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Woodhouse v. Duncan

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

January 10, 2017

VINCENT LAMONT WOODHOUSE, Plaintiff
v.
UNIT MANAGER DUNCAN, et al., Defendants

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAMELA MEADE SARGENT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The pro se plaintiff, Vincent Lamont Woodhouse, (“Woodhouse”), an inmate incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison, (“Red Onion”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the defendants -- Duncan, Unit Manager; Kiser, Warden of Red Onion; Artrip, Assistant Warden; Gallihar, E.B.P. Manager; Swiney, Unit Manager; Geraldine Baker, T.P.S.; Lt. Kiser; Lt. Stanley; Correctional Officer Miller; Counselor Sowards; Counselor Stallard; Counselor Kegley; Counselor Jonathan M. Gibson; Ingrim, Regional Administrator; J. B. Messer, Grievance Coordinator; Adams, Investigator; Lt. Fannin, Investigator; Lt. McQueen, Investigator; C. Michael Younce, Unit Manager; and Harold Clarke, Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, (“VDOC”).[1] Woodhouse asserts various claims arising from his long-term placement in segregation housing and his brief transfer to a step down unit on February 13, 2017.

         This matter is before the undersigned magistrate judge on the Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment, (Docket Item No. 32) (“Motion”), on referral pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) for a report setting forth appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law and recommended disposition. The Motion seeks the entry of summary judgment on the plaintiff's claims based, in part, on his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit. An evidentiary hearing was held before the undersigned on September 5, 2017.

         I. Facts

         In his sworn Complaint, (Docket Item No. 1), Woodhouse alleged numerous violations of his constitutional rights. Specifically, Woodhouse alleged:

1. He has been held in segregation at Red Onion under harsh conditions since 2012;
2. He was denied witnesses in violation of his due process rights at a December 30, 2016, Institutional Classification Authority, (“ICA”), hearing;
3. On January 11, 2017, Unit Manager Duncan came to his cell door to conduct an ICA hearing and told Woodhouse that his security level would be decreased from an “S” for segregation to a Level 6. Duncan told Woodhouse that he would be moved to the step down phase 1 unit. Woodhouse said that he told Duncan that he was at risk of being attacked by Blood gang members, and he requested to be placed in protective custody. Duncan denied this request;
4. On January 15, 2017, Woodhouse told defendant Gallihar that he was at risk of being harmed by Blood gang members if placed in general population. Woodhouse said that he told Gallihar that he needed to be placed in protective custody. He said that Gallihar responded, “you either go to phase 1 or rot is seg[regation];”
5. On January 18, 2017, after Woodhouse filed enemy forms, Counselor Stallard told him “I hope those Bloods kill you in phase 1, since you want to do paperwork;”
6. On January 20, 2017, Woodhouse told Geraldine Baker that the Bloods wanted to kill him, and Baker responded, “I know all about it; I don't give a fuck this is red neck ville;”
7. On January 23, 2017, Woodhouse advised defendant Ingrim that he had been in segregation for eight years and that he risked being harmed by Blood gang members if he was not placed in protective custody. He said Ingrim just walked away;
8. On January 27, 2017, Lt. Kiser and Counselor Sowards came to Woodhouse's cell door and conducted an ICA hearing. Woodhouse was not allowed to call QMHP Trent as a witness. Woodhouse told Kiser and Sowards that he was at risk of being attacked by Blood gang members in general population, and Kiser told him, “I understand that but the decision to send you to step down phase one population came from … Gallihar and I cannot disobey his orders;”
9. On February 3, 2017, another ICA hearing was conducted at Woodhouse's cell door by Lt. Stanley and Sowards. Woodhouse advised them that he was at risk of being attacked by Blood gang members in general population, but Stanley and Sowards recommended that he be placed in step down phase 1. Duncan reviewed and approved of this recommendation;
10. On February 13, 2017, Correctional Officer Miller forced Woodhouse to leave segregation. Miller told Woodhouse, “if you don't move we will stop feeding you;”
11. Woodhouse recognized three Blood gang members housed in the step down phase 1 unit where he was moved on February 13, 2017. The next day, one of the Blood gang members told him “I'm a get the [correctional officer] in the booth to pop your door and I'm going in that cell.” When Stallard came to his cell door, Woodhouse asked Stallard why he had been placed in population when it was documented that he was at risk of attack by Blood gang members. Woodhouse told Stallard that he was going to file a lawsuit, and Stallard replied, “I don't give a fuck about your paperwork, I dare you to try to write it up, you'll never get a response. I might get Swiney to beat [your] ass again if you try to write me up!”
12. On February 24, 2017, Stallard served Woodhouse with a notice of an ICA hearing, and his three requested witnesses were denied; and
13. Swiney and Stallard conducted an ICA hearing at Woodhouse's cell door on February 27, 2017. Swiney denied his request to be placed in protective custody and said, “I don't put niggers on [protective custody].” Swiney also threatened Woodhouse with bodily harm and stated, “We don't do grievances here.”

         In support of their Motion, the defendants filed an Affidavit from J. Messer, the Institutional Ombudsman at Red Onion. (Docket Item No. 33-1) (“Messer Affidavit”). In her affidavit, Messer stated that Operating Procedure, (“OP”), 866.1, Offender Grievance Procedure, is a mechanism for VDOC offenders to resolve complaints, appeal administrative decisions and challenge procedures. Messer said that the administrative process provided corrections officials with a means to assess potential problems, and, if necessary, correct those problems in a timely manner. A copy of OP 866.1 was attached to Messer's Affidavit. (Docket Item No. 33-1 at 7-20.) Under OP 866.1, all issues are grieveable except those pertaining to policies, ...


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