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Widener v. City of Bristol

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division

July 2, 2014

CHRISTOPHER WIDENER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BRISTOL, VIRGINIA, ET AL., Defendants.

Charles H. Nave, Roanoke, Virginia, for Plaintiff.

Mary F. Russell, Hale, Lyle & Russell, Bristol, Tennessee, for Defendant Sheriff Jack Weisenburger.

OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES P. JONES, District Judge.

This action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arises out of the sexual assault of the plaintiff, Christopher Widener, by a cellmate while he was incarcerated at the Bristol, Virginia, City Jail. In his Third Amended Complaint Widener sues Jack Weisenburger, the Sheriff of the City of Bristol, Virginia, as well as unknown John Does. The Sheriff has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment contending that the plaintiff failed to exhaust the Bristol City Jail's administrative remedies prior to filing his action, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e ("PLRA"). The plaintiff has opposed the motion, contending that he exhausted those administrative remedies to the extent that he was able.[1]

The Motion for Summary Judgment has been fully briefed and is ripe for decision.[2] For the following reasons, it will be denied.

I

The following facts are taken from the summary judgment record.

While the plaintiff was an inmate at the Bristol City Jail, he was assigned to the same cell as Oadis William White. White had previously committed murder, armed robbery, and three rapes - two against former cellmates. During the night of October 13, 2011, White raped the plaintiff. The plaintiff cried for help and was heard by other inmates, but no deputy or other jail employee responded.

The plaintiff was removed from the cell he shared with White the next night after another inmate told a deputy what had transpired. The plaintiff says that he did not receive any medical treatment, and contends that he filed a timely grievance regarding the rape and his lack of medical treatment on October 16, 2011. The plaintiff gave his grievance form to a uniformed, Caucasian, male deputy. He did not receive a receipt or copy of his grievance form at the time he filed it or at any other time.

The plaintiff eventually received a blood test to check for sexually transmitted diseases, but was not informed of the results of the test.

On or about October 21, 2011, [3] the plaintiff was released from the Bristol City Jail on bond. He was released prior to the end of the nine days that a jail supervisor had to respond to his grievance form. The plaintiff disclosed his new address during his bond hearing, but did not receive a response to his grievance form in the mail.

The plaintiff was generally familiar with prison grievance procedures from previous incarcerations at other jails. At other jails, he had received carbon copies of grievances he submitted. At the Bristol City Jail, the grievance form was on plain white office paper, and he did not receive a copy.

White was later convicted in state court of forcible sodomy ...


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