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Kirkley v. Johnson

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 30, 2017

ALLAN J. KIRKLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
NURSE JOHNSON AND LT. STORMS, Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING UNOPPOSED MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Allan J. Kirkley filed this action on February 7, 2017, contending that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at the New Castle Correctional Facility (“New Castle”). Specifically, Mr. Kirkley alleges that on August 5, 2016, Mr. Kirkley was assaulted by another offender in I-1 pod at New Castle Correctional Facility. During the assault, Mr. Kirkley was injured and he continues to suffer from headaches, dizziness, jaw pain, and loss of vision. Defendant Nurse Johnson allegedly failed to provide Mr. Kirkley with necessary medical care after the assault and defendant Lt. Storms refused to give Mr. Kirkley health care forms, grievance forms or attorney calls effectively obstructing Mr. Kirkley's access to medical attention. As a result, Mr. Kirkley was denied necessary medical care from August 5, 2016, until he was released from segregation on or about August 22, 2016.

         Both the State defendant, Lt. Storms and the medical defendant, Nurse Johnson move for summary judgment arguing that Mr. Kirkley failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), before filing this lawsuit.

         For the reasons explained below, the unopposed motion for summary judgment, dkts [27], and motion to join the State defendant's motion for summary judgment [32], are granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         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).

         Once 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).

         “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 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 ordinary meaning of the word ‘available' is ‘capable of use for the accomplishment of a purpose, ' and that which ‘is accessible or may be obtained.'” Ross v. Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1858 (2016) (internal quotation omitted). “[A]n inmate is required to exhaust those, but only those, grievance procedures that are capable of use to obtain some relief for the action complained of.” Id. at 1859 (internal quotation omitted).

         “[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 [as] 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).

         Because exhaustion is an affirmative defense, “the burden of proof is on the prison officials.” Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 680 (7th Cir. 2006). So here, the defendants bear the burden of demonstrating that Mr. Kirkley failed to exhaust all available administrative remedies before he filed this suit. Id. at 681.

         II. Undisputed Facts

         No response to the motions for summary judgment was filed by Mr. Kirkley and the deadline for doing so has passed. The consequence is that Mr. Kirkley has conceded the defendants' version of the events. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission.”). This does not alter the standard for assessing a Rule 56 motion, but it does “reduc[e] the pool” from which the facts and inferences relative to such a motion may be drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).

         Accordingly, the following facts are accepted as true:

         At all times relevant to this action, Mr. Kirkley was confined at New Castle. Offenders housed at New Castle are informed about and ...


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