United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants Correctional Officer
Locke and Correction Officer Spikers (collectively “the
Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 30).
Plaintiff Veltor Cotton (“Mr. Cotton”) filed this
action on December 12, 2018, alleging his civil rights were
violated while he was incarcerated in the Indiana Department
of Correction (“IDOC”). Mr. Cotton claims that
the defendants used excessive force on September 3, 2018,
when they pulled him from the stairs and caused him to hit
his head. The defendants moved for summary judgment arguing
that Mr. Cotton 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.
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). On summary judgment, a party must show
the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of
fact to accept its version of the events. Gekas v.
Vasilades, 814 F.3d 890, 896 (7th Cir. 2016). The moving
party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable
fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party.
Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009).
The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. Skiba v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co.,
884 F.3d 708, 717 (7th Cir. 2018).
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).
times relevant to his complaint, Mr. Cotton was confined by
the IDOC at Pendleton Correctional Facility. The IDOC has a
grievance process which is intended to permit inmates to
resolve concerns and complaints relating to their conditions
of confinement prior to filing suit in court. As an IDOC
inmate, Mr. Cotton had access to the grievance process. All
inmates are made aware of the grievance process during
orientation and a copy of the grievance process is available
in various locations within the prisons. Dkt. 30-1.
grievance process consists of three steps. First, if informal
attempts to resolve an inmate's concern fail, he files a
formal grievance. Second, if the inmate is not satisfied with
the response to the formal grievance, he may submit an appeal
to the warden. Finally, if the inmate is not satisfied with
the response from the warden or the warden's designee, he
may file an appeal to the department grievance manager.
Exhaustion of the grievance procedure requires pursuing a
grievance to the final step. A grievance must be filed within
ten (10) business days from the date of the alleged incident.
IDOC's grievance records for Mr. Cotton reflect that he
did not file any grievances related to the September 3, 2018,
defendants argue that Mr. Cotton failed to exhaust his
available administrative remedies as required by the PLRA
with respect to his claims against them.
PLRA requires that a prisoner exhaust his available
administrative remedies before bringing a suit concerning
prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002). “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 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)).
compliance is required with respect to exhaustion, and a
prisoner must properly follow the prescribed administrative
procedures in order to exhaust his remedies. Dole v.
Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006). The
PLRA's exhaustion requirement is not subject to either
waiver by a court or futility or inadequacy exceptions.
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, n.6 (2001);
McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S. 140, 112 S.Ct. 1081
(1992) (“Where Congress specifically mandates,
exhaustion is required.”).
inmate . . . must exhaust available remedies, but need not
exhaust unavailable ones.” Ross v. Blake, 136
S.Ct. 1850, 1858 (2016). For example, an administrative
procedure is unavailable when “it operates as a simple
dead end, ” when it “might be so opaque that it
becomes, practically speaking, incapable of use” or
when “prison administrators thwart inmates from taking