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Thomas v. Levine

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

November 14, 2017

LEONARD THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT LEVINE, ROGER PERRY, DOUGLAS JONES, NANCY GEMMER, MICHAEL PERSON M.D., DAVID R. RICHARDSON M.H.P., BARBARA EICHMAN, NICHOLAS WARDELL M.H.P., CHARLES DALRYMPLE M.H.P., EDDIE TAYLOR Ph.D., Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON DEFENDANTS' AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE OF EXHAUSTION

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff Leonard Thomas, an offender incarcerated within the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The amended complaint alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Thomas's serious medical condition in violation of the Eighth Amendment. See dkt 27 (amended complaint). Mr. Thomas has a longstanding diagnosis of mental illness, specifically, “chronic anxiety, paranoid type schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder.” Dk. 66 at ¶ 2. Mr. Thomas alleges that between December 2013 through June 5, 2015, Defendants denied him anti-psychotic medications and other mental health care while he was an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. See dkt 28 (screening order).

         Defendants Scott Levine, M.D., Roger Perry, Ph.D, Douglas Jones, MHP, Michael Person, M.D., David R. Richardson MHP, Barbara Eichman, M.D., Charles Dalrymple, ARS, Eddie Taylor Ph.D., Nicholas Wardell, MHP, and Nancy Gemmer, Ph.D, (collectively “Defendants”), seek resolution of this action through summary judgment. Defendants assert that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Mr. Thomas 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.

         Counsel was recruited by this Court to assist Mr. Thomas in both drafting an amended complaint and opposing this motion.[1] Mr. Thomas argues in response to the motion for summary judgment that he exhausted the administrative remedies that were available to him prior to filing this suit, that his administrative remedies were not available to him, and that Defendants lack sufficient evidence to prove that Mr. Thomas did not fully exhaust his administrative remedies.

         For the reasons explained below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment, dkt. 49, is 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). 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 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).

         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 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. Undisputed Facts

         Applying the standard set forth above, the following facts are undisputed.

         A. Offender Grievance Process

         During all times relevant to his complaint, Mr. Thomas was an inmate incarcerated with the IDOC at Pendleton Correctional Facility. The IDOC has an Offender Grievance Process. The purpose of the Offender Grievance Process is to provide administrative means by which inmates may resolve concerns and complaints related to their conditions of confinement. Offenders are made aware of the Offender Grievance Process during orientation and a copy of the Offender Grievance Process is available in various locations within the prisons, including the law library.

         The Offender Grievance Process consists of three stages. First, an offender must attempt to resolve the grievance informally through officials at the facility by filing a Step 1 informal complaint form. The informal grievance complaint must be filed within five days of the incident at issue. The informal resolution step is interactive, and requires the offender to communicate with prison staff through open and courteous discussion before turning to the grievance process. ...


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