United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
action arises out of alleged retaliation by a prison employee
against an inmate at the Massachusetts Correctional
Institution at Norfolk ("MCI-Norfolk"). Plaintiff
Alexander Mattei, an inmate, worked in the prison metal shop,
where he was supervised by defendant Benjamin Dunbar. After
Mattei was passed over for a promotion, he filed a series of
grievances against Dunbar. He was subsequently terminated
from the metal shop. Months later, another inmate came
forward alleging that Dunbar had asked him what he would want
in return for "taking care" of Mattei.
who is proceeding pro se, contends that Dunbar
retaliated against him for filing grievances in violation of
the First Amendment. Specifically, he alleges that Dunbar
denied him good-time credit, terminated him from his position
in the industrial shop, and attempted to recruit another
inmate to cause him physical harm, all in retaliation for
has moved for summary judgment as to all claims. For the
reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted in part
and denied in part.
following facts are either undisputed or taken in the light
most favorable to Mattei as the non-moving party.
Mattei has been an inmate at MCI-Norfolk since August 2009.
(Def SMF ¶ 1). MCI-Norfolk has a metal shop that employs
inmates. (Def. SMF. ¶ 4). It is divided into two units:
Metal Shop I and Metal Shop II. (Def. SMF ¶ 5). Inmates
are assigned to work in only one shop, but they can work in
the other shop if there is a need and a supervisor reassigns
them. (Def. SMF. ¶ 19).
Dunbar is the Shop Manager of Metal Shop I and is in charge
of supervising and training the inmates who work there. (Def.
SMF (Id. ¶ 4). Mattei began working in Metal
Shop I in October 2010. (Def. SMF ¶ 44).
contends that he submitted the first of four grievances
against Dunbar on April 19, 2012. (Mattei Dep. at 60-61). His
first grievance alleged that despite being the most senior
person in the metal shop eligible for a pay raise, he was
unfairly passed over when the raise when to another inmate.
(Mattei Dep. at 62). He stated that it was the second time
his seniority had been ignored and he was passed over for a
promotion. (Id.). Although MCI-Norfolk has a
procedure for keeping track of inmate grievances, the prison
has no record of the first grievance. (Def. SMF ¶¶
98-100). Mattei, however, has produced a handwritten copy of
his grievance. (Mattei Dep. at 61).
denies having any knowledge of the grievance. (Def. SMF
¶ 102). Mattei contends that Dunbar was aware of the
grievance, and that he said he would "do something"
for him so that he would be eligible for the next promotion.
(Mattei Dep. at 69). Mattei further contends that Dunbar then
assigned him to work with another inmate so that he could
receive additional training and thus become eligible for a
raise. (Mattei Dep. at 71-72). Mattei worked with that other
inmate for approximately two weeks before he was transferred
to Metal Shop II, where he worked from mid-May 2012 until
October 2012. (Mattei Dep. at 70-72; Def SMF ¶ 110).
and industrial instructors at MCI-Norfolk rate the monthly
performance of inmates in vocational and other programs as
"satisfactory, " "unsatisfactory, " or
"incomplete." (Def. SMF ¶ 40). Inmates may be
awarded Earned Good Time credit on a monthly basis for
"satisfactory performance" in an employment,
educational, or training program. (Def. SMF ¶ 38-39).
Inmates are also paid for "good and satisfactory
work." (Def. SMF ¶ 42).
the end of September and beginning of October 2012, Mattei
learned that he had received an unsatisfactory rating on his
performance evaluation for his Metal Shop I job in April 2012
and, therefore, did not earn good-time credit for that month.
(Def. SMF ¶¶ 111-12). He contends that he was
denied good-time credit for April 2012 in retaliation for the
grievance he filed against Dunbar. (PI. SMF ¶¶
80-82). He received good-time credit for every other month in
which he worked in the Metal Shop. (Def. Ex. 3, Dep. Ex. 6).
October 10, 2012, Mattei filed a second grievance, contending
that he was denied good-time credit in April 2012 in
retaliation for filing the previous grievance. (Def. SMF
October 15, 2012, Mattei completed his temporary assignment
to Metal Shop II and returned to Metal Shop I. (Def. SMF
¶¶ 110, 127). Two days later, on October 17, Dunbar
saw him removing a back brace. (Def. SMF ¶ 128). Metal
Shop I did not have a back brace. (Def. SMF ¶ 131).
Dunbar asked Mattei where the brace came from. (Def. SMF
¶ 128). Mattei responded that he had received the brace
from another inmate in Metal Shop II. (Def. SMF ¶¶
128, 133). Mattei contends that he had been wearing the back
brace, over his clothes where it was easily visible, for
several days before Dunbar confronted him about it. (PI. SMF
¶ 128). Dunbar called the supervisor of Metal Shop II,
who told him that a back brace was missing and that he had
not given Mattei permission to take it. (Def SMF ¶ 132).
Mattei was aware of the institutional rules and regulations
prohibiting inmates from getting property from another inmate
without permission. (Mattei Dep. at 97). Noncompliance with
any shop or institutional rule can be grounds for
termination. (Def. SMF ¶ 17).
October 17, after Dunbar confronted Mattei about the back
brace, the DOC's grievance coordinator interviewed Dunbar
regarding the second grievance. (Def. SMF ¶ 118).
was fired from his job in the Metal Shop two days later, on
October 19. (PI. SMF ¶ 136). He was told that he was
fired because he had taken the back brace without permission.
(Def. SMF ¶¶136-37).
contends that Dunbar fired him after the October 17 interview
and in retaliation for filing grievances. (PI. SMF
¶¶ 117, 136). In January 2013, the grievance
coordinator denied Mattel's second grievance. (Def. SMF
¶ 125). His request for good-time credit was also denied
because of his unsatisfactory rating for April 2012.
(Id.). His appeal of that denial was denied in
February 2013. (Def. SMF ¶ 126).
November 2012, Mattei filed a third grievance, contending
that he was fired in retaliation for filing grievances. (Def.
SMF ¶ 138). Following another investigation, the
grievance coordinator denied that grievance as well, stating
that "the termination appeared appropriate" because
he admitted using the back brace, which was a tool from
another shop. (Def. SMF ¶ 141). He appealed, and that
appeal was denied in January 2013. (DMF ¶ 142).
April 18, 2013, Jeff White, another inmate who worked in the
Metal Shop, approached the Director of Security at
MCI-Norfolk and reported that Dunbar had offered him
Dunkin' Donuts to beat up Mattei. (Def SMF ¶ 179).
According to White, he told Dunbar that he would not beat up
Mattei. (Def. SMF ¶ 181). An investigation ensued.
Dunbar denied the encounter with White. (Def. SMF ¶
184). In May 2013, the investigation concluded and
White's claim was found unsubstantiated. (Def. SMF ¶
learned about White's allegations against Dunbar from
another inmate, who in May 2013 gave him an affidavit drafted
by White. (Def. SMF ¶¶ 195-96). White's
affidavit was dated April 29, 2013. (Def. SMF ¶ 195).
Mattei filed a fourth grievance against Dunbar on June 9,
2013, contending that Dunbar "tried to hire an inmate to
assault him" in retaliation for filing grievances. (Def.
SMF ¶ 196). On June 20, 2013, the grievance coordinator
denied the grievance based on the prior investigation into
White's allegations. (Def. SMF. ¶ 197).