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Van Cleave v. O'Brien

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

July 1, 2015

DR. PAUL J. O'BRIEN, et al., Defendants.



I. Background

Plaintiff Randall Van Cleave ("Mr. Van Cleave") is an Indiana prisoner incarcerated at all relevant times at the Putnamville Correctional Facility ("Putnamville"). His civil rights complaint was brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Van Cleave alleges that in February 2012, defendants Dr. Paul J. O'Brien, Nurse Practitioner Barnes, Nurse Nicole Webster, and Dr. Naveen Rajoli failed to provide adequate treatment for his serious medical needs, which resulted in a below the right knee amputation on March 3, 2012. He seeks compensatory damages.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment seeking resolution of the claims against them based on the affirmative defense that Mr. Van Cleave failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to filing this action. Mr. Van Cleave opposed the motion for summary judgment and the defendants replied.

For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendants' motion for summary judgment [dkt. 31] must be granted.

II. Discussion

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).

"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. Van Cleave as the non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment:

Mr. Van Cleave was incarcerated at Putnamville from July 20, 2011, until March 6, 2012. As an inmate incarcerated at Putnamville, he had access to the Offender Grievance Process to grieve any concerns about the conditions of his confinement, including medical issues. The grievance process consists of three stages. First, an offender must attempt to resolve the grievance informally through officials at the prison by contacting staff to discuss the matter subject to the grievance and seeking informal resolution. If the offender is unable to obtain a resolution of the grievance informally, he may submit a formal written complaint (Offender Grievance) on State Form 45471. If the Offender Grievance is not resolved in a manner that satisfies the offender, the offender may submit an appeal (Offender Grievance Appeal) on State Form 45473. A grievance must be filed within twenty (20) working days from the date of the alleged incident.

During his incarceration at Putnamville, Mr. Van Cleave did not file any grievances. On June 4, 2013, when at a different prison, he filed his first grievance concerning inadequate medical care, but the content of that ...

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