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Davis v. Kane

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

November 29, 2017

WILLIAM C. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
THOMAS R. KANE, ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF PRISONS, in his official capacity, Defendant.



         I. Background

         Plaintiff William C. Davis (“Mr. Davis”), is a federal prisoner currently confined at the Federal Prison Camp (“FPC”) in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mr. Davis filed his complaint on April 4, 2017, bringing a claim under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 706, alleging that he should have been approved to be placed in a Residential Reentry Center or halfway house, for twelve months instead of nine.

         Defendant Thomas R. Kane, Acting Director of the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), in his official capacity, filed a motion for summary judgment seeking resolution of the claim against him on the basis that Mr. Davis failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies. Mr. Davis 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. 19, is granted.

         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. Davis. 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. Davis as the non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment:

         The Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has promulgated an administrative remedy system which appears at 28 C.F.R. § 542.10, et seq., and BOP Program Statement 1330.18, Administrative Remedy Program (“P.S. 1330.18”), which was in effect at FPC Terre Haute during the entire time that Plaintiff was housed there. Dkt. No. 20-1, ¶ 4. The BOP administrative remedy process is a method by which an inmate may seek formal review of a complaint related to any aspect of his imprisonment. 28 C.F.R. § 542.10. To exhaust his remedies, an inmate must typically first file an informal remedy request through an appropriate institution staff member via a BP-8 prior to filing a formal administrative remedy request with the Warden, Regional Director, and General Counsel. 28 C.F.R. § 542.13; P.S. 1330.18 at 4.

         If the inmate is not satisfied with the response to his informal remedy (BP-8), he is required to address his complaint with the Warden via a BP-9. 28 C.F.R. § 542.14; P.S. 1330.18 at 4. An inmate is only permitted to include a single complaint or a reasonable number of closely ...

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