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Brian Robert Spaude v. Corrections Corporation of America

October 21, 2011

BRIAN ROBERT SPAUDE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, INC., A FOREIGN CORPORATION; CCA WESTERN PROPERTIES, INC., AN IDAHO CORPORATION; PHILIP VALDEZ, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-8, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Currently before the Court in this prisoner civil rights matter is Defendants' Motion To Dismiss. (Dkt. 22.) Plaintiff has responded to the Motion (Dkt. 26), Defendants have submitted a Reply (Dkt. 27), and the matter is now ripe. The parties have consented to a United States Magistrate Judge conducting all proceedings, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 20.)

The Court finds that decisional process would not be aided by oral argument, and it will resolve this matter upon consideration of the parties' written briefing. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). After considering the parties' arguments and the record herein, as explained more fully below, the Court will deny Defendants' Motion.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

At all relevant times, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Idaho Correction Center (ICC), which is a prison that is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) under a contract with the state of Idaho. (Dkt. 1.)

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that from 2005 to 2008 he was an intern for the "Therapeutic Community," a rehabilitative program offered at ICC. (Dkt. 1 at ¶ 13.) According to Plaintiff, TC interns often obtained sensitive information about other inmates during the course of their work, and the interns were housed in a separate wing at ICC because general population inmates viewed them as informants. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Despite ICC's policy of segregating these inmates, Plaintiff claims that on November 17, 2009, correctional officers allowed general population inmates to mix with the segregated inmates in the dining hall during a mealtime. (Id. at ¶ 16.) While Plaintiff was eating, another inmate came up behind him and struck him in the head, shattering his jaw and knocking him unconscious. (Id.) Plaintiff required surgery to repair his jaw and lost twenty-two pounds during his recovery. (Id. at ¶ 21.) He claims that this assault was symptomatic of a broader pattern and practice of deliberate indifference to inmate safety at ICC. (Id. at ¶ 11, a-g.)

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff brings five causes of action: two counts of negligence under state law (for the failure to protect him from the assault (Count I) and for inadequate medical care (Count III)); two counts of gross negligence under state law, based on willful, wanton, or reckless conduct (for the failure to protect him from the assault (Count II) and for inadequate medical care (Count IV)); and one count arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which Plaintiff alleges that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Count V). (Dkt. 1, pp. 7-12.) The state law claims are brought under the Court's supplemental jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss portions of the Complaint on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust the prison's administrative review process as to certain claims before beginning this action. (Dkt. 22.) The matter is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to issue its ruling.

STANDARD OF LAW

1. The Exhaustion Requirement

Because Plaintiff has raised one federal claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and four related state law causes of action, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss implicates the exhaustion standards under both federal and state law.

Specifically, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires pre-complaint exhaustion of administrative remedies for all federal claims brought by prisoners who challenge prison conditions: "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other federal law, until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). "There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court." Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007). This requirement is intended to give "prison officials an opportunity to resolve disputes concerning the exercise of their responsibilities before being haled into court." Id. at 204.

Proper exhaustion is required, meaning that "a prisoner must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal court." Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88 (2006). "The level of detail necessary in a grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary from system to system and claim to claim, but it is the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of proper exhaustion." Jones, 549 U.S. at 218.

Likewise, Idaho statutory law contains a similar requirement that prisoners must exhaust administrative remedies before ...


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