United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ARTHUR L. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM E. WILSON, et al. Defendants.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Patrick Hanlon, United States District Judge.
Harris, a federal inmate formerly incarcerated at the United
States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana (USP-TH), brings
this civil action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named
Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).
Mr. Harris alleges that the defendants violated his Eighth
Amendment rights by not providing constitutionally adequate
medical treatment for his Hepatitis C and pain while he was
incarcerated at USP-TH.
pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment
filed by the defendants on January 4, 2019. Dkt. 23. The
defendants argue that the claims are barred under the
exhaustion provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1977e, that requires a prisoner to
first exhaust his available administrative remedies before
filing a lawsuit. Mr. Harris responds that the administrative
remedy process was not available to him. The defendants
replied to Mr. Harris’s assertions. This motion is now
fully briefed. For the reasons explained below, the motion
for summary judgment, dkt. , is denied.
Standard of Review
judgment shall 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). 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 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.”
Porter, 534 U.S. 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 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. Harris. 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).
following facts, construed in the manner most favorable to
Mr. Harris as the non-movant, are undisputed for purposes of
the motion for summary judgment.
Federal Administrative Remedy Procedure
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) maintains an administrative
remedy procedure through which an inmate may seek review of a
complaint relating to any aspect of his confinement. Upon
arrival at any BOP facility, all federal inmates attend an
Admission and Orientation presentation where they are
educated on the administrative remedy process, including how
to properly file each submission. Inmates learn where to find
BOP Policy and facility-specific supplements, and they are
taught how to access the electronic law library. Inmates also
receive a copy of the Admission and Orientation Handbook,
which contains detailed information regarding the
administrative remedy procedure. Records related to the
administrative remedy process are maintained electronically
in the SENTRY computer database. Each entry in the SENTRY
database contains a short summary-written by BOP staff-of the
issue raised by the inmate.
federal administrative remedy procedure requires inmates to
first attempt to resolve a complaint informally through a
submission commonly referred to as a “BP-8.”
Because this is an informal attempt at dispute resolution, it
is not recorded in the SENTRY database. If the informal
resolution is not successful, an inmate may file a formal
complaint with the Warden within twenty days of the date on
which the alleged underlying incident occurred by filing a
“BP-9.” The SENTRY database identifies BP-9
submissions with the notation “F1” followed by
the remedy identification number. The Warden has twenty days
to respond to a BP-9 submission. If the Warden does not
timely respond to the BP-9 submission, the inmate may deem
the lack of a response to be a denial and proceed to the next
level of the administrative remedy process.
inmate is not satisfied with the Warden’s response to
his BP-9 submission, he may appeal to the Regional Office
through a submission referred to as a “BP-10.”
The SENTRY database records BP-10 submissions with an
“R1” notation followed by the remedy
identification number. The Regional Office has thirty days to
respond to a BP-10 submission. If the inmate does not receive
a timely response from ...