Jones #192273 v. Correctional Medical Systems, Inc. et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION that deft's motion for summary judgment 18 be granted; objections to R&R due within 10 days; signed by Magistrate Judge Joseph G. Scoville (Magistrate Judge Joseph G. Scoville, mmh)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION
TERRANCE LAMONT JONES, #192273, ) a/k/a/ Terrence Lamont Jones, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) ) STEVEN FREDENBURG, ) ) Defendant. ) ____________________________________)
Case No. 1:07-cv-939 Honorable Janet T. Neff REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This is a civil rights action brought pro se by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently an inmate at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility (ARF). His complaint relates to the medical care that he received on August 17, 2007, while he was an inmate at the Deerfield Correctional Facility (ITF), located in Ionia, Michigan. On October 22, 2007, the court entered an order (docket # 7) dismissing all plaintiff's claims with the exception of a claim against defendant Steven Fredenburg, R.N., for deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs. (docket # 7). The matter is currently before me on defendant Fredenburg's motion for summary judgment, raising the affirmative defense of failure to properly exhaust state remedies. (docket # 18)1. On April 21, 2008, the court entered an order advising plaintiff of his opportunity to submit affidavits, documents or other materials in opposition to defendant's motion on or before May 19, "Friedenberg" is the spelling plaintiff used in his complaint for the defendant's last name. The correct spelling is "Fredenburg."
2008. (docket # 21). Plaintiff has elected not to file a response to defendant's motion. For the reasons set forth herein, I recommend that defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted, and that plaintiff's complaint be dismissed with prejudice.
Applicable Standards A. Summary Judgment Standard Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); S.S. v. Eastern Ky. Univ., 532 F.3d 455, 452 (6th Cir. 2008). The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is "whether `the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" El Bey v. Roop, 530 F.3d 407, 413 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The court must consider all pleadings, depositions, affidavits, and admissions on file, and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Smith v. Williams-Ash, 520 F.3d 596, 599 (6th Cir. 2008). When the party without the burden of proof (generally the defendant) seeks summary judgment, that party bears the initial burden of pointing out to the district court an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, but need not support its motion with affidavits or other materials "negating" the opponent's claim. See Morris v. Oldham County Fiscal Court, 201 F.3d 784, 787 (6th Cir. 2000); see also Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir. 2005). Once the movant shows that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case," the nonmoving party has the burden of coming forward with evidence raising a triable issue of fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To sustain this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on the mere allegations of his pleadings. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); see Helms v. Zubaty, 495 F.3d 252, 255 (6th Cir. 2007). The motion for summary judgment forces the nonmoving party to present evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact for trial. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1478 (6th Cir. 1990). "A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient; `there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].'" Daniels v. Woodside, 396 F.3d 730, 734 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252); see Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. WB Music Corp., 508 F.3d 394, 398 (6th Cir. 2007). A moving party with the burden of proof (typically the plaintiff) faces a "substantially higher hurdle." Arnett v. Myers, 281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002); Cockrel v. Shelby County Sch. Dist., 270 F.3d 1036, 1056 (6th Cir. 2001). As shown above, the moving party without the burden of proof needs only show that the opponent cannot sustain his burden at trial. "But where the moving party has the burden -- the plaintiff on a claim for relief or the defendant on an affirmative defense -- his showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party." Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986) (quoting W. SCHWARZER, Summary Judgment Under the Federal Rules: Defining Genuine Issues of Material Fact, 99 F.R.D. 465, 487-88 (1984)). The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has repeatedly emphasized that the party with the burden of proof faces "a substantially higher hurdle" and "`must show that the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it.'" Arnett, 281 F.3d at 561 (quoting 11 JAMES WILLIAM MOORE, -3ET AL.,
FED ER A L PRACTICE § 56.13, at 56-138 (3d ed. 2000)); Cockrel, 270 F.2d at 1056 (same). Accordingly, a summary judgment in favor of the party with the burden of persuasion "is inappropriate when the evidence is susceptible of different interpretations or inferences by the trier of fact." Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 553 (1999). This higher standard applies because exhaustion under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) is an affirmative defense.
Standards Applicable to the Affirmative Defense of Failure to Exhaust Remedies Defendant has asserted the affirmative defense of plaintiff's failure to exhaust
administrative remedies. A prisoner bringing an action with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must exhaust available administrative remedies. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Jones v. Bock, 127 S. Ct. 910, 923 (2007); Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731 (2001). A prisoner must exhaust available administrative remedies, even if the prisoner may not be able to obtain the specific type of relief he seeks in the state administrative process. See Porter, 534 U.S. at 520; Booth, 532 U.S. at 734. In Jones v. Bock, the Supreme Court held that "exhaustion is an affirmative defense, and prisoners are not required to specifically plead or demonstrate exhaustion in their complaints." 127 S. Ct. at 921. The burden is on defendant to show that plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reiterated that "no unexhausted claim may be considered." 127 S. Ct. at 923. The Court held that when a prisoner complaint contains both exhausted and unexhausted claims, the lower courts should not dismiss the entire "mixed" complaint, but are required to dismiss the unexhausted claims and proceed to address only the exhausted claims. 127 S. Ct. at 923-26.
In order to exhaust administrative remedies, prisoners must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the deadlines and other applicable procedural rules established by state law. Jones v. Bock, 127 S. Ct. at 922-23. In Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81 (2006), the Supreme Court held that the PLRA exhaustion requirement "requires proper exhaustion." 548 U.S. at 93. "Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules." Id. at 90. Thus, when a prisoner's grievance is rejected by the prison as untimely because it was not filed within the prescribed period, the prisoner's claim is not "properly exhausted" for purposes of filing a § 1983 action in federal court. Id. at 90-93; see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). MDOC Policy Directive 03.02.130 (effective July 9, 2007), sets forth the applicable grievance procedures for prisoners in MDOC custody at the time relevant to this complaint. (See docket #19, Ex. B). Inmates must first attempt to resolve a problem orally within two business days of becoming aware of the grievable issue, unless prevented by circumstances beyond his or her control. Id. at ¶ P. If oral resolution is unsuccessful, the inmate may proceed to Step I of the grievance process and submit a completed grievance form within five business days of the attempted oral resolution. Id. The Policy Directive also provides the following directions for completing grievance forms: "The issues shall be stated briefly but concisely. Information provided is to be limited to the facts involving the issue being grieved (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, how). Dates, times, places and names of all those involved in the issue being grieved are to be included." Id. at ¶ R (emphasis in original). Thus, where an individual is not named in the Step I grievance, or his or her involvement in the issue being grieved is not indicated, or the individual is mentioned for the first time during an appeal of a denial of a grievance, the claims against that individual are not -5-
properly exhausted. See Davis v. Straub, No. 1:07-cv-156, 2008 WL 696603, at * 5 (W.D. Mich. Mar. 13, 2008). The inmate submits the grievance to a designated grievance coordinator, who assigns it to a respondent. Id. at ¶¶ W, X. If the inmate is dissatisfied with the Step I response, or does not receive a timely response, he may appeal to Step II by obtaining an appeal form within ten business days of the response, or if no response was received, within ten business days after the response was due. Id. at ¶ BB. The respondent at Step II is designated by the policy. The Step II respondent for grievances regarding health care issues is the regional health administrator or his designee. Id. at ¶ DD. If the inmate is dissatisfied with the Step II response, or does not receive a timely Step II response, he may appeal to Step III using the same appeal form. Id. at ¶ FF. The Step III form shall be sent within ten business days after receiving the Step II response, or if no Step II response was received, within ten business days after the date the Step II response was due. Id. at ¶ FF. The Grievance and Appeals Section is the Step III respondent. Id. at ¶ GG. Time limitations shall be adhered to by the inmate and staff at all steps of the grievance process. Id. at ¶ S. "The total grievance process from the point of filing a Step I grievance to providing a Step III response shall generally be completed within 120 calendar days unless an extension has been approved in writing ...." Id. A prisoner must pursue appeals of his grievance through Step III of the administrative process. An argument that it would have been futile to file a grievance does not suffice. Assertions of futility do not excuse plaintiff from the exhaustion requirement. See Hartsfield v. Vidor, 199 F.3d 305, 309 (6th Cir.1999) ( "[A]n inmate cannot simply fail to file a grievance or abandon the process before completion and claim that he has exhausted his remedies or that it is futile for him to do so -6-
because his grievance is now time-barred under the regulations."); see also Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. at 741 n. 6 ("[W]e will not read futility or other exceptions into statutory exhaustion requirements where Congress has provided otherwise."); Jones v. Douglas, 108 F. App'x 254, 256 (6th Cir.2004).
Proposed Findings of Fact The following facts are beyond genuine issue. Plaintiff's complaint, as amended, alleges that on August 17, 2007, defendant Fredenburg was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when Nurse Fredenburg failed to adequately respond to plaintiff's complaints of chest pain. Plaintiff has never appealed any grievance through Step III of the MDOC's grievance process. (Armstrong Aff. ¶ 15, docket # 19, Ex. A).
Discussion "Congress enacted the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), 110 Stat. 132171, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e et seq. in 1996 in the wake of a sharp rise in prisoner litigation in the federal courts. The PLRA contains a variety of provisions designed to bring this litigation under control . . . . A centerpiece of the PLRA's effort `to reduce the quantity . . . of prisoner suits' is an `invigorated' exhaustion provision, § 1997e(a)." Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 84 (2006). "The exhaustion provision of the PLRA states: `No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983] 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 exhausted.'" Jones v. Bock, 127 S. Ct. 910, 914 (2007) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)). Plaintiff has
never pursued any grievance against defendant through Step III of the grievance process. Accordingly, I find that plaintiff did not properly exhaust his claim against defendant.
Recommended Disposition For the reasons set forth herein, I recommend that defendant's motion for summary judgment (docket # 18) be granted, and that plaintiff's complaint be dismissed with prejudice.
Dated: September 23, 2008
/s/ Joseph G. Scoville United States Magistrate Judge
NOTICE TO PARTIES Any objections to this Report and Recommendation must be filed and served within ten days of service of this notice on you. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b). All objections and responses to objections are governed by W.D. MICH. LCIVR 72.3(b). Failure to file timely objections may constitute a waiver of any further right of appeal. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Neuman v. Rivers, 125 F.3d 315, 322-23 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1030 (1997); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981).
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