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Guilfoil v. G.R. Johnson

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 10, 2017

DALE A. GUILFOIL, Plaintiff,
v.
G.R. JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

         The plaintiff, Dale A. Guilfoil ("Guilfoil"), an inmate at the Sussex Correctional Institution ("SCI"), Georgetown, Delaware, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 2, 12.)[2] Guilfoil was a pretrial detainee when he commenced this action. He appears pro se and was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 6.) Pending before the court are the parties' motions for summary judgment. (D.I. 23, 27.)

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The complaint alleges violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution and that Guilfoil's treatment as a pretrial detainee is worse than that of sentenced inmate, amounts to punishment, and violates his constitutional rights. (D.I. 2.) On December 10, 2015, the court screened the complaint and allowed Guilfoil to proceed with claims against the defendants Warden G.R. Johnson ("Johnson") and Assistant Warden Linda Valentino ("Valentino") that: (1) Guilfoil was forced to sleep on the floor of his cell for several days before he was moved to the bottom bunk; (2) his cell did not have a sink or toilet; (3) recreation is restricted for various reasons; (4) detainees are locked in their cell (two to three men to a cell) for 22 ½ hours per day, seven days a week; (5) thermostats are set uncomfortably low; (6) during the winter, pretrial detainees are not issued warm clothing for outside recreation; (7) pretrial detainees are not provided an area to walk; (8) he was told not to look out his cell window; and (9) the only items SCI pretrial detainees may purchase from the commissary are writing materials and cosmetics.[3] Guilfoil was also allowed to proceed with a retaliation claim against the defendant Dave Duperron ("Duperron").

         Guilfoil did not submit grievances on the following issues: (1) he was forced to sleep on the floor of his cell for several days before he was moved to the bottom bunk; (2) his cell did not have a sink or toilet; (3) thermostats are set uncomfortably low; (4) during the winter, pretrial detainees are not issued warm clothing for outside recreation; (5) pretrial detainees are not provided an area to walk; and (6) he was told not to look out his cell window. (D.I. 18, D.I. 20.)

         Guilfoil submitted a grievance dated April 1, 2015, asking that commissary food items be sold in the pretrial units. (D.I. 24, ex. B.) The grievance was upheld, but then forwarded to the warden to revisit the issue. (Id.) Guilfoil appealed and, on May 27, 2016, the Bureau Chief denied the grievance. (Id.) He also submitted a grievance on April 1, 2015 regarding the amount of recreation time allowed and complaining of the habit of locking in detentioners. (D.I. 20.) The record is silent on the outcome of this grievance.[4]

         According to Johnson, SCI Units 1 and 3 house pretrial detainees. (D.I. 25.) The units are alike in that both units allow a similar amount of time for meals and recreation. (Id.) In both units there may be changes in recreation times due to the fluctuation of the number of inmates in either unit at any given time. (Id.) Quarter recreation is performed when there is a need to strive for safe recreation for pretrial detainees and staff during increases in detainee population. (Id.) Unit 3 differs in that the cells have sinks and toilets, unlike the cells in Unit 1. (Id.) As a result, inmates in Unit 1 who wish to use the bathroom must ask officers permission to be released from their cells. (Id.)

         According to Johnson, the pretrial detainee population is less predictable than the sentenced inmate population because pretrial detainees may be incarcerated for just a couple of days, once they post bond or bail, or they may be incarcerated until trial. (Id.) Conversely, sentenced inmates have a conviction date with fairly certain release dates. (Id.) In 1997, the variability in population led the warden to streamline items available for pretrial detainees. The changes included: (1) removing televisions and radios as items for purchase for pretrial units because pretrial detainees have access to a common area where those privilege are provided; and (2) removing food items for purchase by pretrial detainees due to the transient nature of the pretrial population in an effort to curtail a pest control problem in the pretrial detainee units and to preclude problems with some pretrial detainees who used "stronghold" tactics to obtain commissary from weaker pretrial detainees. (Id.) According to Johnson, the 1997 policy changes that remain in effect today were not implemented as a means or punishment, and the policy is not enforced today as a means to punish pretrial detainees. (Id.) The policy acts to streamline the pretrial processes. (Id.)

         With regard to retaliation, Guilfoil states that he was housed in Unit 1 for nine months without any problems and, when he submitted a grievance expressing his dissatisfaction with the treatment he received, he was moved. (D.I. 19, D.I. 21 at ¶ 3.) According to Duperron, he does not recall why Guilfoil was transferred from Unit 1 to Unit 3 in April 2015. (D.I. 26.) Duperron states that inmates are transferred frequently for various reasons and he was not involved in the decision to transfer Guilfoil. (Id.) Duperron's involvement was limited to ensuring that Guilfoil was transferred by his orders. (Id.) Duperron did not have access to Guilfoil's grievances, he was not involved in Guilfoil's grievances, and was not aware of the particulars of any grievances Guilfoil filed as a pretrial detainee. (Id.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The court shall grant summary judgment only if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of proving that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 n.10 (1986). When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). If the moving party has demonstrated an absence of material fact, the nonmoving party then "must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). However, a party opposing summary judgment "must present more than just 'bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions' to show the existence of a genuine issue." Podobnik v. United States Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). If the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. The same standards and burdens apply on cross-motions for summary judgment. See Appelmans v. City of Philadelphia, 826 F.2d 214, 216 (3d Cir. 1987).

         The defendants move for summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) as to most claims, the plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as is required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"); (2) the plaintiff fails to state an equal protection claim; (3) the plaintiff has not articulated a retaliation claim; and (4) the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. (D.I. 24.) Guilfoil moves for summary judgment on the grounds that he will be requesting that certain SCI logs and grievances be subpoenaed for trial. (D.I. 27.)

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         The defendants move for summary judgment on the grounds that Guilfoil did not exhaust his administrative remedies as is required under the PLRA. Guilfoil did not raise an opposition to the ...


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