William Pumphrey v. Joe Coakley
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Motion disposition in opinion--denying Motion seeking ruling [1000005657-2], denying Motion to submit for decision [999971217-2] Originating case number: 5:15-cv-14430. Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. . Mailed to: W. Pumphrey. [16-2052]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
WILLIAM C. PUMPHREY,
Plaintiff - Appellant,
JOE COAKLEY; O. GIBSON; J. D. JAMES; J. BAILEY; B. COLEMAN; T.
TONEY; D. DUNCAN; C. SPENCER; A. LESTER; F. RIFFLE; S. DENNY; J.
GROGAN; D. AKERS; U. M. SNOW; DR. WEAVER; J. FORD; J. WILLIAMS;
E. HARVEY; HEAD; U. M. SMITH; KNOLL, and four (4) unnamed Federal Bureau
of Prisoners staff members, et. al.,
Defendants – Appellees,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, at
Beckley. Irene C. Berger, District Judge. (5:15-cv-14430)
Submitted: March 31, 2017
Before KING, AGEE, and WYNN, Circuit Judges.
Vacated and remanded by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Decided: April 11, 2017
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William C. Pumphrey, Appellant Pro Se. Christopher Crews, OFFICE OF THE UNITED
STATES ATTORNEY, Beaver, West Virginia; Stephen Michael Horn, Assistant United
States Attorney, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellees.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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William Pumphrey, a federal prisoner, appeals the district court’s order accepting
the recommendation of the magistrate judge and granting summary judgment to
Defendants on his claims under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau
of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The district court determined that Pumphrey had not
exhausted his available administrative remedies, as the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (2012), requires. Pumphrey argues that, to the extent that he failed to
exhaust administrative remedies, those remedies were unavailable to him because prison
staff delayed and destroyed his legal and interdepartmental mail, including administrative
grievances and appeals, and refused to provide him the forms necessary to file the required
grievances and appeals. We vacate the court’s order and remand for further proceedings.
We “review de novo the district court’s order granting summary judgment.”
Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 565 n.1 (4th Cir. 2015); see
Custis v. Davis,
, No. 15-7533, 2017 WL 1097130, at *2 (4th Cir. Mar. 23,
2017) (applying de novo review to “dismissal for failure to exhaust available administrative
remedies”). “A district court ‘shall grant summary judgment 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.’” Jacobs, 780 F.3d at 568 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a)). “A dispute is
genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists,
“we view the facts and all justifiable inferences arising therefrom in the light most
favorable to . . . the nonmoving party.” Id. at 565 n.1 (internal quotation marks omitted).
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“Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate
inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
Moreover, summary judgment is not appropriate “where the nonmoving party has not had
the opportunity to discover information that is essential to his opposition.” Id. at 250 n.5.
In this case, Pumphrey and the prison staff members he accused of obstructing his
ability to exhaust his administrative remedies filed competing affidavits regarding whether
prison staff delayed or destroyed Pumphrey’s mail and refused to provide Pumphrey the
materials necessary to exhaust his administrative remedies. The district court found
Pumphrey to be less credible than the prison staff and granted summary judgment in favor
We conclude that the district court improperly made a credibility
determination at the summary judgment stage, and without permitting discovery. See
Gray v. Spillman, 925 F.2d 90, 95 (4th Cir. 1991) (“It is not our job to weight the evidence,
to count how many affidavits favor the plaintiff and how many oppose him, or to disregard
stories that seem hard to believe.”).
For the foregoing reasons, we vacate the district court’s judgment and remand this
matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We deny as moot Pumphrey’s
motion to submit for decision and motion seeking ruling. We dispense with oral argument
because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this
court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
VACATED AND REMANDED
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