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Jones v. United States

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

June 12, 2019

MARK JACOB JONES, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ELIZABETH TRUEBLOOD, Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON EXHAUSTION AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          HON. WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, SENIOR JUDGE

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Mark Jacob Jones, Sr. is a prisoner who at all relevant times has been confined within the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Federal Correctional Center in Terre Haute, Indiana (FCC-TH). Mr. Jones filed his complaint on September 17, 2018. Dkt. 1. His claims are brought pursuant to the theory recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and the Federal Tort Claim Act (FTCA). More specifically, the claims proceeding in this action are an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Elizabeth Trueblood and a negligence claim against the United States. Dkt. 7.

         The defendants moved for summary judgment seeking resolution of all claims on the basis that Mr. Jones failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies. Dkt. 19. Mr. Jones has not opposed the motion for summary judgment and the time for doing so has passed. The action is ripe for resolution.

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the defendants' motion for summary judgment, filed on March 27, 2019, must be granted.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Summary Judgment

         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 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).

         The defendants' motion for summary judgment, brief in support, and Rule 56 notice were served on Mr. Jones on or about March 27, 2019. The consequence of Mr. Jones' failure to respond is that he has conceded the defendants' version of the facts. 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(b) (“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(a) motion, but 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).

         B. Prison Litigation Reform Act Exhaustion

         The substantive law applicable to a portion of the motion for summary judgment is the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“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).

         “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.” 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)). Because exhaustion of administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, the burden of proof is on the defendants to demonstrate that Mr. Jones failed to exhaust all available administrative remedies before he filed this suit. 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.”).

         III. Discussion

         A. ...


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