United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
STEVEN W. PRITT, Plaintiff,
DEPUTY BRANDOU, Defendant.
ENTRY DISCUSSING CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Steven Pritt, who at all relevant times was incarcerated at
the Marion County Jail ("MCJ"), brought this civil
rights action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against defendant Deputy Brandou. Mr. Pritt alleges that
Deputy Brandou assaulted him on July 14, 2016, without cause
during his short stay at MCJ. Deputy Brandou raised the
affirmative defense that Mr. Pritt failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies regarding this claim before bringing
this action as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act
("PLRA"). In response, Mr. Pritt filed a
"dispositive motion" arguing that he exhausted his
administrative remedies, which the Court construed as a
motion for summary judgment. Deputy Brandou filed a cross
motion for summary judgment. Mr. Pritt has responded, and
Deputy Brandou has replied. For the reasons explained in this
Entry, the undisputed evidence shows that MCJ's grievance
process was not available to Mr. Pritt, and thus Deputy
Brandou's exhaustion defense must be
Standard of Review
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 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).
existence of cross-motions for summary judgment does not. . .
imply that there are no genuine issues of material
fact." R.J. Corman Derailment Servs., LLC v.
Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, 335
F.3d 643, 647 (7th Cir. 2003). Specifically, "[p]arties
have different burdens of proof with respect to particular
facts; different legal theories will have an effect on which
facts are material; and the process of taking the facts in
the light most favorable to the non- movant, first for one
side and then for the other, may highlight the point that
neither side has enough to prevail without a trial."
Id. at 648.
stated, the parties both move for summary judgment on Deputy
Brandou's affirmative defense that Mr. Pritt's claim
is barred under the exhaustion provision of the PLRA.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. That provision requires
a prisoner to first exhaust his available administrative
remedies before filing a lawsuit. The parties both present
evidence supporting their respective positions. The Court
will set forth the evidence presented by each party in turn,
all of which is undisputed.
Deputy Brandou's Evidence
Pritt was transferred to MCJ on July 13, 2016. All inmates
receive an Inmate Handbook upon arrival at MCJ. The Inmate
Handbook, among other things, sets forth the grievance
procedure for inmates at MCJ. The Inmate Handbook states,
"[a]ny and all complaints or grievances concerning the
jail, its conditions, its functions (including medical
services), or the staff may be forwarded to the grievance
deputy." Filing No. 39-1 at 5. The complete grievance
process includes three steps: (1) informal grievance; (2)
formal grievance; and (3) grievance appeal.
the informal grievance step is relevant here, as it is
undisputed that Mr. Pritt did not file an informal grievance.
The Inmate Handbook states that "[a]n
informal grievance shall be filed
within forty-eight (48) hours of the incident on an informal
grievance form, which may be requested from the
mailroom staff" Filing No.
39-1 at 5 (emphasis in original). Further, "[a]n
informal grievance form may be
submitted to mailroom staff in an envelope also provided by
mailroom staff. Mailroom staff will deliver the informal
grievance to the Grievance Deputy." Filing No. 39-1 at
5. If this is completed, the Inmate Handbook provides that
"[a] written resolution will be delivered to the inmate
within fifteen (15) days." Filing No. 39-1 at 5.
than the Inmate Handbook, the only other evidence submitted
by Deputy Brandou is the affidavit of Rachel Gohman, who is
the Lead Paralegal at the Marion County Sheriffs Office. As
such, she is familiar with the grievance database, and
attests that a search of the database "found no record
of any complaint or grievance filed by Steven Pritt in July
2016." Filing No. 39-1 at 1. Beyond this, she testifies
only that all inmates received a copy of the Inmate Handbook
when they arrive at MCJ. See Filing No. 39-1 at 1.
Mr. Pritt's Evidence
Pritt, in his initial motion for summary judgment, argues
that the remedy process was unavailable to him. Specifically,
he argues that he was denied grievance forms and, due to his
physical and mental condition, was unable to complete the
grievance process. After Deputy Brandou filed his motion for
summary judgment with the evidence outlined above, Mr. Pritt
submitted a wide range of evidence and arguments regarding
both exhaustion and the merits of his underlying claim (and
other claims not proceeding in this action). Only a small
portion of it is relevant to the question of exhaustion, and
is set forth below.
Pritt submitted two declarations. The first, which was
submitted at the beginning of this action in support of his
motion for a preliminary injunction, details a litany of
things that occurred to him during his short stay at MCJ.
Relevant here are the following attestations. Early in his
stay at MCJ, an unnamed Deputy (through discovery identified
as defendant Deputy Brandou) escorted Mr. Pritt to medical.
During the escort, Deputy Brandou slammed him against the
wall, stomped on his left foot, and kneed him in the thigh,
yelling "you don't listen." Filing No. 40-1 at
12. Once at medical, the nurse took Mr. Pritt's vitals
and asked if he had open wounds. Deputy Brandou gave Mr.
Pritt the "stink eye," and Mr. Pritt said "no
not yet but prob[ably] some bruises." Filing No. 40-1 at
12. Mr. Pritt explained his other health problems and
requested his medication, but the nurse said he needs to
submit a medical request. Filing No. 40-1 ...