WILSON v. PAYNE et al
ENTRY Discussing Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant's 19 Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED. The Defendants shall have through April 30, 2014, in which to report whether they wish to withdraw the affirmative defense of failure to ex haust administrative remedies. If the affirmative defense is withdrawn, the parties will be allowed time to conduct discovery and to file any further dispositive motion and/or address settlement. If the Defendants do not wish to withdraw this defen se, the Court will set the matter for a hearing on exhaustion pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), before the merits of Mr. Wilson's claims can be addressed. (See Entry). Copy mailed. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 4/4/2014. (MAC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
HAROLD PAYNE and TEDDI BEARD,1
Case No. 1:12-cv-1407-TWP-MJD
Entry Discussing Motion for Summary Judgment
This matter is before the Court on Defendants Harold Payne (“Officer Payne”) and Teddi
Beard (“Officer Beard”) (collectively “Defendants”), Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff
Norman Wilson (“Mr. Wilson”) brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The dispute in
this matter surrounds Mr. Wilson’s claim that on October 16, 2010, Defendants, who are officers
at the Clay County Jail, subjected him to excessive force and that Ms. Beard failed to protect him
from assault. Defendants argue that Mr. Wilson failed to exhaust his available administrative
remedies before filing this lawsuit, therefore summary judgment is appropriate. For the reasons
that follow, the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 19) is DENIED.
I. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment should 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. The Court views the facts in the light most favorable to
Defendant has filed suit against Wayne Payne and Ms. Teddy. It is apparent from the filings that the correct names
of the Defendants are Harold Payne and Teddi Beard. The clerk shall therefore amend the docket to identify the
Defendants as reflected in the caption of this Entry.
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).
II. Statement of Material Facts
Consistent with the foregoing standard, therefore, the following statement of facts is not
necessarily objectively true, but the undisputed facts are presented in the light reasonably most
favorable to Mr. Wilson as the non-moving party with respect to the motion for summary
Mr. Wilson was an inmate of the Clay County Jail (“the Jail”) during October of 2010.
Kenneth Rollings (“Commander Rollings”) is the jail commander, a position he has held since
before the time Mr. Wilson was in the Jail. As jail commander, Commander Rollings is
custodian of the files of all inmates and of the rules and policies of the Jail. The Clay County Jail
Rules and Inmate Handbook provides for a grievance procedure with regard to inmate
complaints. That policy provides:
Steps are taken to informally resolve grievances through inmate interaction with
officers. If this is not successful, then the inmate may request a Grievance From to
fill out and submit to the hearing officer. All inmates filing a grievance form will
receive a written response within 5 business days.
The policy further provides that “[a]ny inmate wanting to appeal a grievance decision may do so
by submitting a Grievance to the Sheriff within 5 days.” Mr. Wilson made no attempt to
informally resolve with either Mr. Payne or Ms. Beard any grievance he had based on the
incident of October 16, 2010. Commander Rollings searched Mr. Wilson’s jail file and all jail
files potentially containing inmate grievances during Mr. Wilson’s incarceration and found no
grievances relating to the October 16, 2010 assault on Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wilson asserts that “there were several and numerous request[s] of grievances that I
wrote to the jail’s commander, sheriff, and other authorities.” Mr. Wilson has provided a copy of
two grievances and several requests for medical care. The first grievance, dated October 17,
2010, asserts “I am requesting that the matters of me being assaulted and severely injured by
your jail officers be addressed.”
The Defendants move for summary judgment arguing that Mr. Wilson failed to exhaust
his available administrative remedies. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires that
a prisoner exhaust his available administrative remedies before bringing a suit concerning prison
conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002). The 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. “Proper 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)). But “[p]rison officials may
not take unfair advantage of the exhaustion requirement, however, and a remedy becomes
‘unavailable’ if prison employees do not respond to a properly filed grievance or otherwise use
affirmative misconduct to prevent a prisoner from exhausting.” Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804,
809 (7th Cir. 2006).
The Defendants first argue that Mr. Wilson failed to exhaust his available administrative
remedies because he never filed a grievance regarding the incident at issue in his complaint. As
already discussed, the facts construed in the light most favorable to Mr. Wilson show that he did
file a grievance, but did not receive a response to that grievance. The Defendants seek to rebut
the fact that Mr. Wilson attempted to grieve his claims regarding the alleged assault, arguing that
because the grievance was not found in the Jail files, it was never received. Because Mr. Wilson
asserts that he attempted to file the grievance, the Court will not weigh the conflicting evidence
or attempt to resolve this question of fact. See Washington v. Haupert, 481 F.3d 543, 550 (7th
Cir. 2007) (“On summary judgment a court may not make credibility determinations, weigh the
evidence, or decide which inferences to draw from the facts; these are jobs for a factfinder.”).
The Defendants also argue that Mr. Wilson failed to exhaust his available administrative
remedies because he did not first try to resolve his grievance informally. This argument fails
because the policy states merely that “[s]teps are taken to informally resolve grievances through
inmate interaction with officers.” This is not clear enough to indicate to an inmate that he is
required as a first step to attempt to resolve his grievance informally.
The Defendants next argue that because he did not appeal any grievance he did file, Mr.
Wilson failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies. Mr. Wilson responds that he
made his best efforts to exhaust his administrative remedies and was ignored. He also asserts that
he was never given a copy of the jail procedures and therefore did not know what was required to
exhaust his administrative remedies. The Jail’s grievance policy, even if it had been provided to
Mr. Wilson, provides no mechanism for how to proceed under these circumstances. He was
therefore thwarted in his attempt to complete the grievance process. See Dole, 438 F.3d at 809.
The Defendants also argue that Mr. Wilson’s grievance was not specific enough to alert
staff to the nature of his complaints. In the absence of more specific requirements in the
grievance procedure, prisoners are only required by the PLRA to put responsible persons on
notice of the conditions about which they are complaining. Strong v. David, 297 F.3d 646, 650
(7th Cir. 2002). Here, the Jail policy does not contain requirements regarding the allegations that
must be included in a grievance. Mr. Wilson’s grievance, dated October 17, 2010, indicated that
he was involved in an assault by jail officers. This is enough to alert the Jail of the nature of the
wrong for which relief is sought.
Under these circumstances, the Defendants have not met their burden of showing that Mr.
Wilson failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies.
Mr. Wilson has shown that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether he
exhausted his available administrative remedies. Accordingly, the Defendants’ motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. 19) must be DENIED.
The Defendants shall have through April 30, 2014, in which to report whether they wish
to withdraw the affirmative defense of failure to exhaust administrative remedies. If the
affirmative defense is withdrawn, the parties will be allowed time to conduct discovery and to
file any further dispositive motion and/or address settlement.
If the Defendants do not wish to withdraw this defense, the Court will set the matter for a
hearing on exhaustion pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), before the
merits of Mr. Wilson’s claims can be addressed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
All electronically registered counsel
NORMAN WILSON, 1610 N. Gilbert Street, Danville, IN 61832
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