United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court
Andress filed this action on January 8, 2016, contending that
his Constitutional Rights were violated while he was
incarcerated in the Indiana Department of Correction
(“IDOC”). Mr. Andress claims that on August 19,
2015, his left leg became tangled in computer wires under a
computer table. When he attempted to stand up, he fell and
fractured his leg. The defendant moves for summary judgment
arguing that Mr. Andress failed to exhaust his available
administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a),
before filing this lawsuit.
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). The party seeking summary judgment
“bears the initial responsibility of informing the
district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying” designated evidence which
“demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
the moving party has met its burden, the non-movant may not
rest upon mere allegations. Instead, “[t]o successfully
oppose a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party
must come forward with specific facts demonstrating that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Trask-Morton
v. Motel 6 Operating L.P., 534 F.3d 672, 677 (7th Cir.
2008). “The non-movant will successfully oppose summary
judgment only when it presents definite, competent evidence
to rebut the motion.” Vukadinovich v. Bd. of Sch.
Trs., 278 F.3d 693, 699 (7th Cir. 2002) (internal
quotation and citation omitted).
times relevant to his Complaint, Mr. Andress was confined by
the IDOC at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility
(“Wabash Valley”). The IDOC has an Offender
Grievance Process which is intended to permit inmates to
resolve concerns and complaints relating to their conditions
of confinement prior to filing suit in court. As an inmate at
Wabash Valley, Mr. Andress had access to the Offender
Grievance Process. All offenders are made aware of the
Offender Grievance Process during orientation and a copy of
the Grievance Process is available in various locations
within the prisons.
Grievance Process consists of three steps. It begins with the
offender contacting staff to discuss the matter or incident
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 grievance to the
Grievance Officer of the facility where the incident
occurred. If the formal written grievance is not resolved in
a manner that satisfies the offender, he may submit an
appeal. Exhaustion of the grievance procedure requires
pursuing a grievance to the final step.
August 31, 2015, Mr. Andress submitted an informal complaint
regarding the incident that occurred on August 19, 2015.
Karen Richards responded by checking the box
“Resolution” followed with the explanation that
Mr. Andress was clumsy and his accident was no one's
fault. Mr. Andress indicated he disagreed with the result and
sent it to the grievance specialist [dkt. 27, at pp. 4, 6].
On September 10, 2015, Mr. Andress filed a formal complaint
regarding the incident and requested compensation in the
amount of $25, 000 and the “cords to be reported to
maintenance for some kind of way to be removed from the
floor.” There is a hand written note at the top of the
formal grievance that states “monetary compensation is
not available through grievance process.” [dkt. 27, at
p. 7]. The grievance was returned stating this was a
non-grievable issue. Despite being told this was a
non-grievable issue, Mr. Andress attempted to appeal the
denial of his formal grievance. [dkt. 27, at pp. 4-5]. On
January 8, 2016, Mr. Andress filed his 42 U.S.C. § 1983
claim alleging his rights under the Eighth Amendment were
violated when he was injured on August 19, 2015, as a result
of the conditions of confinement.
grievance policy states that Tort Claims are not appropriate
for the grievance process. [dkt. 21-2, at p. 5].
PLRA requires that a prisoner exhaust his available
administrative remedies before bringing a suit concerning
prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); 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)). Strict
compliance is required with respect to exhaustion, and a
prisoner must properly follow the prescribed administrative
procedures in order to exhaust his remedies. Dole v.
Chandler,438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006). The
PLRA's exhaustion ...