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Davis v. D.C. Dep't of Corrections

June 11, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge


In this action brought pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff alleges that he was sexually harassed, denied medical and dental treatment, physically assaulted and retaliated against during his 18-month confinement at the District of Columbia Jail ("Jail") and the District's Correctional Treatment Facility ("CTF").*fn1 He names as defendants the District of Columbia Department of Corrections ("DOC"), DOC Director Devon Brown, DOC Acting Assistant Administrator Debra Miller, CTF Warden John Caulfield, Director of Unity Health Care Inc. Diana Lapp, and several other employees of either DOC or CTF.*fn2 Caulfield and Lapp move separately to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Dkt. Nos. 15, 30] and DOC, Brown and Miller move collectively to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) or for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 [Dkt. No. 17]. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the entire record, the Court will grant summary judgment to Caufield, grant Lapp's motion to dismiss and deny DOC, Brown and Miller's ("the District of Columbia defendants") motion for summary judgment.


Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Jail on March 21, 2007, and transferred to CTF on May 21, 2007. Compl. at 7. While at the Jail, plaintiff allegedly was "victimized by the sexual misconduct of [] one Sgt. Stevenson." Id. While at CTF, plaintiff alleges that he was denied medical treatment "for the deadly MRSA infection (about 6-13-07) and the pain & suffering of such due to a very poor and unventilated CTF," id., "stabbed & scalded with hot water by another inmate due to staff at C.T.F. labeling me a snitch . . . (incident took place on 6-23-07)," and removed from a drug program "because of my not wanting to participate in some [C]hristian practices." Id. Plaintiff also claims that "for over (1) year," his grievances "on all these went unanswered, overlooked or simply ignored. . . ." Id. at 8. Plaintiff filed this civil action on November 26, 2008, while confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.


A court may dismiss a complaint on the ground that it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if, assuming the alleged facts to be true and drawing all inferences in the plaintiff's favor, it appears that the plaintiff can prove no facts "consistent with the allegations in the complaint" to support the alleged violation. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544, 563 (2007); see Harris v. Ladner, 127 F.3d 1121, 1123 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do[.]" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Because the Court will be relying on matters outside the pleadings to resolve Caulfield's and the District of Columbia defendants' motions, it must treat those motions as seeking summary judgment. See Rule 12(d), Fed. R. Civ. P.; Order of February 10, 2009 (advising plaintiff about this possibility and how to respond to such a motion). Summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings . . . and any affidavits show that that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Rule 56(c), Fed. R. Civ. P. Material facts are those that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. . . . " Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When considering a summary judgment motion, "the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255; see also Washington Post Co. v. United States Dep't of Health and Human Services, 865 F.2d 320, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1989). The non-moving party's opposition, however, must consist of more than mere unsupported allegations or denials and must be supported by affidavits or other competent evidence setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Rule 56(e), Fed. R. Civ. P.; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).

The non-moving party is "required to provide evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to find" in his favor. Laningham v. United States Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242 (D.C. Cir. 1987). If the non-movant's evidence is "merely colorable" or "not significantly probative," summary judgment may be granted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 249-50. To defeat summary judgment, then, plaintiff must have more than "a scintilla of evidence to support his claims." Freedman v. MCI Telecommunications Corp., 255 F.3d 840, 845 (D.C. Cir. 2001);accord Ben-Kotel v. Howard University, 319 F.3d 532, 536 (D.C. Cir. 2003).


Caulfield and the District of Columbia defendants claim that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). In relevant part, the PLRA provides that:

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 to any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The exhaustion requirement of Section 1997e(a) is mandatory and "applies to all prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences." Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 520 (2002). Section 1997e(a) "afford[s] corrections officials time and opportunity to address complaints internally before allowing the initiation of a federal case," and, where possible, to "satisfy the inmate, thereby obviating the need for litigation." Id. at 524-25. A prisoner must complete the administrative process "regardless of the relief offered through administrative avenues." Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 740-41 (2001). Thus, a prisoner may file a civil action concerning conditions of confinement under federal law only after he has exhausted his administrative remedies. Jackson v. District of Columbia, 254 F.3d 262, 269 (D.C. Cir. 2001); Sample v. Lappin, 424 F. Supp.2d 187, 190-91 (D.D.C. 2006).

A. A Genuine Issue Exists on Plaintiff's Exhaustion of the DOC Claim

Plaintiff alleges that he was sexually assaulted by a DOC ...

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