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Ruiz v. Dooley

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

October 13, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants B. Dooley, Wimberly and Goltner (collectively, the “Defendants”). Plaintiff Alan Josue Ruiz (“Ruiz”), a former inmate of the Clark County Jail, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on November 16, 2016, against jail Officers Dooley, Wimberley, and Giltner alleging that while he was incarcerated in the jail, Officer Dooley assaulted him, and when he asked for medical help Officers Wimberley and Giltner refused to assist him. Ruiz's claim of excessive force was allowed to proceed against Dooley, and his claim of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs was allowed to proceed against Wimberley and Giltner. While Dooley has admitted that Ruiz exhausted his administrative remedies against him, Wimberley and Giltner have moved for summary judgment on the ground that Ruiz failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Ruiz has responded in opposition to summary judgment.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         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 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).

         If 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).


         A. Undisputed Facts

         Ruiz was an inmate in the Clark County, Indiana, Jail on September 22, 2016, when the circumstances giving rise to this lawsuit occurred. Captain Retha Boley (“Captain Boley”) is a Clark County Jail employee with knowledge of the jail's grievance system. According to Captain Boley, the jail follows a grievance procedure outlined in the Clark County Jail's Rules and Regulations Number 13.3.

         Jail inmates are orally advised of the grievance procedure and system upon their admission to the jail. There does not appear to be a time limit for making a grievance after being aggrieved. Grievances are first made orally to a pod officer, and then the inmate may request a grievance form through the jail's TIGER system. Captain Boley receives the requests daily and causes a grievance form to be delivered to the inmate. The completed forms are collected daily, and Captain Boley addresses them within ten days. Appeals from Captain Boley's decisions may be taken to the jail commander, who resolves the appeal within twenty days. The jail commander keeps records of grievances for three years.

         Captain Boley submitted the jail grievance records for the period when Ruiz was incarcerated, which includes grievances filed on and after September 22, 2016. The records reflect three grievances filed by Ruiz on September 22 and 23, 2016, and a few grievances filed later that complain about Dooley's actions on September 22. But these grievances and others never specifically mention officers or medical personnel declining or refusing to provide medical aid on September 22, 2016, or any other date.

         In opposition to summary judgment, Ruiz provided hand-written versions of his grievances and contended he exhausted his administrative remedies. Ruiz's hand-written exhibits are versions of selected grievances provided in exhibit 3 to their motion for summary judgment by defendants Wimberley and Giltner.

         B. Analysis

         Officers Wimberley and Giltner argue that Ruiz failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by the PLRA with respect to his claims against them.

         The PLRA requires that a prisoner exhaust his available administrative remedies before bringing a suit concerning prison or jail 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 ...

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