COLLINS v. WEBSTER et al
ORDER re 46 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, THOMAS WEBSTER, JULIE BEIGHLEY - defendants request for summary judgment as to the affirmative defense that Collins failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to filing this action is denied. Resolution of the remaining issues raised in the defendants motion for summary judgment shall be addressed in a separate Entry. The motion for summary judgment 46 remains pending. Copy to plaintiff via U.S. Mail. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 2/1/2012.(RSF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
BOBBY RAY COLLINS,
THOMAS WEBSTER, M.D., et al.,
Entry Discussing Exhaustion Requirement and Defense
Plaintiff Bobby Ray Collins filed a Second Amended Complaint on April 4,
2011, in which he claims that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
medical needs by denying him medical treatment and deliberately acting to cause
him pain. Collins’ first specification of constitutionally deficient medical care is that
the defendants failed to form a utilization review committee and order an MRI test
of his knee, and thus failed to diagnose and properly treat his January 4, 2009,
right knee injury. (Response at 15, 20, and 24.)
The individual defendants Dr. Thomas Webster (retired), Julie Beighley,
Health Services Administrator, and Michael Armstrong, Physician’s Assistant
(retired) seek summary judgment on their affirmative defense that Collins failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies regarding the medical care provided for his
knee injury prior to filing this action. The defendants argue that Collins did not
exhaust his available administrative remedies concerning his knee injury and
therefore this unexhausted claim must be dismissed without prejudice.
Whether Collins failed to exhaust his administrative remedies must be
resolved before the merits of his claims (upon which the defendants also seek
summary judgment). Pavey v. Conley, 528 F.3d 494, 498 (7th Cir. 2008); Perez v.
Wis. Dep't of Corr., 182 F.3d 532, 536 (7th Cir. 1999) ("The statute [requiring
administrative exhaustion] can function properly only if the judge resolves disputes
about its application before turning to any other issue in the suit.").
Standard of Review
The motion for summary judgment in this civil rights action, as with any
such motion, must be granted Aif 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.”
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). “The applicable
substantive law will dictate which facts are material.” National Soffit &
Escutcheons, Inc., v. Superior Systems, Inc., 98 F.3d 262, 265 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). A dispute is genuine only if a reasonable jury could find
for the non-moving party. Id. If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving
party, then there is no Agenuine@ dispute. Scott v. Harris, 127 S. Ct. 1769, 1776
The substantive law applicable to the defendant’s failure to exhaust defense
is this: 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).
“[T]he 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 (citation
omitted). "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.'" Dale v. Lappin, 376 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting Pozo v.
McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002)).
The undisputed facts relevant to the resolution of this claim are the
The BOP has promulgated an administrative remedy system which is
embodied in 28 C.F.R. §§ 542.10 through 542.16 and Program
Statement (PS) 1330.16, Administrative Remedy Program.
This system consists of a three-level administrative remedy process,
which is a method by which an inmate may seek formal review of a
complaint related to any aspect of his imprisonment. 28 C.F.R.
§ 542.10. Collins was aware of the administrative remedy system’s
All requests for administrative remedy are logged and tracked in the
SENTRY computer program, which is an electronic record keeping
system utilized by the Bureau of Prisons. Collins filed a total of 231
Administrative Remedy requests since he began his incarceration
Collins did not fully exhaust an administrative remedy request
regarding his knee identified as Remedy Identification Number
Collins did fully exhaust his administrative remedies as to the request
identified as number 526047.
The defendants argue that Collins’ number 526047 regards not being seen for
sick call for the listed days and notes that the abstract recorded in the SENTRY
system states “says has filled out sick calls and not been seen.” Dkt. 70-4 at p. 2.
Further, the defendants argue that the matters addressed in number 526047 can
only involve matters up to January 6, 2009.
The defendants’ argument is not persuasive. It is true that the SENTRY
records do not reflect that administrative remedy number 526047 complains about
the treatment and diagnosis of his knee. This can be reasonably attributed to the
fact that input fields in the SENTRY database only allow for a certain level of
detail. In this instance, the actual remedy requests and responses are a better
indicator of the issue exhausted. See dkt 52-1 at pages 1-9. For example, in response
to Collins’ administrative remedy appeal, the Central Office described Collins’
administrative remedy request as contending that he had “not been evaluated and
treated for right knee pain. As relief, you request medical evaluation and treatment
of your right knee pain.” Dkt 52-1 at p. 3. The Central Office responded by stating
that the record reflects Collins was receiving medical care and treatment in
accordance with policy. Id. Given these circumstances, the court holds that Collins
did in fact exhaust his available administrative remedies regarding the treatment of
his January 4, 2009, knee injury and the purpose of the exhaustion requirement
was fulfilled in that prison officials were given the time and opportunity to respond
to Collins’ complaints about the treatment of his knee injury internally before this
litigation was initiated. See Smith v. Zachary, 255 F.3d 446, 450–51 (7th Cir. 2001).
Accordingly, the defendants’ request for summary judgment as to the
affirmative defense that Collins failed to exhaust his available administrative
remedies prior to filing this action is denied. Resolution of the remaining issues
raised in the defendants’ motion for summary judgment shall be addressed in a
separate Entry. The motion for summary judgment  remains pending.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Jeffrey L. Hunter
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Bobby Ray Collins
Lewisburg U.S. Penitentiary
P.O. Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?