United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JOSE I. GONZALEZ, Plaintiff,
FENTON, et. al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.
Jose I. Gonzalez is a prisoner in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC). Gonzalez brought
this lawsuit after he was assaulted by his cellmate. He
alleges that Unit Managers Davis and Blanchard were
deliberately indifferent to his safety when they failed to
prevent the assault despite knowing of his cellmate's
violent reputation. Davis and Blanchard are the only
remaining defendants in this case following the Court's
prior dismissal of two other defendants by means of its
initial review order. See Gonzalez v. Fenton, 2017
WL 1371251, at *1 (D. Conn. 2017). For the reasons set forth
below, I will grant the unopposed motion of Davis and
Blanchard for summary judgment on the ground that Gonzalez
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.
following facts are based on the parties' submissions and
are viewed in the light most favorable to Gonzalez as the
non-moving party. In 2016, Gonzalez was incarcerated at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. His cellmate had
a reputation as a “celly killer” because he was
alleged to have killed someone in California. Doc. #1 at 2
(¶ 10). On March 27, 2016, Gonzalez sent an Inmate
Request Form to Davis saying that he was not getting along
with his cellmate and to request that his cellmate be moved.
Id. at 1 (¶ 7); Doc. #1-1. On April 5, 2016,
Gonzalez sent a nearly identical request to Blanchard.
See Docs. #1 at 2 (¶ 8); #1-2.
April 8, 2016, Correctional Officer Fenton responded to
“verbal aggression” coming from Gonzalez's
cell. Doc. #1 at 2 (¶ 11). He saw that Gonzalez was
injured and that his cellmate was holding a weapon. After
five minutes, Fenton called for assistance. Ibid.
Gonzalez's cellmate later admitted to assaulting Gonzalez
and was placed in the restrictive housing unit. Medical staff
treated Gonzalez for his injuries, which included scratches
on the side of his face and the top of his head. Doc. #1-4 at
26, 2016, Gonzalez wrote to the warden stating that he had
seen his former cellmate loitering in the hallway of the
correctional facility on April 29, 2016. Doc. #1-5. He
questioned why the former cellmate had not been transferred
to another facility. Ibid.
alleges in his complaint that he “immediately started
writing grievances and trying to exhaust my remedies but was
not provided with and [sic] way to do so for a [sic] inmate
who does not speak or read English adequately enough to
follow procedure.” Doc. #1 at 2 (¶ 13). Gonzalez
further alleges that there are “still no remedies for
Spanish speaking inmates.” Ibid.
to the record, Gonzalez first filed a grievance regarding the
incident of April 8, 2016, about eight months later on
December 7, 2016. Doc. #20-3 at 15-16. He filed a second,
identical grievance that same day. Id. at 19-20.
Both of the December 7 grievances were rejected because
Gonzalez failed to file the grievances within 30 days of the
incident as required by the DOC's Administrative
Directive. Id. at 14, 18.
than appeal the denial, Gonzalez filed an additional
grievance regarding the April 8 incident on December 16,
2016. Id. at 25-26. This grievance was also rejected
because of the failure to file it within the required time
period. Id. at 27. Gonzalez filed a second grievance
on December 16 that did not reference the April 8 incident
but stated that he wanted the warden to be reprimanded for
“failing [sic] to act in regards to my personal
safety.” Id. at 38. This grievance was
returned without disposition. Id. at 37. Gonzalez
filed a level 2 appeal of the denial of his first December 16
grievance that addressed the April 8 incident. Id.
at 29. The appeal was denied because of Gonzalez's
failure to file his grievance within the required 30-day
limit. Ibid. Gonzalez did not file any further
appeals. Gonzalez then filed another grievance on January 13,
2017, regarding the April 8 incident. Id. at 35-36.
This grievance was rejected as repetitive. Id. at
34. Gonzalez did not appeal this decision but eventually
filed this lawsuit. The remaining defendants Davis and
Blanchard now move for summary judgment.
principles governing the Court's review of a motion for
summary judgment are well established. Summary judgment may
be granted only if “the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). I must view the facts in the light most favorable to
the party who opposes the motion for summary judgment and
then decide if those facts would be enough-if eventually
proved at trial-to allow a reasonable jury to decide the case
in favor of the opposing party. My role at summary judgment
is not to judge the credibility of witnesses or to resolve
close contested issues but solely to decide if there are
enough facts that remain in dispute to warrant a trial.
See generally Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866
(2014) (per curiam); Pollard v. N.Y. Methodist
Hosp., 861 F.3d 374, 378 (2d Cir. 2017).
has not filed any objection or opposition to defendants'
motion for summary judgment. In Jackson v. Federal
Express, 766 F.3d 189 (2d Cir. 2014), the Second Circuit
instructed that “when a party, whether pro se
or counseled, fails to respond to an opponent's motion
for summary judgment, a district court may not enter a
default judgment, ” but instead “must examine the
movant's statement of undisputed facts and the
[proffered] record support and determine whether the movant
is entitled to summary judgment.” Id. at 197.
of administrative remedies
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because
Gonzalez failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) states that “no
action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions . .
. by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other
correctional facility until such administrative remedies as
are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a). This exhaustion requirement applies to all claims
regarding “prison life, whether they involve general
circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege
excessive force or some other wrong.” Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). Exhaustion of all
available administrative remedies must occur regardless of
whether the administrative procedures provide the relief that
the inmate seeks. See Booth v. ...