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Lopes v. Beland

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 4, 2016

DANILO LOPES, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN BELAND et al., Defendants.

          Danilo Lopes, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          John Beland, Defendant, represented by Christopher Quinn, Morrison Mahoney LLP & James A. Bello, Morrison, Mahoney LLP.

          Superintendent Thomas Dickhaut, Defendant, represented by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., Department of Correction & Richard Elkins Gordon, Jr., Massachusetts Department of Correction.

          Anthony Mendonsa, Defendant, represented by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., Department of Correction & Richard Elkins Gordon, Jr., Massachusetts Department of Correction.

          Thomas Tocci, Defendant, represented by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., Department of Correction & Richard Elkins Gordon, Jr., Massachusetts Department of Correction.

          D.J. Hager, Defendant, represented by Christopher Quinn, Morrison Mahoney LLP & James A. Bello, Morrison, Mahoney LLP.

          Lawrence M. Weiner, Defendant, represented by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., Department of Correction & Richard Elkins Gordon, Jr., Massachusetts Department of Correction.

          Scott E. Anderson, Defendant, represented by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., Department of Correction & Richard Elkins Gordon, Jr., Massachusetts Department of Correction.

          Lisa A. Mitchell, Defendant, represented by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., Department of Correction & Richard Elkins Gordon, Jr., Massachusetts Department of Correction.

          CAROL HIGGINS O'BRIEN, Defendant, represented by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., Department of Correction & Richard Elkins Gordon, Jr., Massachusetts Department of Correction.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

          DENISE J. CASPER, District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Danilo Lopes ("Lopes"), a Massachusetts Department of Corrections ("DOC") inmate, has brought state and federal constitutional claims against Carol H. O'Brien, Lawrence M. Weiner, Lisa A. Mitchell, Scott E. Anderson, Thomas E. Dickhaut, Anthony M. Mendonsa and Thomas M. Tocci, the remaining parties with claims against them (collectively, "Defendants"). The Court held a bench trial over the course of three days and has now received and considered the parties' proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law, D. 237, 243. Although the DOC has voluntarily and wisely adopted the core relief that Lopes seeks in this lawsuit-namely, his assignment to a single-bunked cell-the Court does not conclude that Lopes is entitled to such relief as a matter of law or that the Defendants' failure to grant such relief earlier constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment or a violation of due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. Accordingly, the Court now issues its findings of facts and conclusions of law and enters judgment in favor of Defendants.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Lopes began this lawsuit on November 17, 2011. D. 1. On October 1, 2012, Lopes filed the operative complaint, his second amended complaint. D. 54. Counts I and II are substantive due process claims under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, respectively. Id . ¶¶ 70-77. Counts III and IV are procedural due process claims under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, respectively. Id . ¶¶ 78-83. Count V alleges a deliberate indifference claim under the Eighth Amendment. Id . ¶¶ 84-87. On November 30, 2012, Defendants moved to dismiss the operative complaint for failure to state a claim and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. D. 79. On April 5, 2013, the Court converted the Defendants' motion into a motion for summary judgment only on the issue of exhaustion. D. 91. On March 29, 2014, the Court denied Defendants' summary judgment motion on exhaustion grounds, denied Defendants' motion to dismiss against Counts I-V but allowed their motion to dismiss Count VI, an Americans with Disabilities Act claim.[1] D. 111.

         Over the course of three days, the Court held a bench trial on the remaining claims. D. 221, 222, 227. On the last day of trial, three of the Defendants requested that the Court enter judgment as a matter of law on partial findings, but the Court reserved ruling on the motion. D. 226, D. 235 at 61:6-22. Both parties, after the trial, filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, D. 237, 243.

         III. FINDINGS OF FACT

         In light of the evidence presented at the bench trial, the Court makes the following findings of fact:

         A. The Parties and Witnesses

         1. Lopes is an inmate lawfully incarcerated at Old Colony Correctional Center ("OCCC"). D. 54 ¶ 1; D. 230 at 77:1-2.[2]

         2. Defendant Carol H. O'Brien is the DOC Commissioner and sued in her official capacity. D. 157. She replaced former Commissioner Luis Spencer, who was named in Lopes's operative complaint. D. 54 ¶ 2.

         3. Defendant Lisa Mitchell ("Mitchell") is Superintendent of OCCC. D. 231 at 82:21-83:1.

         4. Defendant Thomas Dickhaut ("Dickhaut") was Superintendent of the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center ("SBCC") from May 2007 until September 2011. D. 235 at 34:7-17.

         5. Defendant Anthony Mendonsa ("Mendonsa") was the Deputy Superintendent of Classification and Programs at SBCC from 2005 to 2011. D. 231 at 47:15-17.

         6. Defendant Thomas Tocci ("Tocci") is the Institutional Grievance Coordinator at SBCC and is responsible for investigating and resolving grievances filed by SBCC inmates. D. 235 at 5:18-20, 18:8-12.

         7. Defendant Scott Anderson ("Anderson") was the Deputy Superintendent of Classification and Programs at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Shirley ("MCI-Shirley") from June 2005 to September 2011. D. 231 at 38:8-13. He was also Acting Superintendent from January until September 2011. Id. at 40:25-41:1.

         8. Defendant Lawrence Weiner ("Weiner") was the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Clinical Services from 2011 to 2013. Id. at 147:19-22.

         9. Donald J. Hager ("Hager") works as Regional Mental Health Director for the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare (the contracted healthcare provider for the DOC) at SBCC. D. 230 at 116:15-25, 119:21-120:9. He is a licensed mental health counselor. Id. at 120:10-13.

         10. Mitzi Peterson ("Peterson") is Regional Administrator for the Health Services Division of the Department of Corrections. Id. at 148:4-12. During the relevant time period, she was the Clinical Director at OCCC, where she oversaw and supervised clinical staff. Id. at 148:16-24. She is a licensed independent clinical social worker. Id. at 152:24-25.

         11. At the bench trial, the Court heard testimony from Lopes, D. 230 at 22, Hager, id. at 116, Peterson, id. at 148, Anderson, D. 231 at 38, Mendonsa, id. at 47, Mitchell, id. at 83, Weiner, id. at 147, Tocci, D. 235 at 5 and Dickhaut, id. at 24. The Court has considered this testimony along with the exhibits admitted at trial.

         B. SBCC and OCCC

         12. SBCC is the only maximum-security correctional facility in the Commonwealth. D. 231 at 50:12-15; D. 235 at 38:14-18. Because the DOC designated SBCC as the sole maximum-security facility in 2008, SBCC became a double-bunked facility to allow for the housing of other maximum-security inmates originally housed elsewhere. D. 231 at 50:10-17; D. 235 at 41:10-42:21. SBCC currently contains both double-bunked (i.e., two inmates to a cell) and single-bunked (i.e., one inmate to a cell) cells. D. 231 at 61:20-62:5.

         13. OCCC is a medium-security correctional facility that houses approximately 1, 000 inmates. Id. at 100:12-13. In 2010, OCCC transformed from a general population correctional facility to one that specialized in the treatment of mentally ill inmates. Id. at 100:19-101:2. OCCC was originally all single-bunked cells, but because of overcrowding, now has double-bunked cells as well. Id. at 102:8-11.

         C. February 2005 to May 2009: Lopes at SBCC

         14. Lopes was sentenced in February 2005. D. 230 at 27:18. He was initially housed at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord ("MCI-Concord"). Id. at 27:25-28:1.

         15. The Inmate Management System ("IMS") is the DOC electronic system that relays information to correctional and vendor staff. D. 230 at 117:16-22; D. 231 at 84:2-5. An IMS printout shows that on February 23, 2005, a medical restriction for a single room was entered for Lopes. Defendants' Exhibit 1. A comment on the printout stated: "Patient requires single room only because of ...


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