Williams v. Siddiq et al (INMATE2)

Filing 61

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION re 1 Inmate 1983 Complaint filed by Ronnie V. Williams that: 1. Defendants' 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment be GRANTED to the extent Defendants seek dismissal of this case due to Plaintiff's failure to properly exhaust administrative remedies previously available to him at the Bullock County Correctional Facility; and 2. This case be DISMISSED with prejudice in accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a) for Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies available to him during his confinement at the Bullock County Correctional Facility. Objections to R&R due by 8/13/2009. Signed by Honorable Terry F. Moorer on 7/30/2009. (dmn)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION ____________________________ R O N N IE V. WILLIAMS, #239 426 P l a in tif f , v. D R . SIDDIQ, et al., D e f e n d a n ts . _____________________________ * * * * * 2:07-CV-332-ID (WO) R E C O M M E N D A T I O N OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE In this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, Plaintiff Ronnie Williams, a state inmate, challenges th e medical treatment provided to him during his incarceration at the Bullock Correctional F a c ility ["Bullock"]. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants gave him psychotropic m e d ic a tio n intended for another inmate and continued to do so despite his repeated notices o f the error. Plaintiff names as defendants Dr. Tahir Siddiq, Prison Health Services, Inc., and N u rs e s Nalls, Mosley, and Robinson. Plaintiff seeks damages and two physicians selected b y his family to be "appointed" to him. D e f e n d a n ts filed an answer, special report and supporting evidentiary materials a d d re s s in g Plaintiff's claims for relief. In these documents, Defendants assert that Plaintiff failed to exhaust an administrative remedy available to him during his confinement at the Bullock County Correctional Facility. The court provided Plaintiff an opportunity to file a re s p o n s e to the arguments presented by Defendants. Pursuant to the orders entered in this case and governing case law, the court deems it appropriate to treat Defendants' report as a motion for summary judgment. (See Doc. No. 1 9 ); Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1375 (11th Cir. 2008) (Although an exhaustion defense "is not ordinarily the proper subject for a summary judgment [motion,]" the defense is a p p ro p ria te for summary judgment when the evidence demonstrates administrative remedies " are absolutely time barred or otherwise clearly infeasible."). Thus, this case is now pending o n Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Upon consideration of this motion, the ev iden tiary materials filed in support thereof and Plaintiff's response to the motion, the court c o n c lu d e s that Defendants' motion for summary judgment is due to be granted. I . STANDARD OF REVIEW "S u m m a ry judgment is appropriate 'if the pleadings, depositions, answers to in te rro g a to rie s, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no g e n u i n e issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a m a tte r of law.'" Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11 th Cir. 2 0 0 7 ) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(c) (Summary judgment "should b e rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits sh o w that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to 2 ju d g m e n t as a matter of law.").1 The party moving for summary judgment "always bears the in itia l responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying th o s e portions of the [record, including pleadings, discovery materials and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. C a tre tt, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence w h ic h would be admissible at trial indicating there is no dispute of material fact or by s h o w in g that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in support of some element o f its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-324. Defendants have met their evidentiary burden and demonstrated the absence of a g e n u i n e issue of material fact with respect to Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative re m e d ie s. Thus, the burden shifts to Plaintiff to establish, with appropriate evidence beyond th e pleadings, that a genuine issue material to his case exists. Clark v. Coats and Clark, Inc., 9 2 9 F.2d 604, 608 (11 th Cir. 1991); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2) ("When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, an opposing party may not re ly merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must ... set out sp e c if ic facts showing a genuine issue for trial."). A genuine issue of material fact exists 1 Effective December 1, 2007, "[t]he language of Rule 56 [was] amended ... to make the rule[] more ea sily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes ... are stylistic only." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 Advisory Committee Notes. Thus, although Rule 56 underwent stylistic ch an g es, its substance remains the same and, therefore, all cases citing the prior rule remain equally applicable to the current rule. 3 w h e n the nonmoving party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to re tu rn a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263. To survive Defendants' properly supported motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff is required to produce "sufficient [favorable] evidence" establishing proper exhaustion of a d m in is tra tiv e remedies. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). "If the e v id e n c e [on which the nonmoving party relies] is merely colorable ... or is not significantly p r o b a t i v e ... summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-250. "A mere 'scintilla' of e v id e n c e supporting the opposing party's position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] could reasonably find for that party. Anderson v. Liberty L o b b y , 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)." Walker v. Darby, 911 F .2 d 1573, 1576-1577 (11 th Cir. 1990). Conclusory allegations based on subjective beliefs a re likewise insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact and, therefore, do not s u f f ic e to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental A ss o c ia t e s , Inc., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11 th Cir. 2001); Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1 5 6 4 n.6 (11 th Cir. 1997) (plaintiff's "conclusory assertions ..., in the absence of [admissible] su p p o rtin g evidence, are insufficient to withstand summary judgment."); Harris v. Ostrout, 6 5 F.3d 912, 916 (11 th Cir. 1995) (grant of summary judgment appropriate where inmate p ro d u c e s nothing beyond "his own conclusory allegations...."); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F .2 d 553, 557 (11 th Cir. 1984) ("mere verification of party's own conclusory allegations is not 4 su f f icie n t to oppose summary judgment...."). Hence, when a plaintiff fails to set forth s p e c if ic facts supported by appropriate evidence sufficient to establish the existence of an e lem e n t essential to his case and on which the plaintiff will bear the burden of proof at trial, s u m m a ry judgment is due to be granted in favor of the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 3 2 2 ("[F]ailure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case n e c e ss a rily renders all other facts immaterial."); Barnes v. Southwest Forest Industries, Inc., 8 1 4 F.2d 607, 609 (11 th Cir. 1987) (if on any part of the prima facie case the plaintiff presents in s u f f ic ie n t evidence to require submission of the case to the trier of fact, granting of su m m ary judgment is appropriate). F o r summary judgment purposes, only disputes involving material facts are relevant. U n ited States v. One Piece of Real Property Located at 5800 SW 74 th Avenue, Miami, F lo r id a , 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11 th Cir. 2004). What is material is determined by the s u b s ta n tiv e law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Lofton v. Secretary of the D e p a rtm e n t of Children and Family Services, 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11 th Cir. 2004) ("Only f a ctu a l disputes that are material under the substantive law governing the case will preclude e n try of summary judgment."). "The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat s u m m a ry judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome o f the case." McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11 th Cir. 2003) (citatio n omitted). To demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact, the party opposing 5 s u m m a ry judgment "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt a s to the material facts.... Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier o f fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. I n d u s . Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In cases where the evidence b ef o re the court which is admissible on its face or which can be reduced to admissible form in d ic a te s that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the party moving for s u m m a ry judgment is entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is proper. Celotex, 4 7 7 U.S. at 323-324 (summary judgment appropriate where pleadings, evidentiary materials an d affidavits before the court show there is no genuine issue as to a requisite material fact); W a d d e ll, 276 F.3d at 1279 (to establish a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party m u st produce evidence such that a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict in his favor). A lth o u g h factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the n o n m o v in g party and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a p r o se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine is s u e of material fact. Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, ___, 126 S.Ct. 2572, 2576, 165 L.Ed.2d 6 9 7 (2006); Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11 th Cir. 1990). Thus, Plaintiff's pro se s ta tu s alone does not mandate this court's disregard of elementary principles of production a n d proof in a civil case. In this case, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate a requisite genuine issue o f material fact in order to preclude summary judgment. Matsushita, supra. 6 I I . DISCUSSION P la in tif f challenges the constitutionality of medical treatment provided to him during h is incarceration at the Bullock County Correctional Facility. In response to the complaint, D e f en d a n ts maintain this case is subject to dismissal because Plaintiff failed to exhaust the a d m in is tra tiv e remedy provided at the Bullock County Correctional Facility prior to filing th is complaint as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a). The Prison Litigation Reform Act compels exhaustion of available administrative re m e d ies before a prisoner can seek relief in federal court on a 1983 complaint. S p e c if ica lly, 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a) states that "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to p ris o n conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner c o n f in e d in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies a s are available are exhausted." "Congress has provided in 1997(e)(a) that an inmate must e x h a u st irrespective of the forms of relief sought and offered through administrative r e m e d i e s." Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 n.6 (2001). "[T]he PLRA's exhaustion re q u ire m e n t applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general c irc u m s ta n c es or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other w rong." Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). Exhaustion of all available a d m in is tra tiv e remedies is a precondition to litigation and a federal court cannot waive the e x h a u s tio n requirement. Booth, 532 U.S. at 741; Alexander v. Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321, 1325 7 (1 1 th Cir. 1998); Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 126 S.Ct. 2378 (2006). Moreover, "the P L R A exhaustion requirement requires proper exhaustion." Woodford, 548 U.S. at 93, 126 S .C t. at 2387 (emphasis added). "Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's d e a d lin e s and other critical procedural rules [as a precondition to filing suit in federal court] b e c a u se no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly s tru c tu re on the courts of its proceedings.... Construing 1997e(a) to require proper e x h a u stio n ... fits with the general scheme of the PLRA, whereas [a contrary] interpretation [ a llo w in g an inmate to bring suit in federal court once administrative remedies are no longer a v a ila b le ] would turn that provision into a largely useless appendage." 548 U.S. at 90-91, 9 3 , 126 S.Ct. at 2386-2387. The Court reasoned that because proper exhaustion of ad m inistrat iv e remedies is necessary an inmate cannot "satisfy the Prison Litigation Reform A c t's exhaustion requirement ... by filing an untimely or otherwise procedurally defective a d m in i str a tiv e grievance or appeal[,]" or by effectively bypassing the administrative process s im p ly by waiting until the grievance procedure is no longer available to him. 548 U.S. at 8 3 -8 4 , 126 S.Ct. at 2382; Johnson v. Meadows, 418 F.3d 1152, 1157 (11th Cir. 2005) (inmate w h o files an untimely grievance or simply spurns the administrative process until it is no lo n g e r available fails to satisfy the exhaustion requirement of the PLRA). The record in this case establishes that the health care provider for the Alabama D e p a rtm e n t of Corrections provides a grievance procedure for inmate complaints related to 8 m e d ic a l treatment. (Doc. No. 17 at pgs. 9-11, Exhs. D, E.) The evidentiary materials s u b m itte d by Defendants demonstrate that Plaintiff failed to file any grievance with respect to the actions about which he complains in the instant complaint. Plaintiff does not dispute h is failure to exhaust the administrative remedy available in the prison system prior to filing this case. The court, therefore, concludes that the claims presented in this cause of action are su b jec t to dismissal as Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust an administrative remedy available to him which is a precondition to proceeding in this court on his claims. Ngo, 548 U.S. at 8 7 -9 4 , 126 S.Ct. at 2384-2388. P la in t if f is no longer incarcerated at the Bullock County Correctional Facility. Thus, t h e administrative remedy provided by Defendants at that facility is no longer available to P la in tif f . Under such circumstances, dismissal with prejudice is appropriate. Bryant, 530 F .3 d at 1375 n.1; Johnson, 418 F.3d at 1157; Marsh v. Jones, 53 F.3d 707, 710 (5th Cir. 1 9 9 5 ) ("Without the prospect of a dismissal with prejudice, a prisoner could evade the e x h a u stio n requirement by filing no administrative grievance or by intentionally filing an u n tim e ly one, thereby foreclosing administrative remedies and gaining access to a federal f o ru m without exhausting administrative remedies."); Berry v. Keirk, 366 F.3d 85, 88 (2nd C ir . 2004) (footnotes omitted) (Inmate's "federal lawsuits . . . properly dismissed with p re ju d ic e " where previously available administrative remedies had become unavailable and n o special circumstances justified the failure to exhaust.). 9 III. CONCLUSION A c c o rd in g ly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that: 1 . Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 17) be GRANTED to the e x t e n t Defendants seek dismissal of this case due to Plaintiff's failure to properly exhaust a d m in is tra tiv e remedies previously available to him at the Bullock County Correctional F a c ility; and 2 . This case be DISMISSED with prejudice in accordance with the provisions of 42 U .S .C . 1997e(a) for Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies available to him d u rin g his confinement at the Bullock County Correctional Facility. It is further ORDERED that on or before August 13, 2009 the parties may file objections to the R e c o m m e n d a tio n . Any objections filed must specifically identify the findings in the M a g is tra te Judge's Recommendation to which a party objects. Frivolous, conclusive or g e n e ra l objections will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are advised that th is Recommendation is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not appealable. F a ilu re to file written objections to the proposed findings and advisements in the M a g is tra te Judge's Recommendation shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the D is tric t Court of issues covered in the Recommendation and shall bar the party from a tta c k in g on appeal factual findings in the Recommendation accepted or adopted by the 10 D is tric t Court except upon the grounds of plain error or manifest injustice. Nettles v. W a in w r ig h t, 677 F.2d 404 (5th Cir. 1982). See Stein v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 3 3 (11th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206 (11th Cir. 1981) (en b a n c ), adopting as binding precedent all of the decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed d o w n prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981. D o n e , this 30th day of July 2009. /s /T e r r y F. Moorer TERRY F. MOORER U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 11

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