Washington v. Styles et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 1/24/2017. (c/m 01/24/2017 jf3s, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
JAMES YOUNG WASHINGTON
Civil Action No. DKC-17-0031
LT. V. STYLES,
ECI – DIETARY DEPARTMENT, and
EASTERN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
The above-entitled civil rights complaint was filed on January 5, 2017, together with a
motion to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 2. Because he appears to be indigent, Plaintiff’s
motion to proceed in forma pauperis shall be granted.
For the reasons stated below, the
complaint must be dismissed.
Plaintiff alleges that on June 17, 2015, Lt. Styles forced him to wear improper footwear
to work at his assigned job in the kitchen at Eastern Correctional Institution. During his work
shift, Plaintiff slipped and fell, breaking his “right hip femur bone.” Id. Plaintiff states that
when he fell, Officer Morris asked if he needed medical attention. Plaintiff responded that he
did, but a nurse did not come to the kitchen. Id. The injury he sustained required surgical
placement of a rod and metal plate in Plaintiff’s pelvis. Id. Plaintiff adds that the “second day”
presumably after the surgery took place, medical staff found a blood clot and blood in Plaintiff’s
stool, requiring injections of blood thinning drugs in Plaintiff’s abdomen. Id.
The complaint identifies two defendants who are not properly named. A civil rights
complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must be filed against a person.1 Neither the ECI
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or
Territory . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person with the jurisdiction
Dietary Department nor Eastern Correctional Institution are “persons” within the meaning of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Thus, the only parties mentioned in the complaint who are potential defendants
are the officer who is alleged to have denied Plaintiff the opportunity to wear the boots he
wanted to wear and the officer who allegedly did not summon a nurse to the area of the prison
where Plaintiff fell. ECF No. 1 at p. 3.
The conduct attributed to Styles and Morris does not present a colorable claim for an
Eighth Amendment claim which requires a showing that deliberate acts or failures to act imposed
cruel and unusual punishment on Plaintiff. “Since ‘routine discomfort’ is part of prison life and
‘society does not expect that prisoners will have unqualified access to health care,’ in order to
demonstrate the objective component of conditions-of-confinement or medical care claims
prisoners must demonstrate ‘extreme’ deprivations or neglect of ‘serious’ medical needs.”
Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996) citing Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1,
8-9 (1992). Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate the extreme deprivations required. See e.g., Fruit
v. Norris, 905 F. 2d 1147 (8th Cir. 1990) (failure to provide inmates with protective gear and
ignoring other dangers to personal safety when working inside a raw sewage well established
Eighth Amendment violation).
Moreover, the conduct described does not meet the required subjective state of mind for
either officer involved. “[T]he test is whether the guards know the plaintiff inmate faces a
serious danger to his safety and they could avert the danger easily yet they fail to do so.” Brown
v. North Carolina Dept. of Corrections, 612 F.3d 720, 723 (4th Cir. 2010), quoting Case v.
Ahitow, 301 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir.2002).
Conduct is not actionable under the Eighth
Amendment unless it transgresses bright lines of clearly-established pre-existing law.
Maciariello v. Sumner, 973 F. 2d 295, 298 (4th Cir. 1992). In the case of Styles, who allegedly
thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable
to the party injured . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (emphasis supplied).
denied Plaintiff the ability to wear boots, there is no set of facts that would establish that Styles
knew of a substantial risk to Plaintiff’s safety that would have been avoided if he wore boots. In
the case of the officer who did not summon a nurse to the area where Plaintiff fell, there is no
allegation that Plaintiff was denied medical care or that it was delayed. To the contrary, Plaintiff
states he was provided medical care for his injury.2
The claim asserted is in the nature of a worker’s compensation claim. The state-law
equivalent to such a claim for prisoners incarcerated in Maryland is a Sundry Claims Board
claim filed pursuant to Md. Corr. Serv., Code Ann. § 10-301 et seq. Compensation under that
provision, however, is limited to injuries resulting in a permanent partial or total disability, id. at
§ 10-304(2) and must be filed at the earlier of 24 months of the date of injury or within 12
months of release from incarceration, id. at §10-305(b). This court does not have jurisdiction to
consider such a claim.
Finally, this is the second attempt by Plaintiff to file a complaint concerning this injury.
See Washington v. Eastern Correctional Institution, Civil Action DKC-16-1268 (D. Md. 2016).
On May 4, 2016, that case was also dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. Id. at ECF Nos. 4 & 5. Plaintiff did not appeal the dismissal of the complaint. Id.
The complaint shall be dismissed by separate Order which follows.
January 24, 2017
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
To the extent Plaintiff intended to implicate the medical care providers for the quality of the care he
received, claims of medical malpractice or negligence do not state an Eighth Amendment claim. Mere negligence or
malpractice does not rise to a constitutional level. Russell v. Sheffer, 528 F.2d 318, 319 (4th Cir. 1975); Donlan v.
Smith, 662 F. Supp. 352, 361 (D. Md. 1986).
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