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Warren v. Corizon Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

November 13, 2017

MARC T. WARREN, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON INC., DICK BROWN, SWARTZENGRUBBER Nurse, CHAVEZ M.D., Defendants.

          ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, WARNING DEFENDANTS' COUNSEL REGARDING FUTURE LEGALLY FRIVOLOUS ARGUMENTS, AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, United States District Court Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Marc Warren, who at all relevant times was incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”), brought this civil rights action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Corizon, Inc., Dick Brown, Nurse Swartzengrubber, and Dr.

         Chavez. Mr. Warren alleges that the defendants provided him, or were responsible for providing him, medication to which they knew he was allergic. The defendants move for summary judgment on their affirmative defense that Mr. Warren failed to exhaust his administrative remedies regarding this claim before bringing this action as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is denied. Filing No. 38. Moreover, the defendants' counsel is warned that future legally frivolous arguments made in support of their motions for summary judgment are sanctionable under Rule 11 and 18 U.S.C. § 1927.

         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 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).

         II.

         Background

         As stated, the defendants move for summary judgment on their affirmative defense that Mr. Warren's claims are 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 facts that follow are drawn from the evidence submitted by the parties, all of which are undisputed.

         The Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) has an Offender Grievance Process (“OGP” or “administrative remedy process”) through which inmates, including those at Wabash Valley, can grieve issues related to their conditions of confinement, such as the claims at issue here. The OGP in effect at all times relevant to this action consisted of three stages: the informal grievance stage, the filing of a formal grievance, and the filing of a grievance appeal. The OGP is complete, and all administrative remedies are fully exhausted, once the inmate has received a response to his grievance appeal.

         The defendants submit the majority of their evidence via the declaration of Teresa Littlejohn, who at all relevant times was the Grievance Specialist at Wabash Valley. As such, she was responsible for entering grievances and responses thereto into IDOC's grievance tracking system and is the custodian of grievance records at Wabash Valley. Ms. Littlejohn attached a copy of Mr. Warren's Grievance History Log to her declaration. The Grievance History Log states that, during his time at Wabash Valley, Mr. Warren filed one formal grievance (#94014), which was denied but not appealed. That grievance complained of allergic reactions to the “cheap medications” prescribed to him by his medical providers. Filing No. 39-3 at 3.

         Mr. Warren submitted with his response brief a declaration sworn under penalty of perjury that sets forth his version of events. He attests that he placed the denial of his formal grievance- at the bottom of which he signed and checked a box stating that he disagreed with the resolution- “in the counselor's box in the P-Housing Unit on December 11, 2016.” Filing No. 43 at 10. But, he says, he “never received a grievance appeal form back from the grievance specialist.” Id. Mr. Warren further attests that the OGP “does not state in what manner I am to turn in a formal grievance appeal request; but the informal custom is to place these formal grievance appeal requests in the counselor's box in your housing unit [which is what I did].” Id. He submits a copy of the document he placed in his counselor's box with his declaration. See Id. at 12.[1]

         III.

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