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Earls v. Christian

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

May 1, 2018

BILLY EARLS, Plaintiff
v.
C/O CHRISTIAN, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Pamela Meade Sargent, United States Magistrate Judge.

         The pro se plaintiff, Billy Earls, (“Earls”), an inmate incarcerated at United States Penitentiary Lee, (“USP Lee”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 389 (1971), against the defendants, Correctional Officer Christian and Correctional Officer Hamilton. Earls has alleged that the defendants have violated his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by using excessive force against him, allowing other inmates to assault him, failing to provide him with meals and/or providing him meals with feces in them and placing him on the recreation yard without shoes in the winter. This case is before the undersigned upon transfer based on the consent of the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).

         This matter is before the court on the Defendants' Motion To Dismiss, Or In The Alternative Motion For Summary Judgment, (Docket Item No. 25) (“Motion”). Because the defendants have provided the court evidence outside of the pleadings, the court will treat the Motion as a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(d). The Motion seeks the entry of judgment in the defendants' favor based on Earls's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit.

         I. Facts

         In his Complaint, (Docket Item No. 1), which was filed with the court on May 2, 2017, Earls alleged numerous violations of his constitutional rights. Specifically, Earls alleged:

1. On January 7, 2017, defendant Hamilton denied him breakfast and later restrained him and came in his cell and assaulted him and shoved his face into the floor;
2. On January 7, 2017, while escorting him to an observation cell, defendant Hamilton deliberately kept stepping on his ankle restraints, causing the restraints to cut into his ankles;
3. On March 29, 2017, defendant Hamilton denied him breakfast and lunch;
4. On January 8, 2017, he was given a food tray with feces in it;
5. On January 26, 2017, defendant Christian placed him on the recreation yard in the snow without shoes on his feet; and
6. On March 6, 2017, defendant Christian put him in a recreation cage and let two other inmates assault him.

         Earls also checked a box on his Complaint form indicating that he had “presented all grounds for relief raised in this complaint by way of BP-9, BP-10, and BP-11 grievances.” Earls stated that he had been denied relief and that his request for administrative remedies had been impeded. He also stated that he had been denied appeal forms in a timely manner. Earls's Complaint is not a sworn pleading.

         By Verified Statement signed under penalty of perjury, Earls checked a box indicating that: “Prior to filing my civil rights action, I attempted to exhaust my administrative remedies but my grievance was rejected as untimely. I have appealed that determination to the highest level available before filing this action.” Earls attached numerous administrative remedies forms to this Verified Statement. The forms include an Informal Resolution Form No. BL-10-87, dated March 7, 2017, on which Earls wrote: “On 3-06-17 Officer Christian put me in a recreation cage to deliberately get me jumped on. After said incident my property was [taken] out [of] my cell from 104 to be moved with me to 246. I ain't [done] nothing to not have my property I already had.” (Docket Item No. 6 at 6.) Under a section entitled “Relief Requested, ” Earls wrote, “I would like my property, my legal mail, pictures and hygiene that I already had in my cell.” (Docket Item No. 6 at 6.) Earls also has provided a “Request For An Informal Resolution” form listing Informal Resolution No. BL-10-87. This form was signed by J. Baker, SIA, dated March 27, 2017, and stated:

This is in response to your Informal Resolution dated March 7, 2017, in which you have made an allegation of misconduct against staff.
We take allegations of staff misconduct seriously. Due to the nature of your allegations, this has been forwarded to the appropriate department and/or agency for review. Be advised, due to the sensitive nature of your allegations, some aspects of the findings may be non-disclosable.

(Docket Item No. 6 at 7.)

         Earls also provided an Informal Resolution Form No. BL-11-87, dated March 7, 2017, on which Earls wrote: “On 3-05-17 at 10:40 I was assaulted by … Christian [coming] out of cell 103 then he wrote me a bogus incident report as [to] cover himself up. Then they left me in restraints from 10:40 till [sic] 12:00 a.m. midnight this is the 3rd time I've been assaulted by [segregation housing unit] staff.” (Docket Item No. 6 at 8.) Under a section entitled “Relief Requested, ” Earls wrote, “I request camera be reviewed[, ] Correctional Officer Christian be fired and my incident report be expunged.” (Docket Item No. 6 at 8.) Earls also has provided a “Request For An Informal Resolution” form listing Informal Resolution No. BL-11-87. This form was signed by J. Baker, SIA, dated March 27, 2017, and stated:

This is in response to your Informal Resolution dated March 7, 2017, in which you have made an allegation of misconduct against staff.
We take allegations of staff misconduct seriously. Due to the nature of your allegations, this has been forwarded to the appropriate department and/or agency for review. Be advised, due to the sensitive nature of your allegations, some aspects of the findings may be non-disclosable.

(Docket Item No. 6 at 5.)

         Earls also provided a Request For Administrative Remedy form, dated March 10, 2017, and containing Case No. 895799 -F1, on which he wrote:

On 2-01-17 I got assaulted by … Hamilton. [He] came to our cell on A range [quietly] tapped on the window while I was sleep[ing.] [He] then sprayed mace in my face while I was in bed and said I was fighting my cellmate[.] They ordered us to cuff up then while I was cuffed up Officer Hamilton tackled me in shower and repeatedly punched me in my face while I was cuffed and wrote my cellmate inmate Rock up for assaulting me. I filed a B.P. 9 and gave it to Mrs. Hall on 2-27-17[.] She never filed it or gave it to my unit team. I want to press civil and criminal charges & fire Hamilton.

(Docket Item No. 6 at 13.) Someone wrote “Rec. 3/22/17” on this form, but the signature is not legible to the court. Earls also provided a Rejection Notice - Administrative Remedy form, dated March 22, 2017, from the Administrative Remedy Coordinator, Lee USP, addressing “Remedy ID: 895799-F1.” This form stated:

For the reasons listed below, this administrative remedy request is being rejected and ...

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