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Chandler v. Amsberry

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 28, 2014

DAVID GEORGE CHANDLER, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIGITTE AMSBERRY, Acting Superintendent Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution; TOM LEMENS, Assistant Superintendent of Security Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, Defendants.

Diane C. Cady, Of Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Shannon M. Vincent, Assistant Attorney General, and Andrew Hallman, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, 1162 Court Street NE, Salem, OR 97301. Of Attorneys for Defendants.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

MICHAEL H. SIMON, District Judge.

Plaintiff David Chandler ("Chandler" or "Plaintiff") is a convicted sex offender confined by the Oregon Department of Corrections ("ODOC") at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution ("EOCI"). Chandler brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Brigitte Amsberry and Tom Lemens, in their official capacities, [1] ("Defendants")[2] are deliberately indifferent to the risk of harm faced by Chandler when he intermingles with inmates from the general prison population, particularly in the dining hall. Chandler alleges that ODOC dining hall and protective custody policies and procedures are constitutionally deficient. Chandler seeks only equitable relief.

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court held a bench trial on February 6, 2014. Having weighed and evaluated all of the evidence in the same manner that it would instruct a jury to do and having fully considered the legal arguments of counsel, the Court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a). For the reasons that follow, the Court finds in favor of Defendants.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a), the Court finds the following facts by a preponderance of the evidence.

A. Stipulated Facts

The parties agreed to certain facts in their Pretrial Order (ECF 215), although the parties disputed the relevancy of some of those facts. The Court finds the following agreed-upon facts to be true and relevant:

1. Chandler is an inmate currently housed at EOCI within ODOC.

2. Chandler has been primarily housed at EOCI since March 2003, except for three weeks spent at Snake River Correctional Institution for mental health evaluation. Chandler was convicted of sex offense crimes.

3. Before being housed at EOCI, Chandler was held in the Clackamas County jail and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility ("CCCF") for intake.

4. For the most part, Chandler has been assigned to the Mental Health Unit ("MHU") (also referred to as F-2) at EOCI, which is an open, dormitory-style housing unit. The MHU has a capacity of 80 inmates and currently is full. Chandler's assignment to the MHU is not guaranteed for the length of his sentence.

5. Richard Coursey served as Superintendent of EOCI since 2008. Coursey received and responded to inmate communications and grievances by Chandler regarding Chandler's allegations that EOCI's dining hall is unsafe and overcrowded.

6. Richard McGraw currently serves as the Superintendent of General Services and supervises the plant and food services as well as the inmate work program. His prior positions at EOCI include officer, Sergeant, Captain, Transitional Services Manager, and Assistant Superintendent of Security. McGraw responded to communications and grievances by Chandler regarding Chandler's allegations that EOCI's dining hall is unsafe and overcrowded.

7. ODOC does not house inmates based on their crimes of conviction. Inmates are evaluated to determine the appropriate level of supervision needed based on their behavior in relationship to their environment. This is referred to as an inmate's "custody level."

8. Inmates at EOCI can request protective custody (also referred to as administrative segregation), but they must identify the specific risk or harm (and/or person(s) who have caused harm or threatened harm) in order to prevent a housing assignment in the same unit or cell as inmate(s) posing a risk of harm.

9. A grant of protective custody at EOCI is preceded by a number of administrative requirements.

10. Chandler requested protective custody from EOCI officials, but never identified any specific risk of harm or any specific person(s) who caused him harm or threatened him.

11. ODOC offered to transfer Chandler to another institution but he refused.

12. In the spring of 2005, Chandler reported to mental health staff that he had been assaulted on the MHU by another inmate who grabbed Chandler by the throat and slapped him, called him "rape-o" and told Chandler not to disrespect him. Chandler experienced temporary pain, but did not require medical treatment.

13. Apart from the alleged slap in 2005, Chandler has never been assaulted by another inmate while in ODOC custody.

14. Chandler has never been explicitly extorted by another inmate while in ODOC custody.

15. Chandler feels safer on the MHU than any other location at EOCI, but believes he is exposed to a significant risk of harassment, threats and assault whenever he comes ...


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