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Yahtues v. Dionne

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

September 21, 2018

Malachi I. Yahtues
v.
David Dionne and Willie Scurry

          Malachi I. Yahtues, pro se

          John A. Curran, Esq. Peter A. Meyer, Esq. Sarah S. Murdough, Esq.

          ORDER

          Steven J. McAuliffe United States District Judge.

         Before the court in this case are the following cross-motions for summary judgment filed by defendants, Hillsborough County Department of Corrections (“HCDC”) Superintendent David Dionne and HCDC Capt. Willie Scurry, and plaintiff Malachi Yahtues:

• “County Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment: ‘PLRA' Lack of Exhaustion and Qualified Immunity (Doc. No. 130);
• “Plaintiff's Partially Assented-to Motion to County Defendant's [sic] Preliminary Motion for Summary Judgment: ‘PLRA' Lack of Exhaustion and Qualified Immunity and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment” (Doc. No. 138); and
• “Defendants David Dionne's & Willie Scurry's Motion for Summary Judgment, Per FRCP 56” (Doc. No. 180).[1]

         Background

         I. Procedural History - Claims Against HCDC Defendants

         Yahtues, presently an inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison, brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, alleging that the defendants violated his federal Constitutional and statutory rights and his rights under state law, when he was a pretrial detainee at the HCDC from June 25, 2014 to August 1, 2016. After conducting the preliminary review of plaintiff's initial complaint (Doc. Nos. 1, 12) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 1915A(a) and LR 4.3(d)(2), the court found that Yahtues had asserted claims alleging violations of:

(1) [Yahtues's] Fourteenth Amendment right to adequate medical and mental health care; (2) his Fourteenth Amendment right to sanitary and safe conditions of confinement; (3) his First, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment right to meaningful access to the courts, including access to legal resources; (4) his First Amendment right of association; (5) his First Amendment rights, and rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act [RLUIPA], to religious items, materials, and a religious diet; and (6) his rights under state law implicated by the facts and events that form[ed] the basis of the federal claims asserted in the complaint.

         June 21, 2016 Order (Doc. No. 13), at 2 (footnote omitted). The court directed service of process upon Drs. Matthew J. Masewic and Christopher Braga (the physicians who contracted with the HCDC to provide medical care to its inmates) and the HCDC defendants, namely, Dionne, Scurry, (former) HCDC Corrections Officer Matthew Ritvo-Cabezas, and HCDC Health Services Administrator Denise Ryan (now Hartley), “without prejudice to defendants' filing of a motion to dismiss on any proper basis.” Id.

         Yahtues filed an amended complaint on October 7, 2016 (Doc. No. 73). The magistrate judge conducted a preliminary review of the amended complaint and determined that Yahtues had asserted “fifteen numbered claims” in that amended complaint, and named the same defendants identified in the first preliminary review, with the exception of Dr. Braga.[2] Feb. 24, 2017 Order (Doc. No. 96), at 1. Concluding that one or more cognizable claims for relief were stated in that amended complaint, the court deemed that pleading to be the operative complaint and directed defendants to answer or otherwise respond, “without prejudice to defendants' ability to file a motion to dismiss on any proper basis.” Id.

         After holding a preliminary pretrial conference, the magistrate judge issued a scheduling order (Doc. No. 124) in this case, providing separate deadlines for two types of summary judgment motions, setting a November 15, 2017 deadline for the filing of summary judgment motions based on exhaustion and immunity, and a May 21, 2018 deadline for the filing of other summary judgment motions. See June 2, 2017 Order (Doc. No. 124), at 2.

         On November 15, 2017, the HCDC defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 130), requesting the following relief:

1. That “this honorable court conduct the preliminary review not applied earlier in this case.” Nov. 15, 2017 Cty. Defs.' Prelim. Motion for Summ. J. (Doc. No. 130), at 1;
2. That the court grant summary judgment in the HCDC defendants' favor as to the plaintiff's “mental health based deliberate indifference theorem [sic]” and the claims asserted against defendant Ritvo-Cabezas, on the basis that plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to those claims, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (“PLRA”), id.; and
3. That the court find “the defendants are entitled to the application and protection of qualified immunity, ” as to each of the claims asserted against them, id.

         On December 21, 2017, Yahtues filed a cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 138).[3] In that motion, Yahtues sought summary judgment in his favor on the claims in this case, and asked the court to allow him to voluntarily dismiss certain claims and defendants from this action, as follows:

Plaintiff request [sic] the dismissal of the following claims:
a) Against defendant Ryan and [Ritvo-Cabezas];
b) Concerning poor ventilation;
c) In reference to typing up legal materials via typewriter;
d) In respects [sic] to stressful living conditions;
e) In respects [sic] to lies and bad conduct by officer's [sic];
f) In respects [sic] to back ailments; g) In respects [sic] to serving the plaintiff repetitive meals;
h) In respects [sic] to the [HCDC] giving out information to inmates for visiting schedule;
i) In respects [sic] to threats by officer's [sic].

         Dec. 21, 2017 Pltf.'s Obj. to Defs.' Motion for Summ. J. and Pltf.'s Cross-Motion for ...


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