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Whitney v. Jones

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

April 16, 2015

DR. JONES, Defendant.


WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Bryan Whitney, an inmate of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") at the Medium Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg, Virginia, brings this action pursuant to the theory recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging that defendant Dr. Jones was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs while he was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana ("FCC-Terre Haute"). Specifically, Whitney contends that Dr. Jones was deliberately indifferent to him by refusing to authorize surgery for an abdominal hernia until Whitney lost weight. The defendant seeks the resolution of this action through summary judgment arguing that Whitney failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies with respect to his claims as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997 ("PLRA").

I. Standard of Review

Summary judgment should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A "material fact" is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine only if a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. Id. The court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the non-movant's favor. Ault v. Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011).

II. Discussion

A. Undisputed Facts

Consistent with the foregoing, therefore, the following statement of facts is not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts are presented in the light reasonably most favorable to Whitney as the non-moving party with respect to the motion for summary judgment.

The BOP promulgated an administrative remedy system which is codified in 28 C.F.R. §§ 542.10, et seq., and BOP Program Statement 1330.18, Administrative Remedy Procedures for Inmates. The Administrative Remedy process is a method by which an inmate may seek formal review of a complaint related to any aspect of his imprisonment. To exhaust his remedies, an inmate must first file an informal remedy request through an appropriate institution staff member via a BP-8. If the inmate is not satisfied with the informal remedy response, he is required to first address his complaint with the Warden via a BP-9.

If the inmate is dissatisfied with the Warden's response, he may appeal to the Regional Director via a BP-10. If dissatisfied with the Regional Director's response, the inmate may appeal to the General Counsel via a BP-11. Once an inmate receives a response to his appeal from the General Counsel, after filing administrative remedies at all required levels, his administrative remedies are deemed exhausted as to the specific issues properly raised therein.

All codified BOP Program Statements are available for inmate access via the institution law library, including BOP Program Statement 1330.18. Additionally, Administrative Remedy filing procedures are outlined in an Inmate Information Handbook that is available to inmates at their respective BOP facility.

All administrative remedy requests filed by inmates are logged and tracked in the SENTRY computer database, which is an electronic record keeping system utilized by the BOP.

From February 24, 2010, through April 19, 2011, Whitney was incarcerated at FCC-Terre Haute. Defendant Dr. Roger Jones was employed as a physician at FCC-Terre Haute from November 21, 2010, through March 25, 2012.

Between February 24, 2010, and September 17, 2014, Whitney filed a total of thirteen requests for administrative remedy which correspond to four different administrative remedy request numbers-request number 598406, request number 602417, request number 684260, and request number 744216. Of these four administrative remedy requests numbers, only two were fully exhausted under BOP's administrative remedy process-request number 598406 and request number 684260.

Although Whitney did fully exhaust request number 598406 and request number 684260, neither one of these requests cover the claims raised against Dr. Jones in this lawsuit. As for request number 598406, first filed on July 14, 2010, Whitney complained of chronic pain in his lower back, spine, legs, feet, and pelvis and requested to be seen by a specialist, pain medication, and ...

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