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Bowling v. Jordan

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

November 22, 2017

TINA JORDAN, Defendant.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court.

         Entry Denying Motion for Summary Judgment on Exhaustion

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Steven B. Bowling ("Mr. Bowling") is a state prisoner currently confined at the New Castle Correctional Facility. Mr. Bowling filed his complaint on February 15, 2017, alleging in relevant part that on December 25, 2015, while confined at the Plainfield Correctional Facility ("Plainfield"), he broke his nose but defendant Nurse Tina Jordan refused to call him out on sick call to treat his nose. He further alleged that Nurse Jordan falsely documented that Mr. Bowling refused treatment on that day (and that she just wanted to relax on the holiday). He also alleged that he had filled out a Health Care Request form for a broken nose, pain, and anguish. In the Court's screening Entry, it allowed the claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, under the Eighth Amendment, to proceed against Nurse Jordan. Dkt. No. 7.

         Defendant Jordan filed a motion for summary judgment seeking resolution of the claim against her on the basis that Mr. Bowling failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies. Mr. Bowling opposed the motion for summary judgment and the defendant replied. For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendant's motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 18, is denied.

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standards

         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). A dispute is genuine only if a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. Id. If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no "genuine" dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). 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).

         "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 the motion for summary judgment is the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"'), which requires that a prisoner exhaust his available administrative remedies before bringing a suit concerning prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002). "[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).

         "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)). "In order to exhaust administrative remedies, a prisoner must take all steps prescribed by the prison's grievance system." Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 397 (7th Cir. 2004).

         It is the defendant's burden to establish that the administrative process was available to Mr. Bowling. See Thomas v. Reese, 787 F.3d 845, 847 (7th Cir. 2015) ("Because exhaustion is an affirmative defense, the defendants must establish that an administrative remedy was available and that [the plaintiff] failed to pursue it."). "[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).

         B. Undisputed Facts

         On the basis of the pleadings and the expanded record, and specifically on the portions of that record which comply with the requirements of Rule 56(c), the following facts, construed in the manner most favorable to Mr. Bowling as the non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment:

         As noted, Mr. Bowling was incarcerated at Plainfield during the time relevant to the incident alleged in his complaint. He was then transferred to Westville Correctional Facility ("WCU"), and later to New ...

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