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Lyons v. Marshals

filed: February 29, 1988.


On Appeal from the United States District Court For the Middle District of Pennsylvania - Scranton, Civil Action No. 86-1243.

Weis and Stapleton, Circuit Judges, Cohill, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Stapleton


STAPLETON, Circuit Judge.

Appellant James Lyons instituted this suit while he was a pretrial detainee at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (Lewisburg). The suit, brought under the authority of Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971), seeks damages and injunctive relief for the transfer of Lyons to Lewisburg from a New Hampshire prison, as well as for the conditions faced by Lyons as a pretrial detainee at Lewisburg. The district court granted the defendants' summary judgment motion on the ground that Lyons had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. We have appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1291 (1982). Because we find that there are triable issues of fact concerning whether Lyons was excused from satisfying the exhaustion requirement, we will reverse.


On April 2, 1986, Lyons was arrested in Massachusetts on federal drugs and firearms charges. Lyons was then taken to Rhode Island for arraignment, and on May 2, 1986, was indicted in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Because of overcrowding in the Rhode Island detention facility, Lyons was transferred to Concord State Prison in New Hampshire as a federal pretrial detainee on July 1, 1986. While imprisoned there, Lyons instituted a civil suit protesting the conditions for pretrial detainees.

On August 25, 1986, Lyons was transferred to the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Lyons alleges that this transfer occurred in retaliation for his filing the lawsuit in New Hampshire and for his publicizing the conditions for pretrial detainees in the local newspapers. Lyons remained at Lewisburg for over two months, until November 4, 1986, at which time he was transferred to a Massachusetts facility. Lyons subsequently returned to Lewisburg from November 10 until November 14. Since November 14, 1986, Lyons has not returned to Lewisburg.

Like all other pretrial detainees at Lewisburg, Lyons was classified as an "unsentenced holdover," segregated from the general population of prisoners, and placed in the Special Housing Unit on Administrative Detention status. Lewisburg segregates pretrial detainees from the general prison population for the detainees' own protection, as well as for the security of the institution. The detainees are placed in an administrative detention unit because Lewisburg does not have other segregated facilities designed to house pretrial detainees.

Lyons contends that conditions for pretrial detainees in Lewisburg's Special Housing Unit were unconstitutionally harsh, and in particular, worse than those for sentenced inmates. According to Lyons, he was typically locked in his cell 23 to 24 hours per day. He got a maximum of three showers and five hours of recreation per week. In addition, Lyons claims he was not allowed to make a telephone call until almost a month after he arrived at Lewisburg, and thereafter was allowed only one other call, which was not successful. Other alleged conditions include insufficient clothes and linens; inadequate law library materials and restricted use of the main prison library; interference with mail and legal materials; restricted allotment of stamps, paper, pens, and envelopes, combined with a prohibition on commissary purchases; inadequate food served in the cell rather than in the prison dining rooms; and inadequate lighting, air, quiet, and space in the cells.

On September 5, 1986, while at Lewisburg, Lyons filed this suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages for his allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement and for his allegedly retaliatory transfer to Lewisburg. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants on the ground that Lyons had not exhausted his administrative remedies. This timely appeal followed.*fn1


We exercise plenary review over grants of summary judgment motions to determine whether "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the party opposing the motion. Equimark Commercial Fin. Co. v. C.I.T. Fin. Servs. Corp., 812 F.2d 141, 144 (3d Cir. 1987). We must view all facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Betz Laboratories, Inc. v. Hines, 647 F.2d 402, 404 (3d Cir. 1981).

Federal prisoners ordinarily must exhaust available administrative remedies before seeking injunctive relief from conditions of confinement. Waddell v. Alldredge, 480 F.2d 1078, 1079 (3d Cir. 1973). If a federal prisoner seeks only money damages under Bivens for violation of his constitutional rights, exhaustion is not required. Muhammad v. Carlson, 739 F.2d 122 (3d Cir. 1984). If, however, a prisoner's suit seeks both injunctive relief and ...

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