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Hoffman v. Peters

United States District Court, D. Oregon

September 16, 2019


          Christopher Roy Hoffman Pro Se Plaintiff

          Ellen Rosenblum Attorney General Michael R. Washington Senior Assistant Attorney General OREGON DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Attorneys for Defendants

          OPINION & ORDER


         Pro Se Plaintiff Christopher Roy Hoffman brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Collette Peters, Judy Gilmore, Jason Bell, Joshua Patterson, Greg Wilson, Joseph Godek, Mike McElroy, Matthew Lyons, Jim Moore, David Platt, Robert Jones, Albert Nasby, and Wendy Blevins. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights when Defendants did not provide him with a shower for over 48 hours after exposure to OC spray. Plaintiff and Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the reasons below, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion and grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motion.


         Plaintiff entered the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”) on August 6, 2015, and was housed at Snake River Correctional Institution (“SRCI”) from September 2, 2015 to August 9, 2017. Blevins Decl. ¶ 3, ECF 40. At the time of the events at issue in this case, Defendants Patterson, Wilson, Godek, McElroy, Lyons, Moore, Platt, Jones, Nasby, and Blevins were all correctional officers employed at SRCI. Am. Compl. at 2, ECF 19. Defendants Gilmore and Bell were both assistant superintendents at SRCI in charge of supervision of the segregated housing unit, and Defendant Peters was the director of ODOC. Id. at 3.

         On July 26, 2016, at about 12:30pm, Plaintiff was one of approximately 35 inmates involved in a dining room riot at SRCI. First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 1 at 1, ECF 34. Correctional staff responded to the incident and deployed oleoresin capsicum (“OC” or “pepper”) spray to stop the fight. Id. at 2. Plaintiff was sprayed with OC spray by correctional staff, who then escorted Plaintiff to the Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU) where he was handcuffed to a wall. Id. Plaintiff was evaluated by a sick call nurse. Id. at 3; DiGiulio Decl. ¶ 5, Att. 1 at 8, ECF 39. The nurse noted in medical records that Plaintiff denied injury and had been sprayed in the face. DiGiulio Decl. ¶ 5, Att. 1 at 8. Plaintiff alleges that he told the nurse he was burning alive and needed a shower and the nurse responded that a shower would be provided soon. Am. Compl. at 4. Plaintiff was provided with clean clothes and a wet towel to decontaminate upon entering the DSU along with the 34 other inmates who had either been sprayed or exposed to OC spray. First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 1 at 3. Plaintiff alleges he complained of horrific burning and pain to officers and was told he would get a shower soon. Am. Compl. at 4.

         Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was placed in a cell in Unit B of the DSU (“DSB”). Am. Compl. at 4. He alleges that he complained to Defendants Patterson and Wilson that he was in pain and had yet to receive a shower. Id. He requested a shower and was denied. Id. Later, after swing shift officers arrived, he complained to Defendants Godek and McElroy that he had been sprayed, was “burning alive, ” and had yet to be decontaminated. Id. at 4-5. He requested a shower from both officers and was denied. Id. at 5. He contends that he spent the whole night “suffering horrific burning.” Id. He attempted to decontaminate by splashing water from the sink in his cell onto himself, but the spray ran off “into other areas to make matters worse.” Id. The next morning, he asked day shift officers Defendants Wilson and Lyons for a shower but was ignored. Id. at 5-6. He also asked to speak to a sergeant, but Defendants never contacted one. Id. at 6.

         On July 27, he was transferred to another cell in Unit C of the DSU (“DSC”). First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 1 at 4. Showers were conducted for the side of DSC opposite Plaintiff's cell. Id. at 4-5. Defendant told Defendants Blevins, Platt, Moore, and McElroy that he had been sprayed and had yet to receive a shower. Am. Compl. at 6. Defendants Blevins and Platt responded with comments like “that sucks” and “yea that spray is no joke” but told Plaintiff he would not receive a shower until the following day. Id. Again, Plaintiff's request for new clothes, a towel, and bedding was denied. Id. Plaintiff suffered a second night of horrible pain. Id. at 7. He alleges that the spray was in his skin, that his “eyeballs felt like they were on fire and melting, ” and that his “eyelids were sticking to his eyeballs like glue.” Id. “It felt like Plaintiff was cooking alive.” Id. His clothing and sheets were contaminated, so “Plaintiff was constantly burning no matter what he did.” Id.

         On July 28, 2016, Defendants Jones and Nasby began conducting showers on Plaintiff's side of DSC for the upper tier. Id. Plaintiff's cell was on the bottom tier. Id. Plaintiff asserts that he complained to both Defendants Jones and Nasby that he was suffering from the OC spray. Id. He again requested a shower, and Defendants stated he would receive one when the next shift arrived. Id. Plaintiff finally received a shower later that day, over 48 hours after being sprayed. Id. at 8; First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 1 at 5. Defendants assert that they did not have the opportunity to deviate from the set shower schedule in DSU during this time because of the influx of 35 inmates from the July 26 riot and the restrictions used in DSU, such as two person escorts. First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 1 at 9.

         Plaintiff submitted his first formal grievance on August 11, 2016, to complain that he was denied a shower after being sprayed with OC spray. First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 6. Lieutenant Jantz responded a few weeks later, finding that the use of force and decontamination complied with current training and standards and noting that services may be limited or suspended during a major disruption. First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 7. On September 4, Plaintiff appealed his grievance. First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 8. On October 5, 2016, Defendant Gilmore responded to Plaintiff's grievance appeal by explaining that: “During a major disruption of the institution, services may be limited or suspended based on institutional need. While not getting the opportunity to shower on your time line must have been frustrating, you did get a shower at the institution's earliest convenience.” First Hoffman Decl. Ex. 9. Plaintiff filed a second grievance appeal and received a final response on October 27, 2016, that reaffirmed Defendant Gilmore's decision. First Hoffman Decl. Exs. 10, 11.

         Plaintiff subsequently filed this lawsuit. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment when Defendants refused to provide him with a decontamination shower 50 hours after exposure to OC spray. Am. Compl. at 9. He asserts Defendants failed to abide by administrative rules, ODOC policy, and state law, and that Defendants' actions were “malicious, . . . sadistic, intentional, diliberate [sic], reckless and calleous [sic].” Id. In addition, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Peters, Bell, and Gilmore are liable for the conduct of their co-defendants by failing to adequately supervise, train, and discipline their subordinates, which was the direct and proximate cause of his injuries. Id. at 10- 13. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, compensatory damages of $150, 000, and punitive damages in the amount of $300, 000. Id. at 13-14.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis of its motion and identifying those portions of “‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the ...

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