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Clarence D. Schreane v. Ronnie Holt

December 13, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)



Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Blewitt's Report and Recommendation ("R & R") regarding the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Angela Dunbar, Michael Sample, and John McDonald. Magistrate Judge Blewitt recommends that the motion be granted and judgment entered in favor of the Defendants. Because Mr. Schreane failed to exhaust administrative remedies and failed to show actual injury, Magistrate Judge Blewitt's R & R will be adopted.

I. Background

Clarence Schreane is currently an inmate at the United States Penitentiary ("USP") at Coleman, Florida. Between December 14, 2009 and September 27, 2010, he was incarcerated at USP Canaan. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 10 (Doc. 46). The Defendants all work at USP Canaan. Angela Dunbar is the Associate Warden, Michael Sample is a Unit Manager, and John McDonald is a Unit Counselor.

According to Mr. Schreane,*fn1 in May 2010, he filed a grievance against Ms. Dunbar and Mr. Sample. On May 16, 2010, Mr. Schreane was moved to the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"); he remained there until July 18, 2010. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 4. Mr. Schreane says that after his grievance, Mr. McDonald refused to make copies of his legal documents, telling him that Mr. Sample instructed the unit team not to make any copies for him or provide him with free postage stamps. Mr. Schreane states that he complained to Ms. Dunbar about this, explaining that he was indigent and needed stamps to mail his legal documents, but Ms. Dunbar denied his request. He claims he also showed Mr. McDonald proof that he had an imminent court deadline. On June 4 and June 14, 2010, Mr. Schreane received stamps from other inmates. Because the unit team would not make copies for him or provide him with free stamps until July 5, 2010, Mr. Schreane avers that he suffered injuries to his court cases, including being time barred. Additionally, he claims that the staff's refusal to provide him stamps resulted in his inability to exhaust administrative remedies. Defendants dispute these claims and present as evidence a stamp log showing that Mr. Schreane received ten stamps in June of 2010 and ninety-four stamps in July of 2010. Mr. Schreane claims that this stamp log is a forgery.

Mr. Schreane further claims that the USP Canaan mail room staff opened his legal correspondence outside of his presence, even though the mail was clearly marked, "Legal Mail -- Open Only in the Presence of Inmate." Defendants state that the mail did not indicate the specific name of the sender, and thus opening it outside Mr. Schreane's presence did not violate BOP policy. Defs. Ex. A ¶ 7.

Mr. Schreane additionally claims that on May 21, 2010, he requested to use the library, showing Captain Breckon that he had a court deadline. He was not allowed to use the library until a week later, however, and was only allowed to use it four times while he was in the SHU, which did not provide him with sufficient research time. While at the library, he was not given a pen, but instead a "rubber pencil" that made it very difficult to write. He was also not allowed to make photocopies.

Finally, Mr. Schreane claims that Mr. Sample and Mr. McDonald refused to provide him with a memorandum on institutional letterhead verifying that there was a valid reason that his grievances were untimely submitted. He states that Defendants would also purposely delay handing his informal resolution requests so that his filing of a formal grievance would be untimely. Defendants deny these claims and submit evidence that Mr. Schreane filed many grievances during the relevant time period.

Mr. Schreane filed a complaint in the Middle District of Pennsylvania on August 23, 2010, alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. As a remedy, Mr. Schreane sought $500,000 in compensatory damages against each Defendant and an injunction requiring the Defendants to stop violating his constitutional rights. Mr. Schreane's claims against Defendant Ronnie Holt claims were dismissed and his claims for specific monetary damages against the Defendants were stricken from the complaint.*fn2

On January 28, 2011, the remaining Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion was fully briefed by all parties. Magistrate Judge Blewitt filed his R & R on August 15, 2011 and Mr. Schreane responded with objections on August 29, 2011.

II. Standards of Review

A. Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report

Where objections to the magistrate judge's report are filed, the Court must conduct a de novo review of the contested portions of the report, Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c), provided the objections are both timely and specific, Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984). In making its de novo review, the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v. Beard, 829 F. Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Although the review is de novo, the statute permits the Court to rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675-76 (1980); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7; Ball v. United States Parole Comm'n, 849 F. Supp. 328, 330 (M.D. Pa. 1994). Uncontested portions of the report may be reviewed at a standard determined by the ...

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