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Jordan v. LaFrance

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 9, 2019

LESTER JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
BARBARA LaFRANCE, Defendant.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MICHAEL P. SHEA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Lester Jordan, commenced this civil rights action asserting a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need while he was incarcerated. He has since discharged from custody. The named defendant, Nurse Barbara LaFrance, moves for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before commencing this action. For the following reasons, the defendant's motion is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(a), Fed. R. Civ. P.; see also Nick's Garage, Inc. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 875 F.3d 107, 113-14 (2d Cir. 2017). “A genuine issue of material fact exists if ‘the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Nick's Garage, 875 F.3d at 113-14 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Which facts are material is determined by the substantive law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “The same standard applies whether summary judgment is granted on the merits or on an affirmative defense ….” Giordano v. Market Am., Inc., 599 F.3d 87, 93 (2d Cir. 2010).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying the admissible evidence it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). He cannot “‘rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation' but ‘must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.'” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., 781 F.3d 42, 34 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must present such evidence as would allow a jury to find in his favor. Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000).

         Although the court is required to read a self-represented “party's papers liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, ” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015), “unsupported allegations do not create a material issue of fact” and do not overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).

         II. Facts[1]

         The plaintiff was admitted to the custody of the Department of Correction at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution on April 27, 2018, as a pretrial detainee. ECF No. 19-7 ¶ 1. On July 18, 2018, he began serving a six-month sentence for violation of probation. Id. ¶ 2. The plaintiff completed his sentence and was discharged from custody on October 23, 2018. Id. ¶ 3. He has not been re-incarcerated. Id. ¶ 4.

         Inmates at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution are housed in the MacDougall building or the Walker building. Id., ¶ 5. Medical staff are assigned to both buildings and medical services are provided in both buildings. Id., ¶ 6. Inmates exhaust their administrative remedies on matters relating to health care by utilizing the Health Services Review (“HSR”), as set forth in Department of Correction Administrative Directive 8.9. Id., ¶ 7. The review is commenced when an inmate files a request on form CN 9602. Id., ¶ 8.

         When an inmate at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution files an HSR on form CN 9602, a designated HSR Coordinator at that facility reviews the request and logs it into the HSR electronic records. The HSR Coordinator then either responds to the request or forwards the request to the appropriate person for a response. Id., ¶ 9. The HSR document is filed in the HSR archive located in the medical unit. Id., ¶ 10. The routine and regular practice of the HSR Coordinators is to enter HSR requests into the electronic log and file the hard copy in the HSR archive. Id., ¶ 11. The electronic HSR log lists all HSR requests filed in the MacDougall and Walker buildings. Id., ¶ 12.

         Nurses Walker and Ostheimer are HSR Coordinators. Id. ¶¶ 13-14. They both have access to the electronic HSR log and the historical archive of HSR requests filed by inmates at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. Id., ¶ 15. Nurse Ostheimer conducted a manual search at the Walker building for any HSR request filed by the plaintiff between April 2018 and October 2018. Id., ¶ 16. Nurse Walker searched the electronic log for any HSR request filed by the plaintiff between April 2018 and October 2018. Id., ¶ 17. Neither located evidence that the plaintiff filed an HSR request while he was confined at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. Id., ¶ 18.

         III. Discussion

         The defendant moves for summary judgment the ground that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before commencing this action.

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires prisoners to exhaust administrative remedies before filing a federal lawsuit relating to prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (“No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.”). This exhaustion requirement applies to all claims regarding ...


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