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Anderson v. Oahu Community Correctional Center

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 28, 2019

VERNARD DIONNE ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
OAHU COMMUNITY CORRECTIONAL CENTER, D. PILI, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Darrell Pili (Pili or Defendant) moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff Vernard Dionne Anderson's (Anderson or Plaintiff) sole remaining claim of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Defendant moves on the ground that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies related to the above-mentioned claim. However, because the evidence reflects that no further administrative remedies were available to Plaintiff, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Court gleans the relevant factual background with respect to the issue presented-exhaustion or the lack thereof-from the parties' concise statements of fact and evidence filed in connection therewith.

         An Inmate Grievance Program exists for inmates incarcerated at correctional facilities operated by the Department of Public Safety of the State of Hawai‘i (“the DPS”). DPS Corr. Admin. Policy & Procedures, Policy No. COR. 12.03 § 4.0.1 (eff. July 1, 2015), Dkt. No. 40-2. The purpose of the Inmate Grievance Program, or “IGP, ” is to allow an inmate a process to address complaints relating to any aspect of the inmate's conditions of confinement. Id. § 1.0. Monetary compensation, however, is not an appropriate resolution for an inmate grievance. Id. § 11.0.

         Under the IGP, the first level of review of an inmate grievance is to a “Section Supervisor, the next level for appeal is the Warden/Branch/Core Program Administrator and the final review level is the Division Administrator (DA).” Id. § 8.0.3(d). In other words, the IGP ordinarily consists of a three-step process. In submitting a grievance, an inmate must, inter alia, obtain “Form PSD 8215” and legibly complete the same, which includes clearly stating the complaint. Id. § 8.0.3.

         The grievance file for Anderson contains the following documents related to events involving Pili.[1] First, a “Notice of Report of Misconduct and Hearing, ” dated March 21, 2018 (“Misconduct Report”). Dkt. No. 40-3 at 1. Second, a “Form PSD 8215, ” with Control No. 413085, dated April 2, 2018 (“Grievance 413085”). Id. at 2. Third, a hand-written note that appears to be signed by Anderson dated April 2, 2018. Id. at 3. Fourth, a “Form PSD 8215, ” with Control No. 413512, dated May 13, 2018, containing a resolution dated May 17, 2018 (“Grievance 413512”). Id. at 4. Fifth (and last), a “Confidential - Return Notice, ” referencing Grievance 413512, dated May 17, 2018 (“Return Notice”). Id. at 5. On the Return Notice, boxes are marked indicating that the “subject” of Grievance 413512 is not allowed by policy and “[m]onetary compensation is not an option for resolution.” Id. Both of the foregoing marked boxes can be found under a heading reading that: “The following rejections for non-compliance to policy may not be appealed.” Id.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On July 5, 2018, Anderson filed a Complaint against Pili, the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC), and OCCC's “Warden-Chief of Security, ” alleging violations of his civil rights while incarcerated. Dkt. No. 1. After Anderson was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, Dkt. No. 3, this Court dismissed the Complaint in part with leave to amend, Dkt. No. 4. Specifically, the Court dismissed with prejudice all claims against OCCC and the defendants in their official capacities. The Court dismissed without prejudice and with leave to amend any due process claim against the Warden-Chief of Security. The Court allowed to proceed a claim against Pili for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. Thereafter, Anderson filed a document stating that he wished to proceed only with his claim against Pili. Dkt. No. 6.

         On January 30, 2019, Pili moved for summary judgment on Anderson's excessive force claim. Dkt. No. 39. At the same time, Pili filed a concise statement of facts. Dkt. No. 40. In his opening memorandum, Pili argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on the ground that Anderson failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to the excessive force claim. See generally Dkt. No. 39-1. More specifically, Pili argues that Anderson's grievance file does not contain a third-step grievance regarding the excessive force claim, and thus, Anderson failed to exhaust DPS' three-step IGP. Id. at 4-6.

         On May 28, 2019, Anderson filed a “Declaration in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, ” Dkt. No. 51, which the Court construes as Anderson's response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment and Defendant's concise statement of facts. On June 17, 2019, Pili filed a reply in support of the motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 52.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a party is entitled to summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” When the moving party bears the burden of proof, he “must come forward with evidence which would entitle [him] to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted….” Houghton v. South, 965 F.2d 1532, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992). This means, therefore, that the moving party “bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to his affirmative defense.” Id. at 1537. ...


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