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Gladney v. Mehler

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

September 23, 2013

GARY MEHLER, et. al, Defendants.



William L. Gladney is a prisoner incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California. Proceeding without counsel, Gladney filed a civil rights complaint against federal officers of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") pursuant to the doctrine announced in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). [R. 1, 4] Gladney alleges that the defendants failed to protect him from an assault by another inmate; wrongly found him guilty of fighting with that inmate; and then placed him in a cell for three days that lacked adequate accommodations in light of his injuries.

Following service of process, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, or in the alternative, for summary judgment [R. 18] to which Gladney has filed a response. [R. 22] This matter is therefore ripe for determination.


Gladney was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary - McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky, between April 21, 2008, and November 18, 2010. [R. 20, p. 4] On August 4, 2010, while Gladney was in the dining room during the lunch hour, inmate Ralph Graham attacked him from behind and punched him in the head. Gladney responded by throwing Graham to the ground and repeatedly punching him in the head. Prison staff intervened and stopped the fight. Gladney was examined at the prison's Health Services Unit, but appeared largely unharmed except for pain in his right shoulder. [R. 20-1, pp. 54-55] Gladney was placed in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), but was released back to his housing unit by 3:30 p.m. the same day. Prison staff issued Incident Report 2049412 to Gladney which charged him with Fighting with Another Person, a Code 201 offense. [R. 20-1, p. 50]

Graham had also been placed in the SHU after the fight, but he was released back into his housing unit - that he shared with Gladney - at approximately 2:12 p.m. the next day, August 5, 2010. At or around 2:05 p.m., [1] officers found Gladney and Graham fighting again in their unit, each hitting the other in the face and torso. Graham also appears to have stabbed Gladney with a makeshift knife or shiv. Prison staff again interceded to stop the fight.

The medical examination of Gladney indicated that he had several lacerations in his left hand, upper lip, and left ear, as well as three puncture wounds in his left shoulder. These wounds were either sutured shut or closed with tissue adhesive. When the x-ray of Gladney's left hand revealed a fracture, he was taken to the Scott County Hospital for treatment. [R. 20-1, pp. 63-65] A splint was applied to the hand, and Gladney was returned to the prison the same day. Prison staff issued Incident Report 2050297 to Gladney which again charged him with Fighting with Another Person. [R. 20-1, p. 59]

Upon his return from the hospital, Gladney was placed back in the SHU, where he remained for three days until August 8, 2010. Gladney indicates that his cell had no bed, no toilet, and no running water. Once he was released from the SHU, on August 9, 2010, the Unit Disciplinary Committee held a brief hearing on both charges, but referred both Incident Reports to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO") for decision. [R. 20-1, pp. 50, 59]

On September 1, 2010, the DHO Gary Mehler held hearings on both charges. With respect to both altercations, Gladney expressly admitted that he fought with Graham, but contended that Graham had attacked him first and that he had no choice but to defend himself. Nonetheless, on October 28, 2010, the DHO issued Reports finding Gladney guilty of both charges, and for each sanctioned him with placement in disciplinary segregation for 15 days and the loss of commissary privileges for 90 days. Both of the DHO's Reports were delivered to Gladney on November 9, 2010. [R. 20-1, pp. 47-49; R. 20-1, pp. 56-58]

Gladney remained at U.S.P. - McCreary until November 18, 2010, at which time he was transferred out of the prison. [R. 20-1, pp. 2, 12] Following approximately one week at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Gladney was transferred to the United States Penitentiary in Victorville, California. [R. 20-1, pp. 2, 12] Gladney remained at that facility for approximately one month, until December 21, 2010, when he was transferred to U.S.P.-Atwater. [R. 20-1, pp. 2, 12]

When Gladney arrived at Atwater, he asked his unit staff for copies of his "shots" (DHO Reports), but staff apparently indicated that not all of Gladney's personal property, including his documents, had arrived at the prison. When the documents did arrive, they were stamped, incorrectly, as exempt under the Freedom of Information Act, and were thus not provided to Gladney pursuant to prison policy. [R. 20-1, p. 25]

Gladney did not challenge his disciplinary conviction for the August 4, 2010, lunch room fight until on May 3, 2011, six months after the DHO Report was delivered to him on November 9, 2010, when he filed Administrative Remedy No. 635853-R2 with the Western Regional Office ("WRO"). This grievance, and a series of subsequent grievances Gladney filed with WRO and the Central Office, were all rejected as untimely. [R. 20, p. 4-6]

On June 6, 2011, Gladney filed an Inmate Request to Staff asking that unit staff provide him with a letter explaining that he did not receive and was unable to obtain copies of his DHO Reports when he arrived at USP-Atwater. [R. 20-1, p. 25] On October 25, 2011, Gladney's Case Manager, L. Taitano, authored a memorandum confirming the delay and requesting that Gladney's untimely appeal be considered in light of it. [R. 20-1, p. 27]

WRO acquiesced, and addressed the merits of Gladney's challenge to his disciplinary conviction on November 28, 2011, in Administrative Remedy No. 638329-R3. The Regional Director found that the evidence supported the charge, that the DHO had substantially complied with the BOP's regulations in conducting the hearing, and denied relief. [R. 20, p. 6; R. 20-1, p. 23] On December 19, 2011, the Central Office affirmed ...

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