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Manley v. Sevier

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

August 23, 2017

JAMES E. MANLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK SEVIER, KOPPENSPARGER, THOMAS, KELLI BRADLEY, R. HOBBS, J. LARIMORE, R. BEEMER, and ROBERT EUTZ, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO, United States District Judge

         James E. Manley, a prisoner without a lawyer, is suing eight defendants for retaliating against him in violation of the First Amendment. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that Manley did not exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) which prohibits prisoners from bringing an action in federal court with respect to prison conditions “until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” “Failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense that a defendant has the burden of proving.” King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 893 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Manley acknowledges that “A grievance program existed at Miami Correctional Facility at the time of the events alleged by plaintiff, and complaints regarding actions of staff could be addressed through that program, including allegations of retaliation by staff.”[1] ECF 71 at 1. The parties do not dispute either the existence nor terms of the grievance procedure as it existed in 2013 when the relevant events occurred in this case.[2]Neither do the parties dispute the relevant facts. Rather, the dispute here is how the law should be applied to those facts.

         In support of the motion for summary judgment, the defendants submitted the declaration[3] of Angela Heishman. She is an administrative assistant at the Miami Correctional Facility who “reviewed Offender Manley's records and grievance history.” ECF 62-1 at 6. She declares that, “IDOC records indicate that Offender Manley has never filed a grievance concerning his allegations of retaliation by Defendants Sevier, Hobbs, Eutz, Bradley, Beemer, Kochensparger, Larimore, and Thomas.” Id. In response, Manley raises four arguments for why summary judgment should not be granted even though the IDOC does not have a record of him having filed a grievance alleging that any of these defendants retaliated against him.

         First Manley argues, “that Angela Heishman wrote to plaintiff stating that ‘you have exhausted all of your administrative remedies, and I cannot offer you any other type of relief.'” ECF 71 at 1 (brackets omitted). However, that statement was not made in reference to a grievance. It was made in reference to an appeal from a disciplinary hearing where Manley was found guilty of unauthorized computer access. ECF 23-2 at 36. Here is the full response written by Heishman:

The appeal you submitted for case # MCF 13-11-0057 has previously been addressed. Your response was sent to you on December 17, 2013. Since a liberty loss is not involved, this was your final level of appeal. You have exhausted all your administrative remedies, and I cannot offer you any other type of relief.

ECF 30-3 at 58. Because Heishman did not tell Manley that he had exhausted the administrative remedies related to a grievance alleging that he had been retaliated against by any of the defendants, this is not a basis for denying the summary judgment motion.

         Second, Manley argues that the grievance process could not provide him with a meaningful remedy because offenders are not permitted to seek, “staff discipline, job reassignment, and/or training . . ..”[4] ECF 71 at 1. However, there is no futility exception to the exhaustion requirement. Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, n.6 (2001). “Exhaustion is necessary even if the prisoner is requesting relief that the relevant administrative review board has no power to grant, such as monetary damages, or if the prisoner believes that exhaustion is futile. The sole objective of [42 U.S.C.] § 1997e(a) is to permit the prison's administrative process to run its course before litigation begins.” Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 808-809 (7th Cir. 2006) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Because it is not relevant what relief Manley was seeking, this is not a basis for denying the summary judgment motion.

         Third, Manley argues that “in his grievance appeal concerning retaliation by Lt. Sterling, the plaintiff did state that defendants Sevier, Hobbs, and Bradley were involved in retaliatory conduct against plaintiff and those claims of retaliation were ignored by the final reviewing authority.” ECF 71 at 2 (footnote omitted). On October 3, 2013, Manley filed a grievance (#78741) alleging that Lt. Sterling retaliated against him by filing a false conduct report on September 27, 2013, because Manley had filed a grievance against him. ECF 62-1 at 48. Grievance 78741 makes no mention of any of the eight defendants named in this lawsuit. Neither did it (nor could it) make any mention of their alleged acts of retaliation which had not yet occurred. Neither did it allege that he was being retaliated against for any of the reasons these eight defendants are alleged to have retaliated against him.[5] Nevertheless, in his appeal from the denial of grievance 78741, Manley named three of the defendants (Superintendent Mark Sevier, Internal Affairs Investigator R. Hobbs, and Classification Supervisor Kelli Bradley) and alleged they retaliated against him. ECF 62-1 at 45. Manley argues this was permissible because an “[a]ppeal may contain additional facts or information regarding the original issue and may raise concerns regarding the response from the previous level . . ..” ECF 71 at 2 (quotation mark omitted). That is true, but an appeal may “not raise new or unrelated concerns.” ECF 62-1 at 30. Manley believes it is enough that he was alleging other instances of retaliation. However, the added retaliatory acts were done on different days by different people for different reasons. As such, they were new and unrelated to his original grievance against Lt. Sterling. “For a prisoner to exhaust his remedies within the meaning of § 1997e(a), he must file complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison's administrative rules require.” Burrell v. Powers, 431 F.3d. 282, 285 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Because Manley did not do so, his inclusion of these claims in the unrelated appeal of grievance 78741 is not a basis for denying the summary judgment motion.

         Fourth, Manley argues “[t]he PLRA does not limit exhaustion to grievance processes. By alerting prison officials to the problem through the classification and disciplinary processes, plaintiff satisfied the exhaustion requirement (see: Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013)).” ECF 71 at 2. In Turley, the Seventh Circuit explained that, “Turley's February 2009 grievance, which was pursued to a final decision by the Director, suffices to exhaust the claims challenging lockdown policy.” Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 650 (7th Cir. 2013). Turley makes no mention of the plaintiff in that case having used either the classification or disciplinary processes to alert prison officials. Turley makes no mention of classification or disciplinary proceedings substituting for the grievance process. Turley is not a basis for denying the summary judgment motion. Moreover, the Seventh Circuit has taken a “strict compliance approach to exhaustion.” Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006). Thus, “unless the prisoner completes the administrative process by following the rules the state has established for that process, exhaustion has not occurred.” Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1023 (7th Cir. 2002). Because Manley did not do so, the summary judgment motion must be granted.

         For these reasons, motion for summary judgment (ECF 62) is GRANTED and this case is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case and enter judgment accordingly.

         SO ORDERED.

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