The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anita B. Brody, District Judge.
Plaintiff filed his pro se complaint on November 7, 1997. On
April 13, 1998, I granted plaintiff's motion for appointment of
counsel. Defendants Vaughn and Murray filed their motion for
summary judgment on September 3, 1999. Plaintiff's response was
filed on October 5, 1999. In plaintiff's response to defendants'
argument that plaintiff had failed to exhaust his available
administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act ("PLRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), plaintiff contended
that he was not required to exhaust his administrative remedies.
Plaintiff argued that the use of the administrative process would
be futile because the grievance procedure could not provide him
with the monetary relief that he seeks in this case.
On February 15, 2000, the Third Circuit issued its opinion in
Nyhuis v. Reno, 204 F.3d 65 (3d Cir. 2000). On March 9, 2000,
because plaintiff's futility argument was rejected in Nyhuis, I
ordered plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be
dismissed for failure to exhaust available administrative
remedies. On March 24, 2000, plaintiff submitted a supplemental
response regarding the exhaustion issue. Defendants filed a reply
on April 6, 2000. In their reply, defendants argue that because
plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies,
plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed. (Defs. Reply at 4, 6)
On April 24, 2000, I held a hearing regarding whether plaintiff
exhausted his administrative remedies, specifically to address
the February 27, 1996 and March 5, 1996 Consolidated Inmate
Grievance System forms ("grievance rejection") that plaintiff
attached to his supplemental response.
Plaintiff was housed at Graterford, on three separate
occasions, in 1994, 1995 and 1996. In March 1994, while
imprisoned at Graterford in general population,*fn3 he was
stabbed six times by several inmates in a hallway corridor.*fn4
As a result of his injuries, plaintiff was hospitalized.
According to plaintiff, the Graterford Program Review Committee
("PRC") subsequently determined that he should be removed from,
and never returned to, the general population at Graterford
because of the danger of another attack on his life. In August or
September 1994, plaintiff was transferred to State Correctional
Institution at Dallas ("Dallas") and subsequently paroled. In
February 1995, he was arrested for a parole violation and housed
at Graterford for
approximately 2-3 weeks, without incident,*fn5 before being
transferred to State Correctional Institution Camp Hill ("Camp
Hill") for classification.
While at Camp Hill, plaintiff signed two Acknowledgment of
Orientation forms in which plaintiff indicated that he did not
need separation from any named inmates at Camp Hill or any other
state institution. (Defs. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. D-5 and Ex. D-6).
According to plaintiff, he signed these forms because he did not
know the names of the inmates from whom he needed to be
separated. In addition, plaintiff believed that his only enemies
were housed at Graterford and because of the 1994 assault he
would not be returned to Graterford. On plaintiff's Diagnostic
Classification Report, he signed his name under the words "no
enemies." (Defs.Mot.Summ. J. Ex. D-4). Plaintiff then left Camp
Hill and returned to Dallas.
On February 8, 1996, plaintiff was moved from Dallas to
Graterford for a parole board hearing, and placed in the general
population on B-Block. Defendant Murray was B-Block Unit Manager.
According to plaintiff, he told Murray about the 1994 assault at
Graterford.*fn6 Murray told plaintiff that he would be
double-locked in this cell until he left Graterford. Plaintiff
did not identify the particular inmates from whom he sought
separation. On February 9, 1996, plaintiff attended his parole
board hearing. Following the hearing, plaintiff discovered that
his cell was no longer double-locked. Plaintiff again told
defendant Murray that he was concerned about being housed in
general population. During this conversation, plaintiff requested
that he be returned to Dallas and until such transfer occurred,
that he be double-locked in his cell or placed in administrative
custody. Plaintiff claims that defendant Murray responded that
plaintiff had been cleared for admittance into the general
population, and there was no need for plaintiff to be placed in
On February 21, 1996, plaintiff was stabbed in the prison law
library by three unknown inmates. Following the incident,
plaintiff was treated for three puncture wounds on the back of
his left shoulder blade. After the attack, plaintiff was
interviewed by prison officials from the security office. He told
them that he had been stabbed at Graterford in 1994. During the
interview, plaintiff alleges that the security officers learned
that plaintiff's custody records were still at Dallas. According
to plaintiff, the security officers told him that he should never
have been housed in general population at Graterford. Following
the stabbing, plaintiff was placed in administrative custody.
After he was released from medical hold, plaintiff returned to
Plaintiff testified at his July 1999 deposition that he did
"not recollect" filing a grievance requesting not to be housed in
general population prior to the February 21, 1996 incident.
(Pearson Dep. at 83). At the April 24, 2000 hearing,("hearing"),
plaintiff testified that on February 9, 1996, he filed a
grievance claiming that he should be removed from general
population and placed in administrative custody. (Tr. 28-29,
45-46, 48, 51). Plaintiff testified that he did not receive
copies of "a lot of the grievances" he filed. (Tr. at 26).*fn7
On a grievance rejection form dated February 27, 1996,
approximately one week after the incident, Mary Ann Williams,
("Williams"), grievance coordinator at Graterford, wrote "Mr.
Pearson, Your custody level is not addressable under the
grievance process. You should inform your counselor and security
of your desire to remain under AC status" (Hearing Ex. B). Robert
S. Bitner, ("Bitner"), Chief Hearing Examiner at the Department
of Corrections, testified that administrative custody is
considered a custody level. (Tr. at 82). On the bottom of a
grievance rejection form dated March 5, 1996, Williams wrote "Mr.
Pearson, You have already filed the same grievance. There is no
need to file another one." (Hearing Ex. B1). Plaintiff testified
that he may have filed a second grievance requesting to be
removed from general population and placed in administrative
custody and in response, he received the March 5, 1996 grievance
rejection. (Tr. at 32). On March 4, 1996, plaintiff filed
Grievance No. 0617-96 requesting that he be returned to Dallas
because he feared for his safety at Graterford. (Defs. Mot. Summ.
J. Ex. D-11; Hearing Ex. C). On March 7, 1996, Williams responded
that plaintiff would remain at Graterford until medical hold was
lifted. (Defs. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. D-11; Hearing Ex. D). Plaintiff
did not appeal this response. Bitner testified, at the April 24,
2000 hearing, that he is responsible for handling all inmate
grievance and misconduct appeals to final review. (Tr. at 71).
Bitner also testified that based on his review of plaintiff's
records, plaintiff did not file to final review a grievance
appeal claiming that he had should have been placed in
administrative custody or that he should have been transferred to
another institution. (Tr. at 81).
On March 5, 1996, plaintiff wrote to defendant Vaughn regarding
the February 21, 1996 stabbing, requesting that Vaughn inform his
family about the incident and that plaintiff be permitted to make
a telephone call to his family. (Defs.Mot.Summ. J. Ex. D-12).
Defendants Vaughn and Murray have moved for summary judgment.
In their motion for summary judgment, defendants argue that: 1)
plaintiff's claims should be dismissed because he failed to
exhaust administrative remedies; 2) the Eleventh Amendment bars
damages against defendants Vaughn and Murray in their official
capacity;*fn8 3) defendants Vaughn and Murray did not ...