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Santos v. Delaney

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 24, 2014

ANGEL LUIS SANTOS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DELANEY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Hon. Petrese B. Tucker, C. J.

Presently before the Court is Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 78), Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition (Doc. 83), Defendant’s Reply in Support (Doc. 88), and Plaintiff’s Sur-Reply (Doc. 91). Upon consideration of the parties’ motions with briefs and exhibits, and for the reasons set forth below, Defendant’s Motion will be denied.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

From June 2007 to September 2007, Angel Luis Santos (“Plaintiff” or “Santos”) was a pretrial detainee at the Philadelphia Detention Center (“PDC”). During this time, John Delaney (“Defendant” or “Delaney”) was the Warden at PDC. On July 13, 2007, Santos was climbing into the top-level bunk in his cell when he slipped and fell. Santos alleges that during this fall, he became stuck and hung upside down for a substantial period of time, causing injury to his right leg. (Santos Decl. ¶¶ 12-13.) Following this injury, Santos was taken to Frankford Hospital, examined, and returned to the PDC. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.)

A. Inadequate Medical Care

The parties agree on little beyond these few basic facts. Santos alleges that, upon his return to the PDC, his leg was swollen and painful, which was exacerbated by his again being placed in a cell with a top-level bunk. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) Santos subsequently submitted a number of grievances, complaints, and sick call requests to Delaney’s staff asking for treatment of his injury. (Santos Decl. ¶ 17; id. at Exs. A-C, E-G, L-M, Q-U, W-Z.) Nonetheless, Santos avows all he received for two weeks was ice, which did not alleviate his swelling and pain. (Id. ¶ 17.) Santos maintains it was his understanding that this lack of treatment was caused by the failure of PDC staff to obtain records from Frankford Hospital in a timely fashion. (Id. ¶ 18.)

The parties agree that Santos was ultimately taken to Frankford Hospital again.[2] This time, Santos was prescribed medication, given crutches and a leg immobilizer, and returned to the PDC. (Id. ¶ 19.) Santos alleges that he continued to be in pain, and a member of the PDC’s medical staff prescribed him a sock or leg wrap in order to improve blood flow and reduce swelling. However, Santos asserts that no one ever provided him with a sock or leg wrap, despite his repeated requests. (Id. ¶ 20; id. at Exs. C, T, U.) Additionally, notwithstanding Santos’ requests, no other medical staff or specialists were called in to examine his leg. (Id. ¶ 21.) Santos claims he continues to feel pain and swelling in his leg to this day. (Id. ¶ 22.) Delaney denies these allegations.

The parties agree that subsequently, from August 2 to August 8, 2007, Santos was on a hunger strike. Santos contends his hunger strike was to protest the conditions of his confinement including, but not limited to, the alleged lack of adequate medical treatment cited above. (Id. ¶ 23.) The parties further agree that Santos was subsequently returned from PDC’s medical unit to a cell on B-Block, Cell 209 (“Cell B-209”).

B. Incarceration in a Cell without Ventilation

The parties disagree on what transpired next. Santos avers that Cell B-209 was extremely hot upon his return, as the temperature that day either approached or exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit. (Id. ¶¶ 25-26.) Santos asserts he attempted to open the window (the only source of ventilation in the cell), only to learn that the window was inoperable. (Id. ¶ 27.) Santos claims he brought the condition of the window to the attention of the guard who brought him to the cell, but the guard did not respond or attempt to remedy the issue. (Id. ¶ 28.) Santos further alleges that, for the remainder of the day, he attempted to inform any guard who passed within earshot that his cell was extremely hot and that the heat was causing him physical distress, but no one responded. (Id. ¶ 29.) Santos maintains that his distress was so obvious that other inmates in cells located near him also requested that the guards intervene to assist him. Allegedly, none did. (Id. ¶ 30.) Santos avers he was so sickened by the heat that he needed to lay on the floor of his cell to ward off nausea and dizziness. (Id. ¶ 31.) Santos claims he was left to lie in a puddle of water on the floor of his cell for the entire night of August 8, 2010 and most the next day. (Id. ¶ 32.) Delaney denies all of these allegations. The parties agree that Santos was eventually removed from Cell B-209 around 5 pm on August 9, 2007. The parties also agree that Santos was returned to Cell B-209 on August 17, 2007. During the interim, the window in Cell B-209 had been repaired. (Id. ¶ 34.)

C. Excessive Use of Force and Destruction of Property by PDC Staff

However, Santos further alleges that, after being moved from Cell B-209 on August 9, 2007 he was placed in Cell B-206, which he was told was used for inmates in administrative segregation. (Id. ¶ 35.) Santos was not in administrative segregation at the time, nor did he have any charges pending against him. (Id. ¶ 36; Slipakoff Decl., Ex. D.) Further, at the time he was moved to Cell B-206, Santos was directed to change into an orange jumpsuit, the color jumpsuit of an inmate in administrative segregation. (Santos Decl. ¶ 37.) Santos alleges he told the guard that he was not supposed to be in administrative segregation and asked the guard to confirm the same with his supervisor, which the guard promised to do. (Id. ¶ 38.) Nonetheless, for the rest of the week, Santos claims he was treated as if he had been placed in administrative segregation, and thereby denied privileges to which he was entitled such as commissary, phone usage, and outside recreation time. (Id. ¶ 39.) During this time, Santos asserts he asked any guards he could locate to speak with their supervisor to confirm this mistake; none did, and no supervisor ever appeared. (Id.)

Santos claims he was let out of his cell on August 16, 2007, but then immediately told to return because he was supposedly in administrative segregation and could not participate in commissary. (Id. ¶ 40.) At this time Santos informed the two guards on the cell block, corrections officers Bradley and Brown, that he had been requesting a supervisor for the entire week to come and speak with him about his unwarranted placement in administrative segregation, and had been ignored that entire time. (Id.) Bradley allegedly ignored Santos’s request and told him to get back in his cell or he would “hit [Santos] with this hot s***, ” i.e., pepper spray. (Id.) After Santos again requested to speak with a supervisor, Brown allegedly grabbed Santos’ crutches out from under him, while Bradley took off Santos’ glasses, threw them on the floor and sprayed Santos in the face with pepper spray. (Id.) Bradley also allegedly used his fingers to rub the pepper spray in Santos’ eyes. (Id.) Both guards then allegedly pushed Santos down the stairs and then returned him to his cell, where he was shoved into his bunk. (Id.) These actions allegedly caused additional injury to Santos’ already injured leg. Santos also claims his eyeglasses were irreparably broken during this encounter, and he suffered nightmares for several weeks thereafter. (Id. ¶ 42-43.) Conversely, according to a disciplinary report filed by CO Bradley, Santos refused several orders to return to his cell, became violent, and raised his crutches as he moved toward CO Brown. (Def.’s Reply Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 3.) Thus, CO Bradley avers Santos was pepper sprayed because of these actions. (Id.)

D. Physical Assault by Another Inmate at the Direction of PDC Staff

As previously stated, on August 17, 2007 Santos was moved back to Cell B-209. (Id. ¶ 44.) Santos alleges that at this time, one of the guards (whom Santos believes to have been Brown) escorted another inmate housed on B-Block to Santos’ cell. (Id. ¶ 45.) Brown allegedly removed the inmate’s handcuffs, and the inmate approached Santos’ cell and asked to speak with Santos. (Id.) Once Santos approached the door, the inmate allegedly punched Santos in the face through the window in the cell door. (Id.) After doing so, the inmate allegedly said “that’s for my boy, ” which Santos understood to be a reference to either Brown (who brought the inmate to Santos’ cell) or Bradley (who released the inmate from his cell). (Id.) After allegedly punching Santos in the face in view of Brown, the inmate was re-handcuffed by Brown and escorted off of B-Block by Bradley. (Id. ¶ 46.) Even though Santos notified a Sergeant Adams of the incident, he does not believe that this inmate was ever subjected to any disciplinary action. (Id. ¶ 47.) Delaney offers no response or counterstatement of facts regarding this alleged physical assault of Santos by another inmate at the direction of PDC staff.

E. Plaintiff’s Grievances

During Santos’ incarceration at the PDC, he submitted numerous written grievances and complaints to the PDC staff concerning the above-described conditions of confinement and alleged mistreatment at the hands of PDC guards. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 11; id. at Exs. A-P, T-W, Y, AA-BB.) The grievance procedure in the Philadelphia Prison System is not in dispute. Pursuant to established procedure, a grievance is submitted by an inmate into a locked box on the cellblock. (Delaney Dep. 10:14-18; Christmas Dep. 48:8-9.) The grievance is then picked up by the lieutenant or one of the officers assigned to the Deputy Warden of Administration, and brought to the Deputy Warden’s office for review. (Delaney Dep. 10:24-11:1-2, 11:12-20.) Assuming the grievance did not contain offensive language or cover multiple topics, the grievance would be accepted and entered into the Lock & Track system for tracking and resolution. (Id. at 12:9-22; Christmas Dep. 38:17-22.) The Deputy Warden then assigns the grievance to the proper department for resolution. (Delaney Dep. 12:23-24-13:1-3.) Within 30 days, the department tasked with responding to the grievance reports its resolution to the Deputy Warden for review. (Id. at 13:7-12; Christmas Dep. 49:19-23.) The Deputy Warden then gives his or her own statement regarding the resolution of the grievance, and sends the resolution to the Warden for review. (Id. 49:21-23.) The Warden reviews the grievance resolution to ensure that the resolution is proper, and, if so, signs off on it. (Delaney Dep. 14:1-4.) Finally, the resolution is logged in the Lock & Track system, and the inmate is called into the Warden’s office to discuss the resolution of his grievance and sign paperwork documenting the same. (Id. at 13:17-21.) If the inmate disagrees with the grievance resolution, he can appeal the decision to the Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Prison System and, ultimately, the Commissioner. (Id. at 14:8-13.)

All grievances submitted according to this procedure and accepted by the PDC are to be resolved according to the PDC’s grievance resolution procedures. (Christmas Dep. 47:12-16; Delaney Dep. 26:18-23; Powers Dep. 108:41-5, 134:10-16.) This is true not only for grievances submitted on official grievance forms, but also “grievable issues” identified on other forms (such as Requests to Staff). (Christmas Dep. 97:9-19; Delaney Dep. 21:8-21.)

Accordingly, Santos avers that each of the grievances and Requests to Staff attached to his Declaration (23 total) were submitted to the PDC staff through the procedure noted above. (Santos Decl. ¶ 5.) Santos maintains that none of these grievances or Requests to Staff raising grievable issues was returned to him for revision by PDC staff. (Id. ¶ 6); therefore, Santos argues, all of them were subject to the PDC’s grievance resolution ...


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