The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM CALDWELL, Senior District Judge
Plaintiff Jerry Cole, an inmate formerly confined at the Camp
Hill State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Camp Hill"), Camp Hill,
Pennsylvania,*fn1 filed this pro se action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming numerous SCI-Camp Hill John Doe
defendants violated his Eighth Amendment and Due Process rights
when they assaulted him, and then injected him with an unknown
substance which rendered him incompetent to participate in his
misconduct hearing. Cole also claims that while housed in the
institution's Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") he was forced to
endure unsanitary conditions and, on occasion, denied meals as a
form of punishment. Defendant Moore, the sole named defendant, has filed for
summary judgment based, in part, on Cole's failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies. (Doc. 25). We will evaluate the motion
under the well established standard. See Glanzman v.
Metropolitan Management Corp., 391 F.3d 506, 508 n. 1 (3d Cir.
We will dismiss Cole's claims against defendant Moore due to
his failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and dismiss the
remaining claims against the John Doe as the discovery period in
this action has closed without Cole's amending his complaint to
identify these unknown individuals.
Cole alleges that on April 24, 2003, while housed at his former
facility, SCI-Camp Hill, eight unidentified correctional officers
("CO") used excessive force against him after he was handcuffed
behind his back. The unnamed officers "rammed" Plaintiff's face
into a wall as they transported him to the institution's
Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU"). The officers also allegedly
tightened Cole's handcuffs to the point of causing permanent
damage to his left wrist. Cole claims the identity of his
attackers "may be seen on videotape taken later that day." (Doc.
1). Cole, who describes himself as a "special offender with mental
health deficienc[ies]," was then taken to the infirmary where he
was injected, by unidentified individuals, with an unknown drug.
The medication caused Cole to sleep for four days. On April 28,
2003, while still in the infirmary, Cole was given a misconduct
hearing (Misconduct # A356309) before John Doe Hearing Examiner.
Plaintiff states he was unable to actively participate in this
proceeding, and helpless to summons a specific witness on his
behalf, due to the sedating effect of medication which rendered
him incompetent. (Id.)
Next, Cole alleges that while housed in the RHU between April
28, 2003, and May 10, 2003, CO Moore and "RHU officers often
denied me food." (Id.) "These officers" verbally baited Cole
prompting him "to yell bad things to them in response." (Id.)
As punishment, officers would skip feeding him, alleging Cole
refused to comply with RHU feeding procedures. After Cole
complained to his psychiatrist, this problem stopped. (Id.)
Cole also claims that his RHU cell, which he shared with another
inmate, did not have a working toilet.
Defendant Moore contends that Cole never filed an institutional
grievance against him for refusing to serve him meals and thus
has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, precluding him
from filing the present action. Defendant Moore submits portions of Cole's deposition in which Plaintiff states
he never filed a grievance concerning CO Moore's allegedly
withholding meals from him. (Doc. 26, Appendix to Defendant
Moore's Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit 1, p. 78). Moore
submits his own declaration in which he affirms that he has never
worked in SCI-Camp Hill's RHU and denies ever withholding meals
from Cole in the RHU or elsewhere. (Doc. 26, Appendix to
Defendant Moore's Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit 2).
Additionally, Moore argues that even if the Court were to assume
that he denied Cole two meals (as alleged by Cole in his
deposition) (Doc. 26, Exhibit 1, p. 73), such a finding would not
constitute an Eighth Amendment violation. Finally, Moore notes
that the unnamed John Doe defendants are entitled to dismissal as
they have not been served with the complaint within the time
frame dictated by Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m).
Cole opposes defendant Moore's motion on the following grounds:
(1) Defendant Moore did not submit a complete copy of Cole's
December 13, 2004, deposition to the Court; and (2) grievance
forms were not available on his cellblock but he nonetheless
tried to exhaust his administrative remedies by writing directly
to various Department of Corrections officials (see Docs.
31-32). III. Relevant Procedural History.
Cole initiated this action on June 4, 2004. Defendant Moore
answered the Complaint on September 2, 2004, and sought allowance
to take Cole's deposition. (Docs. 16-17). After permission was
granted, no further activity was docketed in the case until a May
2, 2005, Order setting a discovery deadline of 60 days after the
Order and a dispositive-motions deadline of 30 days after the
close of discovery. (Doc. 24). Pursuant to Middle District Local
Rule 26.4, discovery proceedings in this case closed on or around
March 2, 2005.*fn2 See M.D. Local Rule 26.4 Discovery
Proceedings, Closing of. Defendant Moore filed his motion for
summary judgment on July 19, 2005. (Doc. 25). IV. Discussion.
A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies with Respect to
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), exhaustion of
administrative remedies is required for all actions concerning
prison conditions brought under federal law. See
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 227 (3d Cir. 2004).
This "exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about
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,
122 S.Ct. 983, 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 12, 26 (2002). A prisoner must
exhaust all available administrative remedies before initiating a
federal lawsuit. Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 738,
121 S.Ct. 1819, 1824, 149 L.Ed.2d 958 (2001). The PLRA "completely
precludes a futility exception to its mandatory exhaustion
requirement." Nyhuis v. Reno, 204 F.3d 65, 71 (3d Cir. 2000).
Additionally, the PLRA "require[s] `proper' exhaustion, meaning
that the inmate must follow the procedural requirements of the
prison grievance system." Lock v. Nash, 2005 WL 2465249, at *1
(3d. Cir. Oct. 6, 2005) (citing Spruill, 372 F.3d. at 228,
231). A prisoner's failure to follow the procedural requirements
of the administrative remedy process bars the prisoner from
bringing a claim in federal court unless equitable considerations warrant review of the claim. Spruill,
372 F.3d at 227-32. "[I]t is beyond the power of [any] court . . .
to excuse compliance with the exhaustion requirement." Nyhuis
v. Reno, 204 F.3d 65, 73 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting Beeson v.
Fishkill Corr. Facility, 28 F.Supp.2d 884, 894-95 (S.D.N.Y.
The failure to exhaust available administrative remedies is an
affirmative defense. Ray v. Kertes, 285 F.3d 287 (3d Cir.
2002). As such, it must be pleaded and proven by the Defendants.
Brown v. Croak, 312 F.3d 109, 111 (3d Cir. 2002).
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") has an
Inmate Grievance System which permits any inmate to seek review
of problems that may arise during the course of confinement.
37 Pa. Code § 93.9(a) (West 2003); see also www.cor.state.pa.us,
DC-ADM 804, Inmate Grievance System Policy. After an attempt to
resolve any problems informally, an inmate may submit a written
grievance to the prison Grievance Coordinator for initial review.
An inmate may appeal the decision of the Grievance Coordinator to
the Superintendent of the institution, and can finally appeal to
the Secretary of the ...