United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISCUSSING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge.
Plaintiff Wesley Young (“Mr. Young”) has been incarcerated at the Pendleton Correctional Facility (“PCF”) at all times relevant to this action. In his amended complaint, filed on July 17, 2014, Mr. Young alleges that the defendants unlawfully deprived him of or failed to reinstate his visitation rights because of his race in violation of his equal protection rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
The four defendants, Superintendent Zatecky, Assistant Superintendent Andrew Cole, Jack Binion, and Tom Francum, have filed a motion for summary judgment seeking resolution of the claims against them based on the affirmative defense that Mr. Young failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to filing the amended complaint. Mr. Young has opposed the motion for summary judgment and the defendants replied.
For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment [dkt. 37] must be granted.
A. Legal Standards
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. If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no “genuine” dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). The Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the non-movant’s favor. Ault v. Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011).
“The applicable substantive law will dictate which facts are material.” National Soffit & Escutcheons, Inc., v. Superior Systems, Inc., 98 F.3d 262, 265 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The substantive law applicable to the motion for summary judgment is the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA’”), which requires that a prisoner exhaust his available administrative remedies before bringing a suit concerning prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002). “[T]he PLRA’s exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong.” Id. at 532 (citation omitted).
“Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency’s deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the course of its proceedings.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90-91 (2006) (footnote omitted); see also Dale v. Lappin, 376 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2004) (“In order to properly exhaust, a prisoner must submit inmate complaints and appeals ‘in the place, and at the time, the prison’s administrative rules require.’”) (quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002)). “In order to exhaust administrative remedies, a prisoner must take all steps prescribed by the prison’s grievance system.” Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 397 (7th Cir. 2004).
B. Undisputed Facts
On the basis of the pleadings and the expanded record, and specifically on the portions of that record which comply with the requirements of Rule 56(c), the following facts, construed in the manner most favorable to Mr. Young as the non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment:
The Offender Grievance Process, Policy and Administrative Procedure 00-02-301 (“Offender Grievance Process”), is in place at PCF, and that program has been continually in place since January 1, 2010. The purposes, rules, and procedures of this grievance program are set forth in the Offender Grievance Process, which was in effect and readily available to offenders at all times relevant to this action. The Offender Grievance Process includes an attempt to resolve the complaint informally, as well as two formal steps – a formal written grievance and then an appeal of the response.
The Offender Grievance Process sets forth various deadlines so that the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) can achieve its goals of providing a grievance program that is responsive to offenders’ concerns. According to the Offender Grievance Process, an attempt to informally resolve the complaint must be made as soon as possible and in no case should the time period be more than five (5) working days from the date of the incident. The first formal grievance must be submitted within twenty (20) working days from the date of the incident. The Executive Assistant then has two (2) working days to review and log the formal grievance, or return it to the offender with an explanation as to why it was returned and how it may be corrected. Once the grievance is logged, the Executive Assistant or her designee has fifteen (15) working days to respond to the grievance. If the formal grievance is not resolved in a ...