United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
NICHOLAS C. HINDMAN, Plaintiff,
MARK S INCH, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Defendant.
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
Nicolas C. Hindman is an inmate confined at the Federal
Prison Camp (FPC) in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mr. Hindman has
been housed at FPC Terre Haute since May 5, 2017. He is
serving a 15-month term of imprisonment for Wire Fraud and
Unlawful Financial Transactions. The BOP's website
reflects that his release date is June 5, 2018.
brings this action pursuant to the Administrative Procedures
Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 706. Mr. Hindman
alleges that defendant Mark S. Inch, Director of the Federal
Bureau of Prisons, in his official capacity, hereinafter
“BOP”, has denied Mr. Hindman placement in a
halfway house, home confinement, or Residential Reentry
Center (RRC), 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), and that the BOP
abused its discretion in applying 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)
(the “Second Chance Act”). The Second Chance Act
enlarges the maximum time a prisoner may spend in a halfway
house from six months to twelve months. It also gives the BOP
authority to place a prisoner in home confinement for the
shorter of 10 percent of the term of imprisonment of that
prisoner or 6 months.
Hindman seeks injunctive relief, specifically placement in a
halfway house for 12 months and home confinement for 6
argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because Mr.
Hindman failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with
respect to the claim contained in the Complaint, and because
18 U.S.C. § 3625 precludes review of Bureau of
Prisons' decisions regarding placement under the APA.
reasons explained below, the BOP's motion for summary
judgment, dkt , is granted. Disputes of
material fact remain on exhaustion. Even so, there is no
basis for relief under the APA, so the BOP is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.
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).
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
because Mr. Hindman did not exhaust his available
administrative remedies prior to filing this action. The
Prison Litigation Reform Act 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). It is 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 it.”).
submitted a declaration which reflects that Mr. Hindman had
not filed an administrative remedy request related to any
issue raised in the Complaint and had not filed any formal
administrative remedy request since he began his term of
incarceration. In response, Mr. Hindman argued that Case
Manager Shoemaker told him that he should not and could not
file an appeal through the grievance process. Under these
circumstances, there is a material fact in dispute regarding
whether the grievance process was available to Mr. Hindman
prior to filing this action. In Ross v. Blake, 136
S.Ct. 1850 (2016), the Supreme Court explained that an
administrative procedure is unavailable when “it
operates as a simple dead end, ” when it “might
be so opaque that it becomes, practically speaking, incapable
of use” or when “prison administrators thwart
inmates from taking advantage of a grievance process through
machination, misrepresentation, or intimidation.”
Id. at 1859-60. Whether Case Manager Shoemaker
thwarted Mr. Hindman's efforts to utilize the grievance
process or whether that process was available to Mr. Hindman
is in dispute. Resolution of this issue would necessitate a
hearing and for this reason the United States' motion for
summary judgment on the affirmative defense of exhaustion is
denied. For the reasons that follow, even if Mr. Hindman had
exhausted his administrative remedies prior to filing this
civil action he would not be entitled to relief.
Mr. Hindman's Supplemental Information
Hindman's supplement filed on March 6, 2018, states that
he has now exhausted his administrative remedies. He explains
that he “now finds himself with a projected date of
April 18, 2018, for release to halfway house and home
confinement.” Dkt. 20 at p. 2. ...