United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Benjamin Myron Lane Jones, Jennifer Elizabeth Lemmon, Kelly
Suzanne Thompson INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
ORDER DENYING STATE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by Defendants John Safford (“Safford”),
Jeffery King (“King”), Blaine Hurt
(“Hurt”), Walter Peterson
(“Peterson”), and Herbert Duncan
(“Duncan”) (collectively, the “State
Defendants”) (Filing No. 78). After spending more than
three and a half years in administrative segregation at the
Pendleton Correctional Facility (“Pendleton”),
Plaintiff Larry Best, Jr. (“Best”) was moved back
into the general population at the prison, and two weeks
later, he was attacked and seriously injured by other
inmates. Best initiated this lawsuit against the State
Defendants, Corizon Health, Inc. (“Corizon”) and
Paul A. Talbot, M.D. (“Dr. Talbot”) for violating
his Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing
to protect him and having a deliberate indifference toward
his health and safety. The State Defendants seek summary
judgment asserting that Best's claims are barred because
he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before
filing this action. For the following reasons, the Court
denies the State Defendants' Motion for
following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as
required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are
presented in the light most favorable to Best as the
non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d
582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
was an inmate at Pendleton during the time period relevant to
the claims at issue in this action (Filing No. 97-2 at 1).
While in custody at Pendleton, he was moved from the general
prison population into restrictive housing and held in
administrative segregation from December 2011 until July 24,
2015, because of acts and threats of violence against him by
prison inmates who were members of the Brotherhood of the
Aryan Nation (Filing No. 95-13 at 8; Filing No. 97-2 at 1).
Safford was the Unit Team Manager at Pendleton, King was a
prison caseworker and Hurt, Peterson and Duncan were
correctional officers at Pendleton. The State Defendants knew
that Best was subjected to a large number of threats of
violence and acts of violence (Filing No. 95-13 at 12-14;
Filing No. 95-11 at 6-11). However, the State Defendants did
not conduct any investigation about the continued threats
against Best while he was in administrative segregation
(Filing No. 95-13 at 6).
in administrative segregation, Best's life was threatened
many times by an inmate in the presence of Safford (Filing
No. 95-11 at 10-12). In January 2015, Best was assaulted by
an inmate who threw hot liquid with glass shards on him while
he was in his cell (Filing No. 97-2 at 1). Despite the acts
of violence and threats of violence against Best, over his
objection, Best was moved from restrictive housing into the
general prison population on July 24, 2015 (Filing No. 95-11
at 11-14; Filing No. 97-2 at 1).
August 7, 2015, only two weeks after being moved back to the
general prison population, Best was attacked by other
inmates. His attackers used large rocks (which prison
officials had set in front of prison cell houses), placing
the rocks inside socks and then beating Best with them. This
attack occurred while Best was leaving the medical line at
the prison infirmary, which was located in an area that was a
“blind spot” for prison officials and was known
to be a dangerous area. The area was known for
inmate-on-inmate assaults because several attacks had
occurred there. Best sustained severe lacerations and bruises
to his head, face, back, shoulders, arms, right hand and
wrist during the attack. He was bleeding profusely and sought
medical treatment for his injuries. Immediately after the
attack, Best was transferred back to restricted housing.
During the weeks and months following the attack, Best
suffered constant, severe headaches, dizziness, and blurred
vision (Filing No. 97-2 at 2, 6; Filing No. 95-4; Filing No.
95-2; Filing No. 95-1).
August 10, 2015, Best filed two informal grievances related
to the August 7, 2015 assault (Filing No. 95-1; Filing No.
95-2). On August 21 and 28, 2015, Best filed formal
grievances related to the August 7, 2015 assault (Filing No.
95-3; Filing No. 95-4). On September 16, 2015, Best filed
another formal grievance related to the assault (Filing No.
August 28, 2015, Best's formal grievance from August 21,
2015 was returned, stating that the grievance contained
“classification” as a requested form of relief
and there was not enough information to warrant an
investigation. Additional information was requested, but what
additional information was required was not specified (Filing
No. 97-2 at 2, ¶9). Best crossed out the
“classification relief” and resubmitted the form.
Id. at 3, ¶10.
September 1, 2015, Camay Francum (“Francum”), the
prison grievance specialist, returned the two formal
grievances with a single return of grievance form, explaining
that Best's complaints involved a disciplinary hearing
issue or action that was subject to a separate process.
Francum's form also indicated that the complaint
contained multiple issues or events, which should be
separated and submitted on multiple forms. Id. at 3,
¶11. Best was confused as to why his grievances would be
considered disciplinary issues, and he felt threatened by the
suggestion of disciplinary issues. He was unsure how to
proceed, so he submitted a single appeal for the returned
formal grievances on the same day, September 1, 2015.
Id. at 3, ¶¶12-13.
September 3, 2015, Francum sent a short memo to Best. It
stated, “I am returning this grievance appeal back
because your grievance must be accepted, logged and DENIED;
before you can file an Appeal. Please follow these steps
prior to returning.” (Filing No. 95-5.)
September 11, 2015, Best received a response from Assistant
Superintendent Duane Alsip (“Alsip”) regarding
his two informal grievances that had been filed on August 10,
2015 (Filing No. 97-2 at 3, ¶15; Filing No. 95-1; Filing
No. 95-2). Alsip explained, “Your allegations are
unfounded. You can only have one complaint on each
form.” (Filing No. 95-2.) Best disagreed with
Alsip's explanation and resolution by signing the
disagreement section of the form and returning it with a new
formal grievance on September 16, 2015 (Filing No. 95-2;
Filing No. 95-6; Filing No. 97-2 at 4, ¶16).
October 1, 2015, Best's formal grievances from August 28
and September 16, 2015 were returned with the explanation
concerning a disciplinary hearing issue or action and
multiple issues or events (Filing No. 97-2 at 4, ¶17).
The October 1, 2015 return of grievance form for the
September 16, 2015 grievance also indicated, “You are
identified as a grievance abuser. This grievance exceeds the
number of active grievances you are allowed to have in the
system. To proceed with this grievance, you must withdraw at
least one active grievance.” (Filing No. 95-7 at 1.)
requested guidance from prison officials regarding how to
proceed with the grievance process given the unsatisfactory
responses that he had received, but these prison officials
refused to provide any guidance because they said that
policies prohibited them from helping with the grievance
process (Filing No. 95-10 at 6-7; Filing No. 95-16 at 6). On
October 5, 2015, Best resubmitted his August 28 and September
16, 2015 formal grievances to Indiana Department of
Correction (“IDOC”) Counselor Ballenger (Filing
No. 97-2 at 5, ¶21). Best submitted a “request for
interview” form to Francum on ...