United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT ON EXHAUSTION AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL
William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court.
Ronald Richard Smith is a federal prisoner currently confined
at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, New
Jersey. Mr. Smith filed his complaint on March 3, 2017, in
the Northern District of West Virginia and it was then
transferred to this district.
Smith was formerly incarcerated at the United States
Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana (“USP Terre
Haute”). His claims are brought pursuant to the theory
recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics
Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). He alleges that in January
2016, when he was incarcerated at the USP Terre Haute, he was
discriminated against for being a Black Muslim. More
specifically, he alleges that Lt. Baker and Lt. Tuscy
violated his religious freedom by taking away his Friday
Jummah Prayer in violation of the First Amendment to the
United States Constitution. He also alleges that these
defendants violated his rights under the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, et seq.
Lt. Baker and Lt. Tuscy filed a motion for summary judgment
seeking resolution of the claims against them on the basis
that Mr. Smith failed to exhaust his available administrative
remedies. Mr. Smith opposed the motion for summary judgment
and the defendants replied. For the reasons explained in this
Entry, the defendants' motion for summary judgment, Dkt.
No. 40, is granted.
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).
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).
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).
the defendants' burden to establish that the
administrative process was available to Mr. Smith. 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).
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. Smith as the
non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of the motion for
Smith was incarcerated at USP Terre Haute from March 30,
2015, through April 11, 2016. He was subsequently
incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary-Hazelton
(“USP Hazelton”) in West Virginia from April 15,
2016, until April 3, 2017.
Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has promulgated an
administrative remedy system that appears at 28 C.F.R.
§§ 542.10, et seq., and BOP Program
Statement 1330.18, Administrative Remedy Procedures for
Inmates (“P.S. 1330.18”). Dkt. No. 40-1
(Schalburg Decl.), ¶ 4. See BOP Program
Statement 1330.18 at
administrative remedy system was in effect at USP Terre Haute
during the entire time that Mr. Smith was housed there. All
BOP Program Statements are available for inmate access via
their respective institution law library.
administrative remedy process is a method by which an inmate
may seek 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 formal administrative
remedy requests with the Warden, Regional Director, and
General Counsel. 28 C.F.R. § 542.13; P.S. 1330.18 at 4.
inmate is not satisfied with the response to his informal
remedy, BP-8, he is required to first address his complaint
with the Warden via a BP-9. 28 C.F.R. § 542.14; P.S.
1330.18 at 4. Next, if the inmate is dissatisfied with the
Warden's response, he may appeal to the Regional Director
via a BP-10. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15; P.S. 1330.18 at 6-7.
Finally, if he is dissatisfied with the Regional
Director's response, then the inmate may appeal to the
General Counsel via a BP-11. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15; P.S.
1330.18 at 7. An inmate who has filed administrative
remedies at all required levels and who has received a
response to his appeal from the General Counsel is deemed to
have exhausted his administrative remedies as to the specific
issue, or issues, properly raised therein. See 28
C.F.R. § 542.15 (“Appeal to the General Counsel is
the final administrative appeal.”). Following