Rinaldi v. United States, No. 16-1080 (3d Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Rinaldi, a Lewisburg inmate, alleged that he had been assaulted by Cellmate 1. His informal and subsequent formal "Assault Requests" were denied. The following day, Rinaldi was transferred. According to Rinaldi, Counselor Baysore had warned Rinaldi that unless he stopped filing requests, she would have him placed with a cellmate who was known for assaulting his cellmates. Officer Gee allegedly told Rinaldi he was being moved was because he “didn’t listen.” Cellmate 2, Rinaldi alleges, threatened to kill Rinaldi. Rinaldi claims he “suffered cuts and bruises and emotional distress” from altercations with Cellmate 2. Rinaldi allegedly was concerned about further retaliation and did not file an informal resolution with Lewisburg. He filed his “Retaliation Request” with the Regional Director, where it was rejected with directions to file it at Lewisburg. Separately, Rinaldi sought relief for the assault by Cellmate 2. The Regional Director responded: [T]here is no record of you being assaulted by your previous or current cellmate. . . your appeal is denied." Rinaldi’s further appeal to the General Counsel was denied on the merits. The Third Circuit vacated, in part, the dismissal of RInaldi’s claims. Rinaldi’s Assault Request was denied at the highest level on the merits and was properly exhausted under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a). Rinaldi’s Retaliation Request satisfies the objective test for unavailability. Accepting his allegations as true, “a reasonable inmate of ordinary firmness and fortitude” would be “deter[red] . . . from lodging a grievance.” A Federal Tort Claims Act claim was properly dismissed as concerning discretionary functions.