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Assistant AG: Inmate who sued Corrections failed to exhaust administrative remedies

JERRY Ray, an inmate, failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing his lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, Assistant Attorney General Hessel Yntema told the federal court.

Ray filed a complaint related to inadequate mental healthcare against Corrections officials, and claimed that he was subjected to solitary confinement and isolation.

Represented by attorney Jeanne H. Rayphand, Ray named as defendants Commissioner Vincent S. Attao, Director Gregory Castro, acting Commissioner Georgia M. Cabrera, Capt. Pius P. Yaroitemal, operation commander David Deleon Guerrero, and classification officer Cynthia B. Santos.

Ray sued the Corrections officials in their official and personal capacities.

Rayphand said her client has exhausted administrative remedies and any further attempt at administrative remedies would be futile.

But in his motion for summary judgment, Assistant AG Hessel Yntema  said Ray made no mention of any attempt to use Corrections’ established grievance procedure. “Ray only alleges that he made ‘requests,’ ” Yntema said.

In actuality, he added, and as documented in Corrections’ affidavits and exhibits, Ray failed to properly utilized the department’s available grievance system.

As remedies were not properly exhausted, the court must dismiss the lawsuit, the assistant AG said.

In 2012, he added, Ray was admitted as an inmate at least four times and went through orientation that included a review of Corrections’ policies and procedures.

Yntema said there is no question that Ray was informed about grievance procedures, had access to grievance forms, and made repeated use of these forms, at times tailoring them into “requests.”

Ray “has not been denied access to grievance forms and has been able to submit them freely; he has in fact submitted many,” Yntema said.

When Ray was sanctioned for a violation of inmate rules, he was informed of his right to appeal any disciplinary decisions and signed the documents informing him of this, Yntema added.

He said the defendants have met their burden to show that an administrative remedy was available for Ray.

Ray is asking the court for an award of damages in the amount of  $100 a day starting from June 19 to May 7, 2018 for the “unconstitutional administrative segregation, isolation, and solitary confinement done by the defendants.” He is also asking for damages “for the denial of psychiatric healthcare, including evaluation, treatment, medication, and counseling.”

A habitual offender, Ray has been an inmate since 2012 after he was convicted of burglary.