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Allen v. Tucker

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 15, 2014

RODNEY B. ALLEN, Plaintiff,
v.
M. TUCKER (Pueblo Unit Manager); BATULIS (Pueblo Unit Counselor); McAVOY (Norwood Unit Manager); G. SANTINI, M.D. (Staff Physician); A. ALVERADO (Assistant Health Administrator); S. HENDRICKS (Registered Nurse); ROGERS (Registered Nurse), Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MARCIA S. KRIEGER, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (#36), Plaintiff Rodney Allen's Objection (#34), [1] and the Defendants' Reply (#38).

I. ISSUE PRESENTED

Mr. Allen is a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") at the Federal Correctional Institution in Florence, Colorado ("FCI-Florence"). In his pro se Amended Complaint (#9), Mr. Allen alleges that the Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide proper medical treatment.

The Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that Mr. Allen failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to him as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).

II. MATERIAL FACTS

Based upon the evidence submitted by the parties, which the Court construes most favorably to Mr. Allen for purposes of this motion, the Court finds the following facts.

The BOP has a four-tiered administrative remedy process, which an inmate must complete prior to seeking judicial review. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.10-19. The first tier requires an inmate to seek informal resolution of his grievance with the staff of the institution in which he is incarcerated. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.13. The second tier requires the inmate to submit a written Administrative Remedy Request to the institution's warden. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.14. The warden has twenty days to respond. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.18. If dissatisfied with the warden's response, an inmate may appeal to the Regional Director. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(a). An inmate may also seek review directly from the Regional Director, and bypass informal resolution or review from the warden, if "the issue is sensitive and the inmate's safety or well-being would be placed in danger." See 28 C.F.R. § 542.14(d)(1). The Regional Director has thirty days to respond to the inmate's appeal. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.18. The fourth and final tier of administrative review requires the inmate to appeal the Regional Director's determination to the General Counsel in the Central Office. See id. The Central Office has forty days to respond to the inmate's appeal. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.18. If an inmate does not receive a response within the time allotted for the relevant tier in the process, "the inmate may consider the absence of a response to be a denial at that level." See 28 C.F.R. § 542.18.

Typically, the initial complaint in the process is assigned a unique Remedy ID Number, which will follow the complaint throughout the appeal process. The Remedy ID also contains a suffix which includes a letter and number to identify the level of review. The letter included in the suffix identifies where the review occurred: "F" corresponds to review at the institutional level, "R" corresponds to review by the Regional Office, and "A" corresponds to review at the Central Office. The number in the suffix identifies how many times the complaint has been reviewed at that particular level.

Mr. Allen submitted an Informal Resolution Form followed by at least seven written requests to the warden, the Regional Director, and Central Office. First, Mr. Allen submitted a Request for Administrative Remedy ("Request") to the warden on December 17, 2012. The warden's office received the Request on January 10, 2013 and assigned it Remedy ID number 718457-F1. The warden issued a response denying Mr. Allen's Request on January 30, 2013. The denial was delivered to Mr. Allen on February 23, 2013.

On February 11, 2013, before receiving the warden's denial of his Request, Mr. Allen submitted a Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal to the Regional Office ("First Regional Appeal"). The Regional Office received it on March 1, 2013 and assigned it a new Remedy ID number, 725315-R1. On March 7, 2013, the Regional Office rejected Mr. Allen's First Regional Appeal on the grounds that the "issue [Mr. Allen] raises is not sensitive." The warden's office received the Regional Office's rejection on March 18, 2013.

On March 25, 2013, Mr. Allen submitted a Central Office Administrative Remedy Appeal ("First Central Office Appeal"). The Central Office received Mr. Allen's appeal on April 3, 2013. Although Mr. Allen stated that he was appealing Remedy ID number 725315-R1, the Central Office labeled his appeal as Remedy ID number 718457-A1. On April 5, 2013, the Central Office rejected Mr. Allen's First Central Office Appeal because he submitted his request to the wrong level and used the improper form. It directed Mr. Allen to resubmit his complaint to the Regional Director on the appropriate form. The warden's office received the rejection on June 1, 2013.

In response to the denial of his First Central Office Appeal, Mr. Allen submitted another Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal ("Second Regional Appeal") on June 12, 2013. After receiving Mr. Allen's Second Regional Appeal, Remedy ID number 718457-R2, on June 17, 2013, the Regional Office rejected it on June 18, 2013 because it was untimely and submitted on the wrong form. The warden's office received the rejection on June 25, 2013.

Mr. Allen appealed the rejection of his Second Regional Appeal to the Central Office. The Central Office received Mr. Allen's Second Central Office Appeal, Remedy ID number 718457-A2, on July 9, 2013, rejected it on July 10, ...


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