United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Osborn (“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Osborn”),
currently incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution (“MacDougall”) in Suffield,
Connecticut, has sued various MacDougall employees under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for their failure to protect him in
violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of
“cruel and unusual punishments.” U.S. Const.
amend. VIII. Mr. Osborn seeks declaratory relief and an award
of damages from the MacDougall employees who Mr. Osborn
contends acted with deliberate indifference to the physical
violence he suffered at the hands of his cellmate.
Ruben Burgos (“Lieutenant Burgos”), Lieutenant
Christopher Williams (“Lieutenant Williams”),
Lieutenant Jason Beebe (“Lieutenant Beebe”),
Clinical Social Worker James Castro (“Mr.
Castro”), Correctional Officer Lyndon Standard
(“Officer Standard”), John Doe, Jane Doe 1, and
Jane Doe 2 (collectively “Defendants”) have moved
for summary judgment, arguing that Mr. Osborn failed to
exhaust all available administrative remedies before filing
this lawsuit, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Osborn, it all started when he was transferred to Cell N-29
of MacDougall's N-Pod on October 3, 2013. Pl.'s SMF
at 6. “Right off the bat” his cellmate, John
Hightower, allegedly exhibited a “hostile
attitude” toward Osborn, id.; Def.'s Br.,
Ex. C, Osborn Dep. at 18:11-12, attempting to intimidate Mr.
Osborn physically by threatening to rape and murder him,
Pl.'s SMF at 6.
Osborn voiced his concerns about Mr. Hightower to various
members of MacDougall's staff. Mr. Osborn met with Nurse
Tawanna Furtick in the medical unit. Pl.'s SMF at 3;
Defs.' SMF ¶ 8. Osborn complained to Nurse Furtick:
“They got me housed with this maniac.” Pl.'s
SMF at 8.
at the medical unit, Mr. Osborn also spoke with Lieutenant
Burgos about his concerns with Mr. Hightower. Although
Lieutenant Burgos maintains that during their conversation
Mr. Osborn informed him that Mr. Osborn merely complained
that Mr. Hightower “talk[ed] way too much” and
Mr. Osborn “wanted to be left alone, ” Defs.'
Br., Ex. F, Burgos Aff. ¶ 6, ECF No. 50-7, Mr. Osborn
alleges that he informed Lieutenant Bargos that Mr. Hightower
was threatening to do bodily harm to Mr. Osborn. Pl.'s
SMF at 8. Mr. Osborn allegedly told Lieutenant Bargos:
“[Hightower] said he was going to kill me. He said he
was going to throw me underneath the toilet and bang my head
up against the toilet, and that no one will find out about
it.” Osborn Dep. at 25:3-9, Defs.' Br., Ex. C, ECF
October 11, 2013, Mr. Osborn spoke with Licensed Social
Worker Deborah Eddinger (then Rothbaum) about “issues
with [his] current cellie.” Id. In her
treatment notes, Ms. Eddinger wrote: “The captain
reports [Mr. Osborn and Mr. Hightower] will be separated on
second shift.” Pl.'s Opp., Ex. B, Eddinger Dep. at
27:16-20, ECF No. 53-3; Eddinger Dep., Ex. 8(B), Osborn
Clinical Rec., ECF No. 53-3, at 57. Nothing allegedly came of
the captain's assurance. See Osborn Aff. ¶
4, ECF No. 53-12 (“I told them Hightower was telling me
he was going to hit my head on the toilet, going to kill me,
dispose of my body where nobody would ever find it. I was
told in Debbie [Eddinger]'s officer I would be
transferred and I trusted them.”).
early on October 13, 2013, Mr. Osborn claims Mr. Hightower
violently assaulted him, and claims Defendants, knowing the
danger Mr. Osborn's cellmate posed to him, failed to
protect him. Pl.'s SMF at 2; Defs.' SMF ¶ 4.
Between 1:30 a.m. and 1:55 a.m. that morning, Mr. Osborn
contends that Mr. Hightower punched Mr. Osborn in the head.
Pl.'s SMF at 7. Mr. Osborn also alleges that Mr.
Hightower grabbed and twisted Mr. Osborn's foot, breaking
his toe. Id.
Plaintiff's Mental State
Osborn acknowledges suffering from “a mental
condition.” Osborn Aff. ¶ 6. On November 14, 2013,
a MacDougall medical professional with whom Mr. Osborn met
noted: “Inmate did well off meds for a couple of months
but then decompensated . . . . ” Defs.' Br., Ex. E,
CMHC JDH Psychiatric Note, ECF No. 50-6 at 8. She noted that,
upon restarting medication therapy, Mr. Osborn
“appear[ed] to be back at his baseline.”
Id.; see generally Id. at 12-16 (including
notes from medical care providers Mr. Osborn saw between
November 8, 2013, and November 15, 2013).
MacDougall's Grievance Procedures
inmate at a Connecticut Department of Correction facility who
wishes to file a grievance must follow the procedure
established in Connecticut Department of Correction
Administrative Directive 9.6 (“Directive 9.6”).
See generally Conn. Dep't of Corr. Admin.
Directive 9.6, effective August 15, 2013, Defs.' Br., Ex.
A, ECF No. 50-2. “All matters subject to the
Commissioner's authority . . . are grievable.”
Id. § 6(B).
Directive 9.6, administrative review generally occurs in
three steps. First, an inmate must seek to resolve his or her
complaint informally by depositing an Inmate Request Form (CN
9601) in a designated collection box. Id. §
6(A). If the inmate is dissatisfied with the response to his
or her Inmate Request Form or does not receive a response
within fifteen days, id., the inmate may proceed to
the second step, which is termed “Level One
Review.” Id. §§ 6(C), 6(I). To
initiate Level One Review, an inmate completes the Inmate
Administrative Remedy Form (CN 9602). Id. §
point, the inmate is required to provide evidence that he or
she attempted to informally resolve his or her grievance by
attaching the Inmate Request Form (CN 9601) to CN 9602.
Id. The inmate also has the option of submitting CN
9602 without attaching CN 9601 and providing a “valid
reason” why he or she could not obtain the form.
Id. In the Administrative Directive, the Department
of Correction indicates that not receiving a “timely
response” to an inmate request would be a “valid
reason” for not attaching the CN 9601 form.
Id. Level One Review is undertaken by the Unit
Administrator, who must respond to the grievance in writing
within thirty days. Id. § 6(I).
inmate may proceed to the third step, Level Two Review, if he
or she disagrees with the Unit Administrator's judgment
or does not receive a timely response. Id.
Generally, Level Two Review takes place before a District
Administrator and is the final stage of appeal. Id.
§ K. Level Three appeals are restricted to challenges to
department policy or the integrity of the grievance
procedure, or to appeals of Level Two grievances to which the
District Administrator has failed to respond in a timely
manner. See id. § (6)(L).
occasions, Mr. Osborn used MacDougall's grievance
procedure to challenge aspects of the October 13, 2013,
incident with Mr. Hightower. Defs.' SMF ¶ 6. Mr.
Osborn filed these grievances on March 1, 2014, March 7,
2014, March 7, 2014, and March 14, 2014. Id. ¶
7. Mr. Osborn maintains that he also made a written complaint
to the “Captain/Unit Manager” on October 11,