United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING
MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL AND MOTION FOR SANCTIONS,
RELINQUISHING SUPPLEMENTAL JURISDICTION OVER STATE LAW
CLAIMS, AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
James Hamilton is a prisoner currently incarcerated at New
Castle Correctional Facility. Defendants Stanley Knight,
Clinton Feldkamp, Ty Robbins, and Morgan Feeney were staff
members at Plainfield Correctional Facility (PCF) when Mr.
Hamilton was previously incarcerated there. In this lawsuit,
Mr. Hamilton alleges that the defendants failed to protect
him from a known threat of violence at PCF in 2017 in a
manner that violated his Eighth Amendment rights and amounted
to negligence under Indiana law.
defendants have moved for summary judgment on the Eighth
Amendment claims, arguing that Mr. Hamilton 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. Believing the Eighth
Amendment claims to be barred by the PLRA, the defendants ask
the Court to relinquish its supplemental jurisdiction over
the negligence claims.
reasons set forth below, the Court grants
the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The Court
also denies Mr. Hamilton's pending
motion to appoint counsel and motion for sanctions,
relinquishes its supplemental jurisdiction over Mr.
Hamilton's state-law claims, and directs the clerk to
enter final judgment in the defendants' favor.
Motion for Summary Judgment
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 judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Material facts are those that
might affect the outcome of the suit under applicable
substantive law.” Dawson v. Brown, 803 F.3d
829, 833 (7th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation omitted).
“A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists
‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'”
Daugherty v. Page, 906 F.3d 606, 609-10 (7th Cir.
2018) (quoting 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. See
Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc., 906 F.3d 621, 628
(7th Cir. 2018).
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
substantive law applicable to the 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.” Id. 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 Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804,
809 (7th Cir. 2006) (“‘To exhaust remedies, a
prisoner must file 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)). “State law
establishes the administrative remedies that a state prisoner
must exhaust for purposes of the PLRA.” Lanaghan v.
Koch, 902 F.3d 683, 687 (7th Cir. 2018). It is
well-settled that “there is no ‘futility'
exception to a prisoner's duty to exhaust, ” even
when the administrative remedies offered by the prison do not
include damages. Fletcher v. Menard Corr. Ctr., 623
F.3d 1171, 1173-74 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Booth v.
Churner, 532 U.S. 731 (2001)).
The Grievance Process
Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Offender Grievance
Process (OGP) provides inmates an avenue for resolving
complaints regarding the conditions of their confinement.
There is no dispute that the OGP was available to Mr.
Hamilton at all times relevant to this action. The version of
the OGP in effect at that time appears in the record at dkt.
44-1, pp. 8-32.
consists of the following three steps:
(i) An informal attempt to solve a problem or address a
concern, which can be followed by;
(ii) Submission of a written form outlining the problem or
concern and other supporting information, and the response to
that submission, which can be followed by;
(iii) A written appeal of the response to a higher authority
and the response to that appeal. The Department does not
require an offender who is satisfied with the result at any