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Muhammad v. A. Rupska Health Service Administrator

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

June 26, 2017

ABDUL-AZIZ RASHID MUHAMMAD, Plaintiff,
v.
A. RUPSKA Health Service Administrator (HSA), LCDR KIMBERLY KLINK FNP-BC/Assistant Health Service Administrator (AHSA), ASHLEY MATCHETT Physical Therapist (PT), LIEUTENANT CHRISTOPHER BLILA usphs, msn, fnp-c, HEATHER ATTERBURY Health Service Assistant (HSAssit), KAYLA MILLER Health Service Assistant (HSAssit), TIMOTHY TABOR PA-C, T. BAILEY Medical Doctor (MD), Defendants.

          ENTRY DENYING JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW ON EXHAUSTION DEFENSE

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Abdul-Aziz Rashid Muhammad sued Heather Atterbury and Kayla Miller (“the defendants”), in their individual capacities pursuant to the theory recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The plaintiff alleges that these defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need for orthopedic shoes to treat neuropathy and artery disease. The defendants now seek dismissal of this claim on the basis that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. See dkt [66]. The plaintiff responded on January 17, 2017, dkt [70]. No reply was filed.

         For the reasons explained below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment, dkt [65], is denied because the defendants did not meet their burden of proof by showing that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit.

         I. 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).

         “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). The Court must consider the issue of exhaustion before reaching the merits. Perez v. Wis. Dep't of Corr., 182 F.3d 532, 536 (7th Cir. 1999) (“The statute [requiring administrative exhaustion] can function properly only if the judge resolves disputes about its application before turning to any other issue in the suit.”). “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

         The plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 27, 2015. The plaintiff has been housed at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Petersburg, Florida, since August 27, 2015.

         The plaintiff has been housed at FCC Terre Haute on more than one occasion, including the time period related to plaintiff's Complaint (from November 20, 2012, until October 21, 2013).

         The Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has 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 Program. 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. 28 C.F.R. § 542.10. To exhaust his remedies, an inmate must first file an informal remedy request through an appropriate institution staff member via a BP-8, prior to filing a formal administrative remedy request with the Warden, Regional Director, and General Counsel.

         If the inmate is not satisfied with the informal remedy response (BP-8), he is required to address his complaint at the institutional level with the Warden via a BP-9 form. 28 U.S.C. § 542.14. If the inmate is dissatisfied with the Warden's response to his BP-9, he may appeal to the Regional Director via a BP-10. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15. If dissatisfied with the Regional Director's response, the inmate may appeal to the General Counsel/Central Office via a BP-11. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15. Once an inmate receives a response to his appeal from the General Counsel/Central Office, after filing administrative remedies at all required levels, his administrative remedies are deemed exhausted, as to the specific issue(s) properly raised therein.

         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. The SENTRY database reflects that from the date the plaintiff arrived at FCI Terre Haute on November 20, 2012, through December 31, 2014, the plaintiff submitted a total of 60 administrative remedies. Only two of those remedies and their subsequent appeals are relevant to the claims alleged in this case.

         1. ...


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