United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING DEFENDANTS TO RESPOND
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
Kristopher Lambright, an Indiana prisoner currently
incarcerated at the Westville Correctional facility, alleges
the defendants violated his rights under the First Amendment
by denying him a kosher diet while he was incarcerated at the
Reception Diagnostic Center (RDC) in Plainfield, Indiana.
defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on June 26,
2019. Dkt. 55. Lambright filed a corrected response opposing
the motion, and the defendants filed a reply. Dkt. 69, dkt.
74. Lambright moved for leave to file a belated surreply,
dkt. , which is now granted. The
defendants' motion for summary judgment is fully briefed.
defendants argue that Lambright's claims are barred under
the exhaustion provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), which requires a prisoner
to first exhaust his available administrative remedies before
filing a lawsuit in federal court. Lambright argues in
response that prison staff thwarted his efforts to fully
exhaust by failing to provide him with a copy or adequate
explanation of the grievance process and for failing to
review his formal grievance within the timeframe required by
the grievance process. For the reasons explained below, the
defendants' motion for summary judgment, dkt. , is
denied and further proceedings will be
Undisputed Material Facts
operated by the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC).
Incoming prisoners are temporarily housed at RDC and then
transferred to other IDOC facilities for long-term placement.
offender grievance process at RDC has three steps. Dkt. 55-2,
pp. 8-13. First, the prisoner must file a formal grievance
within ten business days of the incident after informal
attempts to resolve the grievance have failed. Id.
at 9-11. Second, the prisoner must file a grievance appeal
within five business days of receiving the grievance
response. Id. at 11-12. Third, the prisoner must
file a final appeal within five business days of receiving
the appeal response. Id. at 12-13. Deadlines may be
extended for extenuating circumstances. Id.
grievances must be submitted to the RDC grievance specialist.
Id. at 9. The formal grievance must comply with the
standards set forth in the grievance process or it will be
rejected. Id. at 9-10. The grievance specialist must
decide whether to accept or reject the formal grievance
within five business days of receiving it. Id. at
10. If the grievance specialist rejects the formal grievance,
it is returned to the prisoner by the next business day with
an explanation for the rejection. Id. The prisoner
then has five business days to resubmit a corrected formal
grievance. Id. A formal grievance that relates to
more than one incident will be rejected. Id.
prisoner does not receive a notice that the formal grievance
was either accepted or rejected within five business days, he
must notify the grievance specialist. Id. The
grievance specialist will then investigate the issue and
respond to the prisoner within five business days.
prisoner initiates a grievance at RDC and is transferred to
another facility before the grievance is resolved, he may
continue to exhaust his administrative remedies through RDC.
Dkt. 55-2, p. 14.
was incarcerated at RDC from April 11, 2018, until he was
transferred to another facility on May 9, 2018. Dkt. 18, p.
1; dkt. 38, p. 1. He was not given a copy of the 15-page
grievance process upon his arrival at RDC. Dkt. 69, p. 4.
Instead, he was given a prisoner handbook that contained
documentation about the grievance process. Dkt. 55-1, p. 2.
documentation Lambright received in his handbook is
incomplete. Dkt. 61-1. The first page ends in the middle of a
numbered list describing the steps of the grievance process.
Id. The second page begins in the middle of a
different numbered list describing the duties of the
grievance specialist after the prisoner has filed a formal
grievance. Id. The incomplete documentation
Lambright received failed to inform him about many aspects of
the grievance process. Most importantly for purposes of this
motion, the documentation did not mention that prisoners may
continue to pursue a grievance against RDC if they are
transferred to another facility before the grievance is
wrote the food service supervisor on April 12, 2018, to
request a kosher diet. Dkt. 2, p. 9. He wrote the chaplain
about his request for a kosher diet on April 13, 2018.
Id.; dkt. 2-1, p. 3. He made additional informal
requests for a kosher ...