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Simpson v. Cox D.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

May 8, 2018

DAVID L. SIMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
COX D. Correctional Officer, Defendant.

          ENTRY GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          William T. Lawrence, Judge

         Plaintiff 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.

         The 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 granted.

         I. 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).

         Once 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).

         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).

         “The 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 omitted).

         “Proper 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).

         It is 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).

         II. Undisputed Facts

         The 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.

         Mr. 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. No. 2.

         A. Bureau of Prisons' ...


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