Burgdorf v. Missouri Department of Corrections et al
OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 27] is granted. 27 Signed by District Judge Henry Edward Autrey on 3/7/17. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
EDWARD DALE BURGDORF,
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment [Doc. No. 27]. Plaintiff filed Memorandum in Opposition to Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 27].
Defendant has filed a Reply in Support of
the Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 232]. For the reasons set forth
below, the motion is granted.
Plaintiff (Burgdorf) filed this action against Defendant (Lawson) under 42
U.S.C § 1983, alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment of the United States
Constitution by Defendant. At the time of the alleged incident, Plaintiff was
incarcerated at Potosi Correctional Facility where Defendant worked as the
Functional Unit Manager for Housing Unit 4A. Plaintiff alleges that he was forced
by Defendant to engage in work activities that he was medically restricted from,
causing further injury to his wrists, and that the Plaintiff was deliberately
indifferent to his medical restrictions. Plaintiff seeks actual and punitive damages
totaling $40 million dollars.
Statement of Facts
Plaintiff alleges that sometime in June or July of 2014, Defendant forced
Plaintiff to work in a satellite kitchen. Plaintiff was told to push food carts, which
weigh 400 – 600 lbs. Plaintiff told Defendant that he had a medical lay-in (work
restriction) and was not allowed to lift weight in excess of 10 lbs. or to conduct
repetitive motions with his right wrist due to an existing injury. Defendant
determined that while Plaintiff did have a medical lay-in, the restrictions did not
keep Plaintiff from working in the satellite kitchen or from pushing food carts.
When Plaintiff disputed his ability to push the food cart, he was threatened that if
he did not comply, he would be placed in Administrative Segregation, commonly
referred to as “the hole.” Plaintiff complied and reported to the satellite kitchen for
duty where he was instructed to push the food cart. At some point, Plaintiff
suffered injury to his left wrist when it was smashed between a steel door and a
food cart. Plaintiff pushed the food cart using his right wrist, causing serious
damage and complicating his previous injury.
The materials submitted by the Plaintiff reflect that Plaintiff filed an
Informal Resolution Request (IRR) #PCC-14-1565 on November 19, 2014 [Doc.
28-6]. Also included is an Offender Grievance Appeal dated September 24, 2014
[Doc. 29-1]. The document number on the Offender Grievance Appeals is illegible.
Both appear to reference the same situation, however, under the Missouri
Department of Corrections procedure, the filing of an IRR predicates a grievance
appeal. Therefore, the backwards dating on the two forms is incongruent. Plaintiff
asserts in his Complaint that this discrepancy is due to the staff at the Potosi
Correctional Center attempting to “cover this situation up,” but provides no other
details or evidence to support this contention.
Also filed with the Court is Informal Resolution Response for the IRR dated
November 20, 2014. The response dismissed the IRR on the grounds that the filing
violated Missouri Department of Corrections policy covering Informal Resolution
Requests and Grievances (D5-3.2, Section III. K.1.) which states, “Any offender
who wishes to file an informal resolution request, on a grievance issue, must do so
within 15 calendar days from the date of the alleged incident.” The response
concluded, “[Plaintiff] failed to file this IRR within the proper time frame. Your
IRR will be dismissed and your remedies will not be considered.”
Defendant asserts that Plaintiff failed to comply with Missouri Department
of Corrections policy and seeks summary judgment under Federal Rules of
Procedure 56. Further, Defendant asserts the defense of qualified immunity.
Legal Standard for Summary Judgment
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, “[t]he court shall
grant summary judgment if 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.” There
is no express or implied requirement in Rule 56 that the moving party must provide
evidence to negate the non-moving party’s claims. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The rule requires the non-moving party to “go beyond the
pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the ‘depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file,’ designate ‘specific facts showing that there
is a genuine issue for trial.’” Id. at 325. The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates
the entry of summary judgment against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and
on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 323.
Prison Litigation Reform Act
An inmate may bring an action in court against a correctional facility or its
officers only after exhausting his or her administrative remedies. This requirement
is mandated by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), which states, “No
action shall be brought . . . by a prisoner confined in any jail . . . until such
administrative remedies are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). An
inmate must exhaust the administrative remedies of the correctional facility before
filing suit in federal court. Johnson v. Jones, 340 F.3d 624, 627 (8th Cir. 2003). If
exhaustion was not completed at the time of filing, dismissal is mandatory. Id.
Missouri Department of Corrections Offender Grievance Procedure
The Missouri Department of Corrections requires that all Missouri inmates
follow the same grievance procedure irrespective of the prison. The procedures are
set out in the department manual “D5-3.2 Offender Grievances.” There is a threestep process inmates are required to adhere to before their remedies are considered
“exhausted.” For clarity, relevant portions are set forth below:
Informal Resolution Request Process, § III. K(1)
“Any offender who wishes to file an informal resolution
request, on a grievable issue, must do so within 15
calendar days from the date of the alleged incident.”
Offender Grievance Process, § III. L(1)
“After completing the informal resolution request
process, if the offender is not satisfied, she/he may obtain
an Offender Grievance form from designated staff.”
Offender Grievance Process, § III. L(4)
“A grievance must be filed within 7 calendar days after
the offender receives the response on the Informal
Resolution Request Form. Failure to do so will result in
the complaint being abandoned.”
Appeal, § III. M(1)
“If the offender wishes to appeal a grievance, the
offender must submit the original Offender Grievance
Appeal form to the grievance officer within 7 calendar
days. Failure to do so will result in the appeal being
Appeal, § III. M(12)
“After receiving the appeal response, the offender has
exhausted the grievance process.”
The Plaintiff here has provided the Court with no evidence supporting his
claim that he exhausted his remedies by following the administrative procedures
afforded to him by the Missouri Department of Corrections. Plaintiff filed an IRR
dated November 20, 2014, and it was dismissed as untimely by prison officials. To
have met the deadline required, Plaintiff would have had to submit the IRR no later
than 15 days after the alleged incident, which he claims occurred in June or July of
2014. The first required step by Plaintiff was not met, barring him from proceeding
to the next two steps of the grievance process. Thus, as required under the Prisoner
Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a), Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies in order to file his action before the Court.
The motion for summary judgment is granted under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56; therefore, it is unnecessary for the Court to consider Defendant’s
defense of qualified immunity.
Based on the forgoing, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies and therefore there exists no genuine dispute
of any material fact. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment [Doc. No. 27] is granted.
Dated this 7th day of March, 2017.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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