United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
DAVID L. SIMPSON, Plaintiff,
COX D. Correctional Officer, Defendant.
ENTRY GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Judge
David L. Simpson, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary
in Marion, Illinois, filed this civil action based on events
and circumstances which occurred while Mr. Simpson was
incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre
Haute, Indiana. He alleges that Officer Cox forced him to
remain in a flooded cell, verbally assaulted Mr. Simpson, and
told other inmates and staff (falsely) that Mr. Simpson was a
sex offender and child molester so that Mr. Simpson would be
taunted and tormented by other offenders. He further alleges
that after he reported Officer Cox's misconduct on
November 16, 2016, Officer Cox entered Simpson's cell and
attempted to throw Mr. Simpson on the ground. In the process,
Officer Cox slipped and fell, hitting his head on the
bunkbed. After falling, Officer Cox yelled “stop
resisting” and another guard radioed for back up.
During this time, Mr. Simpson was not resisting. Officer Cox
claimed resistance in an effort to justify his unreasonable
use of force. Other unknown officers then entered the cell
and joined in hitting, kicking, and punching Mr. Simpson.
defendant seeks summary judgment arguing that Mr. Simpson
failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as
required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), before
filing this lawsuit. For the reasons explained below, the
motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 34, is
Standard of Review
Summary 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). The party seeking summary
judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying” designated evidence which
“demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
the moving party has met its burden, the non-movant may not
rest upon mere allegations. Instead, “[t]o successfully
oppose a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party
must come forward with specific facts demonstrating that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Trask-Morton
v. Motel 6 Operating L.P., 534 F.3d 672, 677 (7th Cir.
2008). “The non-movant will successfully oppose summary
judgment only when it presents definite, competent evidence
to rebut the motion.” Vukadinovich v. Bd. of Sch.
Trs., 278 F.3d 693, 699 (7th Cir. 2002) (internal
quotation and citation omitted).
“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 “[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.” Porter,
534 U.S. at 532 (citation omitted). The requirement to
exhaust provides “that no one is entitled to judicial
relief for a supposed or threatened injury until the
prescribed administrative remedy has been exhausted.”
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88-89 (2006) (citation
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.”
Id. at 90-91; 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 defendant's burden to establish that the
administrative process was available to Mr. Buchanan. 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
Mr. Simpson as the non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of
the motion for summary judgment.
Simpson was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution
in Terre Haute, Indiana (“FCI Terre Haute”) from
September 22, 2016, through November 28, 2016. On November
28, 2016, he was transferred to the United States
Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, and is still currently
housed there. Mr. Simpson asserts that he used the
“Administrative Remedy process available to federal
prison inmates” to exhaust these claims and identifies
“Remedy ID: 887001” as the remedy case number
purportedly encompassing his allegations in this action. Dkt.
Bureau of Prisons' ...