United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE.
Austin Eckes, an inmate at the Wabash Valley Correctional
Facility (WVCF), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Mr. Eckes alleges that defendant Dr. Samuel Byrd
violated his Eighth Amendment rights when Dr. Byrd prescribed
an excessive amount of medications and pain relievers for his
fractured fingers that caused gastric ulcers and resulted in
Mr. Eckes' hospitalization at Terre Haute Regional
Hospital for several days.
defendant moves for summary judgment on Mr. Eckes' claims
arguing that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies
as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) before
filing this lawsuit. For the following reasons, the motion
for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 57, is
Standard of Review
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 defendants' burden to establish that the
administrative process was available to Mr. Eckes. 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).
circuit has taken a strict approach to exhaustion.”
Wilborn v. Ealey, 881 F.3d 998, 1004 (7th Cir.
2018). “An inmate must comply with the administrative
grievance process that the State establishes, at least as
long as it is actually available to the inmate.”
Statement of Facts
following statement of facts was evaluated pursuant to the
standard set forth above. That is, this statement of facts is
not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment
standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed
evidence are presented in the light reasonably most favorable
to Mr. Eckes as the non-moving party with respect to the
motion for summary judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).