United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
WALTON PRATT, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. Dkt. . Plaintiff David Lewicki
(“Lewicki”), is a prisoner incarcerated at
Pendleton Correctional Facility (“PCF”). In this
civil rights action, Lewicki alleges that the Defendants
denied him proper heating and cooling in his cell at PCF
between September 2, 2016 and June 10, 2017, exposing him to
extremely high and low temperatures and causing him
significant physical and mental injuries. The Court screened
the Complaint and permitted Lewicki to proceed with Eighth
Amendment claims against all four Defendants in their
official and individual capacities.
Defendants have moved for summary judgment on the basis that
Lewicki failed to exhaust available administrative remedies
before bringing this lawsuit as required by the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a). For the reasons set forth below, the
Defendants' Motion, Dkt. , is granted in
part and denied in part.
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.”
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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 this motion for summary
judgment is the 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.” Porter,
534 U.S. 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 Lewicki. 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).
following facts, construed in the manner most favorable to
Lewicki as the non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of the
motion for summary judgment.
The Grievance Process
times relevant to his Complaint, Lewicki was confined by the
Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) at PCF.
The IDOC has an Offender Grievance Process that is intended
to permit inmates to resolve concerns and complaints relating
to their conditions of confinement prior to filing suit in
court. Dkt. -1 at 11-35. According to IDOC policy, an
inmate is provided with information about the Offender
Grievance Process during admission and orientation upon
arrival at an IDOC facility. Id. at 19-20.
Offender Grievance Process consists of three steps. In order
to exhaust administrative remedies, an offender must pursue a
grievance through the final available step.
Offender Grievance Process begins with the offender
contacting staff to discuss the matter or incident subject to
the grievance and seeking informal resolution. At this stage
in the process, the offender may request an informal
grievance form within five business days of the incident
giving rise to the grievance. Id. at 24. The
offender must then submit the informal grievance form within
five business days after receiving it. Id.
second step in the Offender Grievance Process involves
submission of a formal grievance to the facility's
offender grievance specialist. A formal grievance must be
submitted within five business days after receiving a
response to the informal grievance, within ten business days
“after the offender first seeks an informal resolution,
” and within twenty business days from the
date of the incident. Id. at 25-26.
formal grievance must comply with several criteria.
Id. at 27-28. If it does not, the grievance
specialist has discretion to adjudicate it but may instead
reject it and return it to the offender with an explanation
of the deficiency and how it may be corrected. Id.
at 28-29. Within five business days after receiving a
rejected formal grievance, the offender may then revise the
grievance and return it to the grievance specialist.
Id. at 29. If a formal grievance is initially
submitted on time but it is rejected as noncompliant, the
offender may revise and resubmit the grievance within five
business days even if doing so results in the revised
grievance being submitted after the original deadline to file
a formal grievance. Id. at 26 (“The time limit
is extended if a form submitted within that timeframe is
returned to the offender after screening”).
third and final step of the Offender Grievance Process is an
appeal. However, an inmate may not appeal from a formal
grievance that has been rejected as noncompliant.
See Dkt. -1 at 30-32 (indicating that the
Offender Grievance Specialist must respond to a formal
grievance or, at least initiate an investigation after
accepting a formal grievance, before the inmate may appeal);
see also Dkt.  at 3 (stating that Lewicki
“could not appeal these rejected grievances”).