The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caldwell
Plaintiff John Carter, an inmate at the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Camp Hill"), Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, filed this civil-rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he was assaulted by staff on June 3, 2005, while housed in the prison's Special Management Unit ("SMU"). He further alleges he was denied adequate clothing, housing and medical care after the assault. (Doc. 1, Compl.). Named as defendants are the following SCI-Camp Hill employees, Lt. Klaus, and correctional officers, Huber, Kotula, Snyder, Britton, Houser, Lee and Pelter.
Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, based solely on Carter's alleged failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Carter responds that he has complied with the exhaustion requirement because under DC-ADM 001 he reported his allegations of abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") Office of Professional Responsibility.
We will evaluate Defendants' summary-judgment motion under the well-established standard. See Glanzman v. Metropolitan Management Corp., 391 F.3d 506, 508 n.1 (3d Cir. 2004). We agree with Plaintiff's position and will therefore deny the motion.
The following facts are taken from the record and are undisputed. At all times relevant to this action, Carter was housed at SCI-Camp Hill. (Doc. 30-2, Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("SMF"), SMF at ¶ 1). Carter alleges he was assaulted by the named defendants on June 3, 2005, while housed in SCI-Camp Hill's SMU. (Doc. 1, Compl.).
The DOC has an "Inmate Abuse Allegation Monitoring" policy, DC-ADM 001, (doc. 37-5, Pl.'s Ex. D), expressing the principle that an inmate should "not [be] subjected to corporal or unusual punishment, or personal abuse or injury." (Id., Part V, "Policy")(boldface and italics in original)(footnote omitted). In part, "Abuse" is defined in the policy as "[c]onduct by an employee . . . that involves "the use of excessive force upon an inmate" but which excludes "conditions of confinement." (DC-ADM 001, Part IV, "Definitions," Subpart A). An inmate can report abuse in three ways:
1. report it verbally or in writing to any staff member;
2. file a grievance in accordance with Department policy DC-ADM 804, "Inmate Grievance System;" or
3. report it in writing to the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). (Id., Part VI, "Procedures," subpart D).
DC-ADM 804, the "Inmate Grievance System" Policy is a four-level administrative remedy process designed to address inmate problems that may arise during the course of confinement.
37 Pa. Code § 93.9(a); see also www.cor.state.pa.us. The inmate must first attempt to resolve the problem informally, he may then submit a written grievance to the prison Grievance Coordinator for initial review, follow that with an appeal to the Superintendent of the institution, and then finally take an appeal to the DOC Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals. DC-ADM 804 specifically provides that: "A grievance dealing with allegations of abuse shall be handled in accordance with Department policy DCADM 001, "Inmate Abuse Allegation Monitoring Process." (DC-ADM 804, Part VI, "Procedures," Subpart B, "Initial review" ¶ 10).
Plaintiff invoked both policies. In mid-June 2005, he and his mother wrote to Superintendent Kelchner, claiming that SCI-Camp Hill SMU staff had assaulted him. Carter's allegations were referred to SCI-Camp Hill's Security Office for investigation. (Doc. 37-6, Carter's Decl., ¶¶ 3-4; see also Doc. 30-3, Exhibit Taggart-2, p. 21, Official Inmate Grievance Initial Review Response). After the Security Office rejected Plaintiff's claim, OPR reviewed it. In September 2005, the Director of OPR wrote to Plaintiff: "The Security Office conducted their investigation, which included an interview of [Plaintiff] on July 21, 2005 and a result of this interview, interview with the alleged officers, and an investigation of the other facts." (Doc. 30-3, Exhibit Taggart-2, p. 21, Official Inmate Grievance ...