CARTER v. BROWN
Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment - Warden Brown's motion for partial summary judgment, dkt. 22 , is granted. Mr. Carter's Eighth Amendment claim is dismissed without prejudice. Mr. Carter's due process claims shall proceed. (SEE ORDER) Copy to plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge James Patrick Hanlon on 9/19/2022. (KAA)
Case 2:20-cv-00614-JPH-DLP Document 44 Filed 09/19/22 Page 1 of 6 PageID #: 286
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Antwion Carter is an inmate at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. In 2019, he was
disciplined by Wabash Valley officials for conspiring to traffic contraband in the Facility. The
disciplinary charge and conviction were eventually vacated. See Carter v. Brown, No. 2:19-cv236-JPH-MJD, 2020 WL 2039751 (S.D. Ind. 2019). Mr. Carter then brought this suit against
Warden Richard Brown contending that his Fourteenth and Eighth Amendment rights were
violated. Warden Brown now seeks summary judgment on Mr. Carter's Eighth Amendment
claim, arguing Mr. Carter failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit.
For the reasons that follow, Warden's Brown motion is granted.
Standard of Review
Parties in a civil dispute may move for summary judgment, which is a way of resolving a
case short of a trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no
genuine dispute as to any of the material facts, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Id.; Pack v. Middlebury Comm. Sch., 990 F.3d 1013, 1017 (7th Cir. 2021).
A "genuine dispute" exists when a reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the nonmoving
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party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "Material facts" are those that
might affect the outcome of the suit. Id.
When reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the record and draws
all reasonable inferences from it in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Khungar v.
Access Cmty. Health Network, 985 F.3d 565, 572-73 (7th Cir. 2021). It cannot weigh evidence or
make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the factfinder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court is only required to
consider the materials cited by the parties, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3); it is not required to "scour
every inch of the record" for evidence that is potentially relevant. Grant v. Tr. of Ind. Univ., 870
F.3d 562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017).
"[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,'
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by
'showing'—that is, pointing out to the district court—that there is an absence of evidence to support
the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.
Because Defendant has moved for summary judgment under Rule 56(a), the Court views
the evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Stark v. Johnson & Johnson, 10 F.4th 823,
825 (7th Cir. 2021).
In December 2018, a correctional officer charged Mr. Carter with conspiracy to aid in
trafficking, a violation of the Indiana Department of Corrections Disciplinary Code 111 and 113.
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Dkt. 36-1, Ex. A., Report of Conduct. Mr. Carter was found guilty and received a written
reprimand, a forty-five-day loss of phone privileges, a six-month placement in disciplinary
restrictive housing, a 180-day loss of credit time, and a credit-class demotion. Dkt. 36-1, Ex. C,
Report of Disciplinary Hearing. Mr. Carter appealed his disciplinary conviction, but Warden
Brown denied his appeal. Dkt. 36-1, Ex. D, Disciplinary Hearing Appeal. Mr. Carter filed a second
appeal to the Department of Correction reviewing authority, but, again, his appeal was denied.
Dkt. 36-1, Ex. E, Offender Appeal. Mr. Carter then filed a petition for habeas corpus in the
Southern District of Indiana. See Carter v. Brown, No. 2:19-cv-236-JPH-MJD, 2020 WL 2039751
(S.D. Ind. 2019). His petition was granted, and his disciplinary sanctions were vacated. Id.at *3.
During this time, Wabash Valley maintained an offender grievance process that tracks
the Indiana Department of Correction's standardized grievance process for all state facilities.
See Dkt. 22-1, Declaration of Thomas Wellington ¶¶ 3–4, 8; see also Dkt. 22-2, IDOC Offender
Grievance Policy 00-02-301. The first step in the process is to file a formal grievance using an
Offender Grievance Form. Dkt. 22-1, ¶ 10. The second step is to file a written appeal to the Warden
or their designee. Id. And the final step is to file a written appeal with the department grievance
manager. Id. An inmate must complete all three steps to fully exhaust their administrative remedies
at Wabash Valley. Id. ¶ 11. Inmates learn about the grievance process during orientation and can
access a copy of the policy in the facility law library. Id. ¶¶ 24, 25.
The grievance process covers many different prisoner issues. Id. ¶ 22. Most relevant here,
it covers "concerns relating to the conditions of care." Id. Certain issues, however, fall outside the
scope of the grievance process. See Dkt. 22-2 at 4. These include "[d]isciplinary actions or
decisions," as there is a separate appeal process for those issues. Id.
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During the entirety of Mr. Carter's disciplinary charge, conviction, and appeals, Mr. Carter
filed four grievances pursuant to Wabash Valley's grievance process. Id. ¶ 29; see also Dkt. 22-3,
Offender Grievance History. These grievances related to Mr. Carter's receipt of the mail,
environmental conditions, and electronic tablet; they did not concern the issues detailed in his
complaint. Dkt. 22-1, ¶ 30. Mr. Carter never filed an appeal related to any one of those grievances.
Mr. Carter filed this suit against Warden Brown on November 23, 2020. Dkt. 1. Warden
Brown now moves for summary judgment on Mr. Carter's Eighth Amendment claim arguing that
Mr. Carter never filed a grievance related to the conditions of his confinement, and therefore failed
to exhaust administrative remedies. Dkt. 22; dkt. 41.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires inmates to exhaust their available administrative
remedies before suing in federal court. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Williams v. Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., 957 F.3d 828, 831 (7th Cir. 2020). This requirement is mandatory: a court cannot excuse an
inmate's failure to exhaust. Ross v. Blake, 578 U.S. 1174, 1856 (2016). To satisfy the Act's
exhaustion requirement, an inmate must strictly comply with the prison's administrative rules for
filing grievances. Reid v. Balota, 962 F.3d 325, 329 (7th Cir. 2020). The administrative remedies,
however, must be "available" to the inmate. Hernandez v. Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 840 (7th Cir. 2016)
(internal quotations and citations omitted); see also Reid, 962 F.3d at 329 ("The exhaustion
requirement, however, hinges on the availability of administrative remedies.") (internal quotations
omitted) (citing Ross, 578 U.S. at 1858). An inmate is not required to exhaust administrative
remedies that are unavailable. Hernandez, 814 F.3d at 842. Failure to exhaust is an affirmative
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defense, so Warden Brown bears the burden of proof. Lanaghan v. Koch, 902 F.3d 683, 688 (7th
Here, Mr. Carter failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to his Eighth
Amendment conditions of confinement claim. Wabash Valley has a grievance process and
Mr. Carter has demonstrated that he knows how to use the process. Dkt. 22-1, ¶¶ 3–4; dkt. 22-3.
But the undisputed evidence shows Mr. Carter did not submit any grievances related to conditions
of his confinement while in segregation. Dkt. 22-1, ¶ 30.
Mr. Carter does not dispute that he failed to complete the grievance process. He argues that
he was not required to complete the grievance process because it does not apply to disciplinary
actions or decisions. See Dkt. 35, Response at 5–6; dkt. 37, Brief in Support at 7–8. But Mr. Carter's
Eighth Amendment claim relates to the conditions of confinement that he experienced while in
segregation, not the decision to put him in segregation. And "concerns relating to the conditions
of care or supervision within the Department [of Correction]" may be grieved. Dkt. 22-2 at 3
(grievance policy). Mr. Carter's conditions of confinement claim is separate and distinct from his
due process claim. See, e.g., Williams v. Brown, 849 F. App'x 154, 158 (7th Cir. 2021). Therefore,
he was required to use Wabash Valley's offender grievance process before bringing a federal
lawsuit based on conditions of confinement. Mr. Carter therefore failed to exhaust his available
administrative remedies for his Eighth Amendment claim before filing suit, and Warden Brown is
entitled to summary judgment on that claim. Crouch v. Brown, 27 F.4th 1315, 1321 (7th Cir. 2022)
("[A] prisoner must exhaust his or her administrative remedies before filing a federal claim about
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Warden Brown's motion for partial summary judgment, dkt. , is granted. Mr. Carter's
Eighth Amendment claim is dismissed without prejudice. Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 401
(7th Cir. 2004) ("We therefore hold that all dismissals under § 1997e(a) should be without
prejudice."). Mr. Carter's due process claims shall proceed.
WABASH VALLEY - CF
WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
6908 S. Old US Hwy 41
P.O. Box 1111
CARLISLE, IN 47838
Adrienne Nicole Pope
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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