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Mathewson v. Core Civic Corp.

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

May 23, 2019

ROBERT J. MATHEWSON, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
CORE CIVIC CORPORATION aka CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, CHIEF BRENT MADRID, LT. BUSHMAN-WEAVER, AND KARI ALSTEAD aka KARI KENYON, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Brian Morris United States District Court Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Kari Alstead filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on June 11, 2018. (Doc. 9.) Defendants CoreCivic, Inc., Chief Brent Madrid, and Lt. Bushman- Weaver (collectively “CoreCivic Defendants”) filed a Notice of Joinder in Defendant Alstead's Motion for Summary Judgment on June 20, 2018. (Doc. 15.) Plaintiff Robert J. Mathewson, Jr. filed a Cross Motion for Summary Judgment on June 29, 2018. (Doc. 18.) United States Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered Findings and Recommendations regarding Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment and Mathewson's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment on February 1, 2019. (Doc. 30.)

         Alstead timely objected to Judge Johnston's Findings and Recommendations on February 15, 2019. (Doc. 37.) CoreCivic Defendants timely joined Alstead's objections on February 15, 2019. (Doc. 38.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court reviews de novo Findings and Recommendations to which a party timely objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). “A party makes a proper objection by identifying the parts of the magistrate's disposition that the party finds objectionable, and presenting legal argument and supporting authority, such that the district court is able to identify the issues and the reasons supporting a contrary result.” Montana Shooting Sports Ass'n v. Holder, 2010 WL 4102940, at *2 (D. Mont. Oct. 18, 2010) (citation omitted).

         The Court reviews findings and recommendations to which no party objects for clear error. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981). Clear error exists if the Court is left with a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. Syrax, 235 F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

         BACKGROUND

         Alstead and CoreCivic Defendants (collectively “Defendants”) object, in relevant part, to several of Judge Johnston's factual findings. (Doc. 37 at 2.) Defendants contend that Judge Johnston omitted four undisputed facts that Defendants believe to be material. Id. at 2-3. The Court will add the omitted facts to the extent they are relevant.

         Mathewson remains incarcerated at Crossroads Correctional Center (“CCC”) in Shelby, Montana. (Doc. 20-1 at ¶ 3.) Montana State Prison Procedure 3.3.3 (“MSP 3.3.3”) governs inmate grievances at CCC. (Docs. 12 at ¶ 3.) An inmate at CCC generally “must first present an issue of concern on an Inmate/ Offender Informal Resolution Form [(“IRF”)] . . . to his assigned Unit Manager (UM) or designee within five working days of the action or omission that caused the complaint.” (Doc. 12-1 at 3.) The UM, or his designee, then “will investigate or resolve the issue informally, and provide a response to the inmate on the [IRF] within 20 working days of receipt of the form.” Id. at 4.

         An inmate, who wishes to file a formal grievance, “must do so within five working days from the date he received the informal resolution response.” Id. The Grievance Coordinator (“GC”), or his designee, “will respond to all properly filed grievance forms within 20 working days.” Id. at 5 The response of the GC, or his designee, to an inmate's formal grievance must “contain specific, explanatory reasons for any decision to assist the inmate's understanding of the decision.” Id. An inmate, who wishes to appeal the decision of the GC, or his designee, regarding the inmate's formal grievance, must appeal “within five working days from the date he received the formal level response.” Id.

         The inmate must appeal the GC's formal response “by submitting an Inmate/Offender Grievance Appeal to Warden/Administrator from . . . and any additional documentation to the GC within five working days of receipt of the response to the grievance.” Id. at 6. The Warden, or his designee, “will review the grievance and provide a written response to the inmate, specifying the reasons for any decision” within twenty working days of the receipt of the appeal form. Id. The Warden, or his designee, “will include instructions to the inmate that he may appeal the decision to the Department Director.” Id. The Warden's response to the inmate's appeal “will be returned to the inmate through the GC, who will notify the inmate that he has five working days from receipt to submit an appeal to the decision to the GC who will forward it to the Department Director.” Id.

         The Department Director, or his designee, will respond to an inmate's appeal “within [twenty] working days of receipt of the grievance and appeal.” Id. at 8. The Department Director, or his designee, will “specify[] the reasons for any decision.” Id. The Department Director's “response is final, and exhausts all administrative remedies available to the inmate thorough the inmate grievance program.” Id.

         CCC received Mathewson's IRF, dated September 29, 2017, on October 2, 2017. (Doc. 12-2 at 4.) Mathewson stated that CCC Facility Officer Bushman told Mathewson to destroy his “eagle feather player fan” or else Mathewson would be sent to “the hole” and would get a major write up. (Doc. 12-2 at 4.) Mathewson “broke the handle” of his eagle feather player fan and gave it to Bushman in response to Bushman's alleged threats. Id. Mathewson wrote “an investigation” under the action requested section of his IRF. Id. UM Johnson responded to Mathewson's IRF on October 19, 2017. Id. UM Johnson specified in his response that “[s]taff will investigate the Grievance and an appropriate action will be conducted.” Id. UM Johnson “granted in part” Mathewson's IRF. Id. The UM's response stated “[y]ou have a right to file a Formal Grievance if this response does ...


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