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Purvis v. Maddox

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

August 23, 2016



          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Willard Purvis (“Mr. Purvis”) is a state prisoner confined at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”). In his amended complaint, Mr. Purvis alleges that defendants Officer Hendershot, Officer Willis, and Officer Maddox a) violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to protect him and placing him in danger, and b) violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him.

         The defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment seeking resolution of the claims against them on the basis that Mr. Purvis failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies. Mr. Purvis has not opposed the motion for summary judgment.

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendants’ unopposed motion for summary judgment [dkt. 26] must be granted.

         II. 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).

         Because exhaustion of administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, “the burden of proof is on the prison officials, ” Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 681 (7th Cir. 2006), to demonstrate that Mr. Purvis failed to exhaust all available administrative remedies before he filed this suit. The defendants’ motion for summary judgment, brief in support, and Rule 56 notice were served on Mr. Purvis on June 17, 2016. As noted, no response has been filed, and the deadline for doing so has passed. The consequence of Mr. Purvis’ failure to respond is that he has conceded the defendants’ version of the facts. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission.”); Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921-22 (7th Cir. 1994). This does not alter the standard for assessing a Rule 56(a) motion, but does “reduc[e] the pool” from which the facts and inferences relative to such a motion may be drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).

         III. Discussion

         A. Undisputed Facts

         Applying the standards set forth above, the defendants have shown the following:

Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) policy establishes a three-step grievance process which existed at the time of the events described in Mr. Purvis’ amended complaint. The requirements of the grievance process are clear: the offender has an informal and two formal steps that he must take in order to exhaust his administrative remedies. This grievance program was in place at Wabash Valley during the time Mr. Purvis alleges that his constitutional rights were violated. The first step requires a prisoner to informally or verbally address the issues with a staff member designated by the facility. If the issue is not resolved to the prisoner’s liking, he must then file a formal grievance form. If the IDOC ...

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