United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY GRANTING MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT,
DISMISSING STATE LAW CLAIM AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL
MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
Cotton filed this action on June 16, 2017, contending that
his civil rights were violated while he was incarcerated in
the Indiana Department of Correction ("IDOC"). Mr.
Cotton claims that the imposition of a restitution order in a
2015 disciplinary conviction with no set amount, no end date,
and without taking into account the payment by medical
insurance, violated his due process rights. The defendants
moved for summary judgment arguing that Mr. Cotton 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.
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).
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).
times relevant to his Complaint, Mr. Cotton was confined by
the IDOC at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility ("Wabash
Valley"). The IDOC has an Offender Grievance Process
which is intended to permit inmates to resolve concerns and
complaints relating to their conditions of confinement prior
to filing suit in court. As an inmate at Wabash Valley, Mr.
Cotton had access to the offender grievance process. All
offenders are made aware of the offender grievance process
during orientation and a copy of the grievance process is
available in various locations within the prisons.
grievance process consists of three steps. It begins with the
offender contacting staff to discuss the matter or incident
subject to the grievance and seeking informal resolution. If
the offender is unable to obtain a resolution of the
grievance informally, he may submit a formal grievance to the
grievance officer of the facility where the incident
occurred. If the formal written grievance is not resolved in
a manner that satisfies the offender, he may submit an
appeal. Exhaustion of the grievance procedure requires
pursuing a grievance to the final step. A grievance must be
filed within twenty (20) working days from the date of the
IDOC's grievance records for Mr. Cotton reflect that he
filed three grievances related to the restitution order.
However, none of those grievances were appealed.
defendants argue that Mr. Cotton failed to exhaust his
available administrative remedies as required by the PLRA
with respect to his claims against them.
PLRA requires that a prisoner exhaust his available
administrative remedies before bringing a suit concerning
prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Porter v.
Nussle, 534U.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 requirement is not subject to either
waiver by a court or futility or inadequacy exceptions.
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, n.6 (2001);
McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S. 140, 112 S.Ct. 1081
(1992) ("Where Congress specifically mandates,
exhaustion is required.").
defendants have shown that Mr. Cotton failed to avail himself
of all administrative remedies before filing this civil
action. Mr. Cotton does not directly dispute that he did not
appeal his grievances related to his restitution order.
Instead, Mr. Cotton states that he attempted to exhaust his
remedies many times. As evidence of these attempts, Mr.
Cotton attaches one response to his grievance and several
requests for interviews. Dkt. 25-1. But filing multiple
grievances on the same issue without filing any grievance
appeals, or requesting multiple times to discuss the issue
with an administrator does not comply with the
institution's policy for exhausting administrative
remedies. The defendants assert, and Mr. Cotton does not
dispute, that he was given a copy of the disciplinary policy
when he arrived at Wabash Valley. Mr. Cotton does not allege
that administrative remedies were unavailable to him. It is
therefore undisputed that Mr. Cotton failed to exhaust his
available administrative remedies as required by the PLRA
before filing this lawsuit.
consequence of these circumstances, in light of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a), is that Mr. Cotton's action should not
have been brought and must now be dismissed without
prejudice. See Ford v. Johnson,362 F.3d 395, 401
(7th Cir. 2004) (holding that ...