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Lugo v. Orden

July 23, 2008

DANIEL LUGO, PLAINTIFF
v.
D. VAN ORDEN, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER, EASTERN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY, Senior United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER

In this civil rights complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendant, Corrections Officer Van Orden, retaliated against plaintiff for the exercise of his First Amendment rights. (Dkt. No. 1). Plaintiff seeks substantial monetary relief. Presently before the court is the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 12). Defendant opposes plaintiff's motion and has cross-moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 15). Plaintiff has filed a "Reply." (Dkt. No. 18). For the following reasons, this court finds that there are questions of fact, preventing summary judgment for either party.

DISCUSSION

1. Facts

Plaintiff alleges that at 6:46 p.m. on June 11, 2006, while he was incarcerated in Eastern Correctional Facility, he was let out of his cell to go to the law library. Compl. at 3. Plaintiff states that when he got to the front of the gallery, he overheard another inmate ask the defendant why the inmate was not let out of his cell earlier with the "auditorium run." Id. Plaintiff claims that the defendant told the other inmate that defendant had "pulled the break lever" earlier to let the inmates out who were going to the auditorium. When the other inmate told defendant that the inmate's cell did not open, plaintiff got involved in the conversation and stated that his cell had not opened either. Id. at 4.

Plaintiff states that after this conversation, and before he left the company to go to the law library, he saw Officer Santiago*fn1 and asked Officer Santiago if the inmates going to the law library were still let out at the same time as those going to the auditorium. Id. Officer Santiago stated that the two sets of inmates were let out at the same time. Plaintiff complained that his cell was not opened, nor did he hear that the cells were being opened for the "auditorium run." Id. Plaintiff then went to the law library. Id.

Plaintiff claims that while he was working in the law library, the officer on duty in the law library told plaintiff that he had to return to his housing unit. Id. When plaintiff arrived at the unit, defendant told plaintiff that he was being "locked-up," and when plaintiff asked the reason for his confinement, defendant stated "Movement." Id. Plaintiff claims that when he asked defendant's name, he would not give it to him and instead told plaintiff to "get it off the ticket." Id. Plaintiff was served with a misbehavior report the following day, charging him with violating Rule 109.12 (Movement) and Rule 107.20 (Lying/False Statements). Id. Plaintiff claims that defendant attributed a statement to plaintiff that he never made. The charges were both dismissed after a disciplinary hearing held on June 16, 2006. Id.

Plaintiff claims that defendant Van Orden wrote the misbehavior report in retaliation for the exercise of plaintiff's first amendment right to ask Officer Santiago about the opening of the cells on June 11, 2006.

2. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment may be granted when the moving party carries its burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. FED. R. CIV. P. 56; Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). "Ambiguities or inferences to be drawn from the facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment motion." Id. However, when the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must do more than "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). At that point, the nonmoving party must move forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.

In this case, both parties have moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 12, 15). Thus, both parties claim that the facts are undisputed and that judgment may be rendered as a matter of law.

3. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a) requires an inmate to exhaust all available administrative remedies prior to bringing a federal action. This requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes and regardless of the subject matter of the claim. See e.g. Giano v. Goord, 380 F.3d 670, 675-76 (2d Cir. 2004). In this case, plaintiff did bring a grievance and appealed the grievance to the highest level available. Defendant does not claim that plaintiff failed to bring a grievance or did not appeal the grievance to the highest level, rather, defendant argues that plaintiff did not properly exhaust his administrative remedies because he did not mention the word "retaliation" in his grievance. Def. Mem. of Law at 7 (Dkt. No. 15-6).

In Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 127 S.Ct. 910, 922-23 (2007), the Supreme Court held that in order to properly exhaust an inmate's administrative remedies, he must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable state rules. Id. (citing Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81 (2006)). In Woodford, the Court held that "proper" exhaustion means that the inmate must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a prerequisite to bringing suit in federal court. 548 U.S. at 90-103. However, the Court in Jones held that proper exhaustion does not necessarily include a requirement that an inmate name all the defendants, unless the state procedure required it. In Jones, ...


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