the State may confine him and subject him to the rules of its prison system so long as
the conditions of confinement do not otherwise violate the Constitution.” Meachum v. Fano, 427
U.S. 215, 224 (1976). In short, there is nothing in the facts stated that would lead to even a
suspicion that the loss of Plaintiff’s package was punishment, let alone cruel and unusual.
The complaint here shall be dismissed under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). See
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); see also Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32
(1992); Cochran v. Morris, 73 F.3d 1310, 1315 (4th Cir. 1996); Nasim v. Warden, 64 F.3d 951,
954-55 (4th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff is hereby notified that he may be barred from filing future suits
in forma pauperis if he continues to file federal civil rights actions that are subject to dismissal
for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted under the standards set forth in
§ 1915(e) or under Fed .R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
A separate Order follows.
January 9, 2017
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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