United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
William T. Lawrence, Judge
civil action, plaintiff Jeremiah Farmer alleges that the
defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs when they delayed prescribing him pain
medication for nerve and ligament pain and delayed scheduling
x-rays and MRI appointments while Mr. Farmer was incarcerated
at the Pendleton Correctional Facility
pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment
filed by defendants Paul Talbat, Houman Kiani, and Michael
Person on June 2, 2017. [Dkt. 22]. The plaintiff filed a
response in opposition on June 15, 2017.
defendants' motion argues that the claims alleged against
them are barred under the exhaustion provision of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §
1997e, that requires a prisoner to first exhaust his
available administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit in
Court. Mr. Farmer argues in response that he attempted to
exhaust his remedies but that it was impossible to complete
because of his conflicts with prison staff. The defendants
did not file a reply. The defendants' motion for summary
judgment, [Dkt. 22], must be denied because there are issues
of material fact that must be resolved at a hearing pursuant
to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008).
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). 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).
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 this motion for summary
judgment is the PLRA, which requires that “[n]o action
shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under
section 1983 . . . until such administrative remedies as are
available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e;
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 requirement to exhaust provides
“that no one is entitled to judicial relief for a
supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed
administrative remedy has been exhausted.” Woodford
v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88-89 (2006) (citation omitted).
Exhaustion of available administrative remedies
“‘means using all steps that the agency holds
out, and doing so properly (so that the agency addresses the
issues on the merits).'” Id. at 90
(quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1024
(7th Cir. 2002)). Proper use of the facility's grievance
system requires a prisoner “to file complaints and
appeals in the place, and at the time the prison's
administrative rules require.” Pozo, 286 F.3d
at 1025; see also Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804,
809 (7th Cir. 2006).
the same time, the [PLRA] requires exhaustion only of
remedies that are ‘available.'” King v.
McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 893 (7th Cir. 2015).
“Prison officials may not take unfair advantage of the
exhaustion requirement, ” and if they do, their conduct
can make the remedy process “unavailable.”
Dole, 438 F.3d at 809. “Administrative
remedies are primarily ‘unavailable' to prisoners
where ‘affirmative misconduct' prevents prisoners
from pursuing administrative remedies.” Hernandez
v. Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 842 (7th Cir. 2016); see Kaba
v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006)
(“[W]hen prison officials prevent inmates from using
the administrative process . . . the process that exists on
paper becomes unavailable in reality.”).
exhaustion is an affirmative defense, “the burden of
proof is on the prison officials.” Kaba, 458
F.3d at 680. So here, the defendants bear the burden of
demonstrating that the plaintiff failed to exhaust all
available administrative remedies before he filed this suit.
Id. at 681.
following statement of facts was evaluated pursuant to the
standard set forth above. That is, this statement of facts is
not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment
standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed
evidence are presented in the light reasonably most favorable
to Mr. Farmer as the non-moving party with respect to the
motion for summary judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).
Department of Correction (“IDOC”) Policy and
Administrative Procedure 00-02-301, Offender Grievance
Process, is the IDOC policy governing the grievance process
and how an offender can exhaust his administrative remedies.
Here, Mr. Farmer's grievances span from 2015 to present.
The January 1, 2010, version of the Offender Grievance
Process applies to any grievance filed prior ...