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Peterson v. Morrison

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

February 12, 2015

C. MORRISON, et. al., Defendants.



Plaintiff Lawrence Peterson, a former inmate of the Duvall Work Release Center ("Duvall"), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on treatment he received while housed there. Specifically, Peterson alleges that the defendants, C. Morrison and Ben Sandman, Duvall employees, subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution by forcing him to be exposed to second-hand smoke despite the fact that he suffers from COPD and serious chest pains. Arguing that Peterson failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), the defendants move for summary judgment.

I. Standard of Review

A motion for summary judgment asks that the Court find that a trial based on the uncontroverted and admissible evidence is unnecessary because, as a matter of law, it would conclude in the moving party's favor. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56. To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must set forth specific, admissible evidence showing that there is a material issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The substantive law identifies which facts are material. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is genuine only "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no "genuine" dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007). The key inquiry is whether admissible evidence exists to support a plaintiff's claims, not the weight or credibility of that evidence, both of which are assessments reserved to the trier of fact. See Schacht v. Wis. Dep't of Corrections, 175 F.3d 497, 504 (7th Cir. 1999). When evaluating this inquiry, the Court must give the non-moving party the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the evidence submitted and resolve "any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial... against the moving party." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 330.

Whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially the grant of summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e).

Local Rule 56-1(b) requires a brief in opposition to a motion for summary judgment to include a section labeled "Statement of Material Facts in Dispute", which responds to the movant's asserted material facts by identifying the potentially determinative facts and factual disputes which the non-moving party contends demonstrate that there is a dispute of fact precluding summary judgment. These facts must be supported by appropriate citations to admissible evidence. See 56-1(e); Edward E. Gillen Co. v. City of Lake Forest, 3 F.3d 192, 196 (7th Cir. 1993). Peterson has not presented the Court with a brief in opposition to the motion for summary judgment or a Statement of Material Facts in Dispute. Instead he has submitted only his Declaration in response to the motion for summary judgment. That Declaration has been considered, but any conclusory allegations in the Declaration are insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact where the defendants have provided supported evidence of their assertions of fact. See Young v. Monahan, 420 F.Appx. 578, 583 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990); Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 773 (7th Cir. 2003)).

II. Undisputed Facts

Applying the standards set forth above, the undisputed facts are as follows:

A. The Duvall Residential Center

At all times relevant to the complaint, Lawrence Peterson was a resident of Duvall. In 1983, following the passage of the community corrections statute by the Indiana General Assembly, the City-County Council enacted a local ordinance creating the Marion County Community Corrections ("MCCC"). See Indianapolis, IN., Rev. Code § 283-101.1 Indiana Code section 11-10-8 provides for work release programs through community corrections facilities. Indiana Code section 11-12 is the community corrections statute. This statute gives the City of Indianapolis/Marion County the authority to "establish and operate a community corrections advisory board for the purpose of coordinating or operating community corrections programs." See Ind. Code § 11-12-1-2 (2014). The community corrections programs may include residential or work release programs. Ind. Code § 11-12-1-2.5(a)(1).

Duvall was opened in October 2007 and provides 350 beds for non-violent males who are serving work-release sentences through MCCC. In addition to providing local offenders an option to serve their work-release sentences through Duvall, it also contracts with the Indiana Department of Correction to provide offenders with housing who are on work release through the Indiana Department of Correction. Residents are permitted to leave the facility to work, seek employment, attend school, and receive medical care. Residents may also earn passes to visit with family or be granted other passes for special circumstances.

B. Grievance Policy at Duvall

On June 9, 1989, Peterson was given a fifty year sentence for committing a burglary and theft in Marion County Superior Court. As a result of his sentence, Peterson's projected release date from prison was June 19, 2014. Peterson was sent to Duvall on January 15, 2014, to serve out the rest of his sentence via a work-release.

When Peterson entered into the work release program at Duvall in January 2014, it had in place procedures whereby residents could formally complain about the conditions of their detention or other specific incidents of alleged misconduct. The details of the grievance procedure are outlined in the Resident Handbook, which each resident receives upon entering Duvall. The grievance procedure allows residents to resolve concerns and complaints about all aspects ...

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