United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DIRECTING
ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT, AND DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND MOTION FOR JUDICIAL
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
John Bell, an inmate at the Wabash Valley Correctional
Facility (WVCF), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Mr. Bell alleges that the defendants violated
his Eighth Amendment rights through their deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs and committed
malpractice under state law.
defendants move for summary judgment on Mr. Bell's claims
arguing that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies
as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) before
filing this lawsuit. For the following reasons, the motion
for summary judgment, dkt. , is granted.
Mr. Bell's motion for preliminary injunction, dkt. ,
and motion for judicial notice, dkt. , are denied
as moot as the action is dismissed without
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 party asking for summary judgment “always
bears the initial responsibility of informing the district
court of the basis for its motion, ” relying on
submissions “which it believes demonstrate the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving
party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must “go
beyond the pleadings” and show that there is a genuine
issue for trial. Id. at 324. Both the party
“asserting that a fact cannot be, ” and a party
asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed, must support
their assertions by “citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, ” or by “showing that
the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence
of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce
admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
Statement of Facts
Bell is an inmate at WVCF and has been at all times relevant
to his claims in this case. The Indiana Department of
Correction (IDOC) has an Offender Grievance Process - IDOC
Policy and Administrative Procedure 00-02-301, 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. All offenders
are made aware of the offender grievance process during
orientation and a copy of the grievance process is available
in the law libraries.
the IDOC offender grievance program, offenders can grieve
actions of individual staff, including claims that facility
staff was deliberately indifferent or that staff retaliated
against them. Pursuant to the Grievance Process, an inmate
must first attempt to informally resolve his complaint.
Within five business days of the date of the incident, the
offender shall contact his Casework Manager, his Caseworker,
or other Unit Team staff member to request a State Form 52897
Offender Complaint - Informal Process Level. The offender is
then required to attempt to resolve his complaint informally
by contacting an appropriate staff member within five
business days of receiving the Offender Complaint form.
informal complaint process does not resolve the inmate's
issue within ten business days, he may then submit an
“Offender Grievance” to the Executive Assistant
of Grievance / Grievance Specialist, which must be submitted
within five business days of the date a staff member informs
the offender there will be no informal resolution to the
grievance, within five business days of the date the offender
refuses the informal resolution offered by staff, or the
tenth business day after the offender first seeks an informal
resolution from staff. The grievance submitted by the
offender is screened by the Grievance Specialist to determine
whether the submitted grievance meets the requirements for a
formal grievance as set forth in the IDOC grievance policy.
If it is determined that the grievance does not meet the
requirements of the policy, the grievance is returned to the
offender along with a state form 45475 “Return of
Grievance.” The Return of Grievance form shall indicate
the reason for the return. If an adequate grievance form is
received, the Grievance Specialist enters the grievance,
assigns the grievance a case number, and provides a receipt
for the grievance to the offender.
offender does not receive either a return of grievance form
or a grievance receipt within seven business days after
submitting a grievance, the offender must immediately notify
the Grievance Specialist of the missing grievance, retaining
a copy of the notice, so that the Grievance Specialist can
investigate the matter and respond to the offender. The
Grievance Specialist may accept a late grievance, or one that
does not conform to the requirements set forth in the IDOC
grievance policy, if an offender demonstrates good cause.
grievance is not resolved in a manner that satisfies the
offender, or if he did not receive a response to the
grievance within twenty working days of submission, the
offender may file an appeal to the Department of Offender
Grievance Management at IDOC's Central Office.
records maintained by IDOC and WVCF document whether an
offender attempted an informal grievance and filed a formal
grievance or grievance appeal.
1, 2017, Mr. Bell filed an informal Offender Complaint,
alleging that on October 27, 2016, Sergeant Ledford took his
prescribed knee brace during a cell inspection, and sent it
over to medical. See dkt. 27-1 at 37. Mr. Bell
further explains that on November 16, 2016, Dr. Chavez sent
emails to several departments within medical to (1) locate
the knee brace; (2) determine the type of support that was
ordered; and (3) order further appropriate support for him.
See id. Nurse Robinson responded that a knee brace
was given to him by medical on November 23, 2016, and that
the confiscation of his property was not a medical issue, and
the medical department did not have his knee brace.
on May 15, 2017, Mr. Bell filed a formal Offender Grievance
that was returned as untimely. Dkt. 27-1 at 35. In his formal
Offender Grievance, Mr. Bell again raised the issue that on
October 27, 2016, Sergeant Ledford and other officers
confiscated his leg brace and allegedly brought it to
medical. He further explains that in a November 2016 visit,
Dr. Chavez attempted to locate the leg brace, to determine
the type of support ordered, and order further appropriate