United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JAMES F. GRIFFITH, Plaintiff,
F. BRANNICK C/O, D. HASKINS, YARBAR Lt., DEVINE SGT., E. DRADA Sgt., N. LYDAY Sgt., PHILLIPS Sgt., Defendants.
ENTRY DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STAY AND
MOTION TO COMPEL
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Defendants Motion for
Summary Judgment. Dkt. . Plaintiff James Griffith
(“Mr. Griffith”) an Indiana inmate, brought this
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an incident of
excessive force occurring on June 2, 2016, at the Wabash
Valley Correctional Facility. Defendants are Indiana
Department of Correction officers alleged to have used
excessive force on Mr. Griffith. They seek summary judgment
because, they contend, Mr. Griffith failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies before commencing his lawsuit as the
Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a),
requires. Also pending is Plaintiff's Motion to Stay the
Decision on the Pending Motion for Summary Judgment, dkt.
 and Plaintiff's motion to Compel, dkt. . For
reasons stated below, all of the pending motions are
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate “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). The movant bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
of its motion, and identifying those portions of designated
evidence that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). After “a properly supported
motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must
set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation marks and
factual issue is material only if resolving the factual issue
might change the outcome of the case under the governing law.
See Clifton v. Schafer, 969 F.2d 278, 281 (7th Cir.
1992). A factual issue is genuine only if there is sufficient
evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in favor
of the non-moving party on the evidence presented. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In deciding a motion for
summary judgment, the court “may not ‘assess the
credibility of witnesses, choose between competing reasonable
inferences, or balance the relative weight of conflicting
evidence.'” Bassett v. I.C. Sys., Inc.,
715 F.Supp.2d 803, 808 (N.D. Ill. 2010) (quoting Stokes
v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chi., 599 F.3d 617, 619
(7th Cir. 2010)). Instead, it must view all the evidence in
the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and resolve all factual disputes in favor of the
non-moving party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
PRISON LITIGATION REFORM ACT STANDARDS
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) 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).
The exhaustion requirement of the PLRA is one of
“proper exhaustion” 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, 84
(2006). This means that the prisoner plaintiff must have
completed “the administrative review process in
accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including
deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal
court.” Id. at 84; 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)).
the defendant's burden to establish that the
administrative process was available to the plaintiff.
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
inmate . . . must exhaust available remedies, but need not
exhaust unavailable ones.” Ross v. Blake, 136
S.Ct. 1850, 1858 (2016).
MR. GRIFFITH'S GRIEVANCE
three days of the alleged excessive force, Mr. Griffith
started the informal grievance process. Several informal
grievances were submitted and rejected for reasons irrelevant
to this discussion. The relevant grievance for summary
judgment purposes is dated June 24, 2016. Dkt. 26-1, p. 11.
In this informal grievance, Mr. Griffith complains about
being dragged out of his cell and down stairs, and writes
that his minor offense of refusing a housing assignment
“did not warrant the use of physical force.”
notation in the form section titled “Explanation and
how resolved. If not resolved explain why not, ” reads,
“I have reviewed your complaint. This incident was
turned over to the Office of Investigations and Intelligence
for investigation.” It is signed “Lt. C.
Nicholson” and dated July 1, 2016. Dkt. 26-1, p. 11.