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Scholefield v. Penobscot County Jail

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 30, 2018

ALAN SCHOLEFIELD, Plaintiff
v.
PENOBSCOT COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants

          RECOMMENDED DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         In this action, Plaintiff Alan Scholefield alleges that Defendants have not properly treated his depression or provided appropriate access to a CPAP machine. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) In his amended complaint, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant William Gardner, a corrections officer, mistreated him after learning that Plaintiff filed this action. (Amended Complaint, ECF No. 19.)

         The matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 48.) Through the motion, Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies before he filed this action. Plaintiff did not file a response to the motion.

         Following a review of Defendants' motion and the record, I recommend the Court grant the motion, and dismiss Plaintiff's complaint without prejudice.

         Facts

         The following facts are derived from Defendants' uncontroverted summary judgment statement of material facts. (“SMF, ” ECF No. 49.)

         The Penobscot County Jail maintains a grievance policy that provides that an inmate may initiate a grievance for an alleged violation of civil, constitutional, or statutory rights; an alleged criminal or prohibited act by a staff member; to address unsafe or unsanitary living conditions in jail; to resolve a chronic condition within the Jail that contradicts the Maine State Jail Standards; or to appeal a previous grievance decision. (Id. ¶ 4, Penobscot County Sheriff's Office Inmate Grievances Policy, ECF No. 49-2.)

         The grievance procedure provides that an inmate must first submit a written grievance form to the Corrections Officer, Assistant Shift Supervisor, or Shift Supervisor, who would then investigate the matter and attempt to resolve the grievance. (SMF ¶ 5; Policy §§ A.1 - A.3.) The investigation may involve a referral “to the appropriate supervisory staff member who will investigate and attempt to resolve the grievance at their level.” (Policy § A.3.) When the investigation is complete, jail administration reviews the result, and notes whether the grievance has been resolved. (Id. §§ A.5, A.6.)

         If the inmate is dissatisfied with the result, the inmate may appeal the grievance decision by submitting a new grievance, which is forwarded with the original grievance to the next level of command for review. (SMF ¶ 6; Policy § A.7.) In the event the inmate is dissatisfied with the result, to proceed with the grievance, the inmate must submit the grievance to the Maine Department of Corrections. (SMF ¶ 7; Policy § B.1.) The Jail maintains all grievances filed by an inmate in the inmate's file. (SMF ¶ 8; Affidavit of Captain Richard Clukey ¶ 8, ECF No. 49-1.)

         As of the date of Defendant's motion, Plaintiff's inmate file contained nine grievances. (SMF ¶¶ 10 - 18.) Most of the grievances concerned matters that are not before the Court in this action.[1] Four grievances are material to Defendants' motion: two involved mental health treatment, one concerned a CPAP machine, and one related to Defendant Gardner's conduct.

         Grievances regarding mental health treatment

         On June 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed a grievance (ECF No. 49-3) related to his request for certain medication to treat depression. A clinician answered the grievance after meeting with Plaintiff. (SMF ¶ 10.) A lieutenant then reviewed the submission and found the grievance to be unfounded, thereby resolving the level one grievance. (ECF No. 49-3.)

         On July 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed another grievance (ECF No. 49-7) regarding his “numerous” requests for assistance from Mental Health. As the result of the grievance, Plaintiff was seen by Mental Health on July 6, 2017, and a plan was made to present his case to Dr. Allen Shaffer on July 7, 2017. (SMF ¶ 14.) A lieutenant found the grievance unfounded.

         The record reveals no further action by Plaintiff on the two grievances. Plaintiff has not filed any other grievances ...


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