United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
William T. Lawrence, Judge
Schwartz is in the custody of the Indiana Department of
Correction (IDOC). He takes medication for seizures and a
heart condition. On February 14, 2017, while he was
incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility
(WVCF), he suffered some type of seizure. He was taken in
handcuffs and chains to the infirmary. There he fell and
landed on his face, and medical personnel thought he was on
heroin or methamphetamine. He was injected with two doses of
Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment, but kept protesting
that he was not using drugs. Finally, a drug screening
officer arrived and tested Mr. Schwartz's urine,
concluding that Mr. Schwartz was not overdosing. Medical
personnel then put Mr. Schwartz on suicide watch, where he
was held without his clothes or property for over a week
until outside drug screens came back clear. He was then
removed from suicide watch.
Schwartz asserts that as a result of receiving the multiple
Narcan shots when he was not overdosing on opioids, he
suffers problems with his eyesight, problems breathing, and
loss of use of his left arm. He brought this 42 U.S.C. §
1983 action against the medical personnel for their actions
during and following his treatment for the seizure, and
against the correctional officers for allowing him to fall on
his face while handcuffed and chained.
defendants move for summary judgment contending that Mr.
Schwartz failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior
to filing this lawsuit as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Standard of Review
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 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).
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 this motion for summary
judgment is the PLRA, which requires that “[n]o action
shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under
section 1983 . . . until such administrative remedies as are
available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e;
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). Exhaustion of available
administrative remedies “‘means using all steps
that the agency holds out, and doing so properly (so that the
agency addresses the issues on the merits).'”
Id. at 90 (quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286
F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002)). Proper use of the
facility's grievance system requires a prisoner “to
file complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time
[as] the prison's administrative rules require.”
Pozo, 286 F.3d at 1025; see also Dole v.
Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006). The
exhaustion requirement “is an affirmative defense that
a defendant has the burden of proving.” King v.
McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 893 (7th Cir. 2015).
The Grievance System
IDOC has an Offender Grievance Process (“OGP”)
through which inmates, including those at WVCF, can grieve
issues related to their conditions of confinement, such as
the claims at issue here. The OGP in effect at all times
relevant to this action consisted of three stages: the
informal grievance stage, the filing of a formal grievance,
and the filing of a grievance appeal. The OGP is complete,
and all administrative remedies are fully exhausted, once the
inmate has received a response to his grievance appeal.
Grievances must be filed timely, or good cause shown
otherwise, in order to comply with the grievance process.
Dkt. No. 41-2 (IDOC Offender Grievance Process).
Evidence and Discussion
submit the majority of their evidence through the affidavit
of Teresa Littlejohn, the WVCF grievance specialist. Dkt. No.
41-1. She was responsible for entering offender grievances
and responses thereto into IDOC's grievance tracking
system and is the custodian of grievance records at WVCF.
Id. Ms. Littlejohn reviewed the grievance records
for Mr. Schwartz while he was incarcerated at WVCF.
Id. These records show that Mr. Schwartz submitted
an informal grievance on July 12, 2017, concerning the
February 14 incident. Id. In this informal grievance
he complained that defendant Riggs and the medical staff
injected him with two doses of Narcan which has in turn
caused him subsequent problems. Dkt. No. 41-3. The informal
grievance was responded to on July 19, 2017, by the medical
staff, saying the medical staff “did nothing
wrong.” Id. Mr. Schwartz signed section 4 of
the informal grievance form on July 21, 2017, indicating his
disagreement with the findings. Id. This lawsuit was
filed on July 20, 2017, one day before Mr. Schwartz signed
his disagreement with the informal grievance.
to the OGP, Mr. Schwartz's next grievance step was to
initiate a formal grievance within a certain time after the
denial of the informal grievance. Dkt. No. 41-2, § X.B.
Mr. Schwartz signed his formal grievance on August 10, 2017.
Dkt. No. 41-3, p. 3. Ms. Littlejohn returned the formal
grievance to Mr. Schwartz for being untimely, id. at
p. 2, but it is not clear whether it was untimely from the
date of the February 14 incident or the denial of the July 12
informal grievance. Mr. Schwartz did not attempt an appeal or
take any further actions to explain the delays in submitting
his grievances. The formal grievance attempt, dated August
10, 2017, was made three weeks after this lawsuit
response to defendants' motion, Mr. Schwartz asserts that
he took his grievance as far as he could. Dkt. No. 43. He
asserts that he kept trying to mail the grievance form to the
Central Office but that Ms. Littlejohn kept returning it back
to him. Id. at p. 5. As to the initial delay in
filing his informal grievance, Mr. Schwartz asserts that
after the February 14, 2017, incident he was placed on