Douglas v. Marvin
MEMORANDUM OPINION Signed by Honorable James R. Marschewski on June 12, 2013. (sh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
RYAN MICHAEL DOUGLAS
Civil No. 12-2070
CAPTAIN JEFF MARVIN, Crawford
County Detention Center
This is a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Plaintiff, Ryan M.
Douglas, proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. The case is before me on the consent of the parties
Before me for decision is the Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Docs.15-17).
Plaintiff filed a response (Doc. 24) to the motion. The motion is ready for decision.
Plaintiff is now incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction, North Central Unit.
At all times relevant to this complaint, he was incarcerated in the Crawford County Detention Center
On or about February 8, 2012, Douglas and another inmate, Jesse Darnell, were placed in
lock-down. Plaintiff’s Response (hereinafter Plff’s Resp.) at ¶ 2. On the day in question, guards
were passing out commissary. Plff’s Resp. at ¶ 2. Deputy Stevens responded to a commotion
coming from cell 4. Defendant’s Exhibit (hereinafter Deft’s Ex.) A. Stevens’ incident report states
that he saw inmate Douglas grabbing Mark Thornsberry’s commissary and “tossing it all over the
room.” Id. A search of Douglas and Inmate Darnell revealed that they were in possession of
Thornberry’s missing commissary items. Id. The incident was reported to Captain Marvin; he
informed Stevens and Deputy Ridenour to place both inmates on lock down in cell 2C for 5 days for
theft of property. Id. According to Stevens, he informed the inmates of their right to a lock down
Douglas does not deny he was involved in the commotion or that he had another inmate’s
commissary items. Instead, he merely asserts that Stevens saw him kicking another inmate’s
commissary not tossing it around. Plff’s Resp. at ¶ 6.
With respect to the lock down cell, Douglas alleges there was no light in the cell and no hot
water. Plff’s Resp. at ¶ 1. He had access to cold water but says the toilet was turned off. Id. at ¶
4(a). He asserts that he was unable to sterilize his hands without hot water. Id. As a result of these
conditions, Douglas asserts that he “got a little cold.” Id.
He was provided three meals a day. Plff’s Resp. at ¶ 4(b). He had a mattress to sleep on.
Because there was no light, he asserts that he could not write his attorney. Plff’s Resp. at ¶
3. He maintains his criminal case was adversely affected because his attorney failed to inform him
of the witnesses who would testify against him and he was unable to write his attorney to obtain this
information. Id. at ¶ 3(a).
Douglas maintains he was locked down for approximately two weeks. Plff’s Resp. at ¶ 1.
He did not file a grievance about being on lock down. Id. at ¶ 5. He states he asked for a grievance
form on two occasions but was not provided one. Id. Towards the end of his lock down, Douglas
maintains Inmate Teas wrote a grievance for him. Id. Douglas also maintains that neither he nor
Darnell were told they had a right to a lock down hearing. Plff’s Resp. at ¶¶ 9-11.
On February 17th, Douglas submitted a grievance requesting that twenty-one cents (21¢) be
placed back on his books. Plff’s Resp. at ¶ 12; Deft’s Ex. B. The grievance makes no mention of
the lock down or the conditions of the cell. Additionally, the grievance form indicates Douglas was
off lock down and in cell block 2B. Plff’s Resp. at ¶¶ 13-14.
Douglas believes Marvin violated his constitutional rights but putting him on lock down in
“harmful, non-healthy, conditions.” Plff’s Resp. at ¶ 15. Douglas believes Marvin was aware of the
conditions in the cell. Id. Douglas asserts that after he was released from lock down Marvin had the
lights repaired. Id. Douglas maintains that he should not have to ask to have the hot water fixed or
the lights repaired. Id. at ¶ 17. He asserts that all detention center staff were aware of the problem.
2. Applicable Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), the record "show[s] that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "Once
a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue
of material fact exists." National Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chemical Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th
The non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. "They must show there is sufficient
evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor." National Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). "A case founded on speculation or suspicion is
insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment." Id. (citing, Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621,
625 (8th Cir. 1985)).
Marvin has moved for summary judgment on a variety of arguments. First, he notes that
Douglas was aware of the CCDC grievance procedure but never filed any grievances relating to the
subject matter of this lawsuit. Second, Marvin contends that no claim has been stated against him.
Third, Marvin argues that Douglas was notified of his right to a lock down hearing and chose not to
take advantage of the right. Finally, even assuming Douglas was housed in a dark cell with no hot
water for two weeks, Marvin maintains that given the short duration of the confinement it is not
sufficiently serious to amount to a constitutional violation.
I will address the exhaustion issue first as a finding in favor of the Defendant on the exhaustion
issue is fatal to Douglas’ claims. Marvin maintains that Douglas’ claims must be dismissed because
Plaintiff did not exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (PLRA) prior to filing this lawsuit.
The PLRA, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), mandates exhaustion of available administrative remedies
before an inmate files suit. Section 1997e(a) provides: “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to
prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in
any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are
The Supreme Court has held that the "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 v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 534 (2002). In Booth v.
Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 738-39 (2001), the Court held that “exhaustion is required where administrative
remedies are available even if the available administrative remedies do not provide the precise, or full,
relief sought.” Walker v. Maschner, 270 F.3d 573, 577 (8th Cir. 2001). "If an inmate fails to exhaust
one or more discrete claims raised in a § 1983 complaint, the PLRA requires only that the unexhausted
claim or claims be dismissed–it does not require that the complaint be dismissed it its entirety." Id.
In this case, Douglas has sworn under penalty of perjury that he requested grievance forms and
was denied those forms while he was on lock down. When detention center officials deny an inmate
access to grievance forms, they cannot rely on the defense that the inmate failed to exhaust his
remedies. See e.g., Miller v. Norris, 247 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001)(prisoner’s allegations that prison
officials denied his requests for grievance forms could raise inference that he was prevented from
utilizing prison’s administrative remedies; remedy that prison officials prevent prisoner from utilizing
is not “available” under § 1997e(a)). The evidence in this case establishes that by no later than
February 17th, Douglas had access to those forms.
In this case, there is no question that a grievance procedure existed; Douglas was aware of it;
and he failed to submit grievances regarding the claims at issue in this case. Douglas cannot rely on
a grievance filed by another inmate to comply with the exhaustion requirement. See e.g., Roberson v.
Martens, 2010 WL 3779544 (W.D. Mich. August 25, 2010)(Grievance filed by another inmate “did not
exhaust plaintiff’s administrative remedies, because it was not plaintiff’s grievance”); Cf Shariff v.
Coombe, 655 F. Supp. 2d. 274, 288 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)(“Plaintiffs’ related argument that a grievance filed
by one inmate that receives a favorable determination should suffice for all inmates is . . . unavailing.”).
For the reasons stated, Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Docs. 15-17) will be
granted. A separate order in accordance with this opinion will be entered.
DATED this 12thday of June 2013 .
HON. JAMES R. MARSCHEWSKI
CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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