United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court
Derek Beaty, an Indiana prisoner incarcerated at the New
Castle Correctional Facility, brings this civil rights action
alleging that the defendants denied him access to mental
health programming despite policies allowing ‘red
tag' inmates, like Mr. Beaty, to participate in such
programming in restraints.
pending before the Court is the defendants' motion for
summary judgment which argues that the plaintiff's claims
are barred under the exhaustion provision of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §
1997e, that requires a prisoner to first exhaust his
available administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit in
court. Mr. Beaty has not responded to the motion and the time
to do so has passed, leaving the defendants' motion
unopposed. For the reasons that follow, the defendants'
motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 42, 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). 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 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).
noted above, Mr. Beaty failed to respond to the
defendants' motion for summary judgment, and the deadline
for doing so has passed. The consequence is that Mr. Beaty
has conceded the defendants' version of the events.
See Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003)
(“[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by
the local rules results in an admission.”);
see S.D. Ind. Local Rule 56-1 (“A party
opposing a summary judgment motion must . . . file and serve
a response brief and any evidence . . . that the party relies
on to oppose the motion. The response must . . . identif[y]
the potentially determinative facts and factual disputes that
the party contends demonstrate a dispute of fact precluding
summary judgment.”). This does not alter the standard
for assessing a Rule 56 motion, but it does “reduc[e]
the pool” from which the facts and inferences relative
to such a motion may be drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129
F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).
the following facts, unopposed by Mr. Beaty and supported by
admissible evidence, are accepted as true.
times relevant to his claims, Mr. Beaty was incarcerated at
Wabash Correctional Facility (“Wabash”). Wabash
maintained a grievance policy regarding complaints about
prison conditions. The grievance process requires an inmate
to attempt to resolve the grievance informally through
officials at the facility by contacting staff to discuss the
matter or incident subject to the grievance and seeking
informal resolution. If the inmate is unable to obtain a
resolution of the grievance informally, he may submit a
formal written complaint to the Grievance Specialist of the
facility where the incident occurred. If the formal written
complaint is not resolved in a manner that satisfies the
inmate, he may submit an appeal within ten working days from
the date of receipt of the formal grievance response. If the
inmate receives no grievance response within twenty working
days of the day he submitted the grievance, he may appeal as
though the grievance had been denied.
Wellington is the grievance specialist at Wabash Valley and
is the custodian of the facility's grievance records
including, but not limited to, the initial grievance
documents filed by inmates as well as responses and appeals.
Furthermore, Mr. Wellington also maintains a folder for each
offender containing any informal grievances submitted, as
well as formal grievances submitted that were rejected and
returned to the offender for violations of the grievance
policy. The prison grievance records contain no grievances
filed by Mr. Beaty. Dkt. No. 43-2.
Beaty's complaint asserts that, while incarcerated at
Wabash Valley, the defendants excluded him from mental health
programming due to a conduct report. He further asserts that
although he was given the ‘red tag' designation, he
should have been allowed to participate in mental health
programming in restraints, pursuant to prison policy.
Although Mr. Beaty did not respond to the motion for summary
judgment, he briefly addressed his attempts to exhaust his
administrative remedies in his sworn complaint. He states
that he sent an informal grievance “to the
facility.” He also asserts that he filled out a formal
grievance and never received a response from the facility
head, but he does not state to whom he sent the formal
grievance. Finally, he states that after he was transferred
from Wabash Valley, he contacted the Central Office. Dkt. No.
PLRA 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.” Id. 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).
Exhaustion of available administrative remedies
“‘means using all steps that the agency holds
out, and doing so properly (so that the agency addresses the
issues on the merits).'” Id. at 90
(quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1024
(7th Cir. 2002)). Proper use of the facility's grievance
system requires a prisoner “to file complaints and
appeals in the place, and at the time [as] the prison's
administrative rules require.” Pozo, 286 F.3d
at 1025; see also Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804,
809 (7th Cir. 2006).
exhaustion is an affirmative defense, “the burden of
proof is on the prison officials.” Kaba v.
Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 680 (7th Cir. 2006). The burden is
also on the defendants to establish that the administrative
process was available to Mr. Beaty. 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