Esposito v. Hohenfeldt et al
ORDER that the 20 defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and defendant Hohenfeldt is DISMISSED from this case signed by Judge William C. Griesbach on 6/3/2021. (cc: all counsel and mailed to pro se party)(Griesbach, William)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
EDWARD LOUIS ESPOSITO,
Case No. 20-C-1488
JONATHAN HOHENFELDT, et al,
DECISION AND ORDER ON EXHAUSTION
Plaintiff Edward Louis Esposito, who is representing himself, is proceeding with claims
under 42 U.S.C. §1983 that defendant Jonathan Hohenfeldt used excessive force at the Racine
County Jail on July 25, 2020, and defendant Latisha Ramus was deliberately indifferent towards
his injuries following the excessive force incident. See Dkt. No. 1; see also Dkt. No. 10 at 5. On
February 11, 2021, Hohenfeldt filed a motion for summary judgment based on Esposito’s failure
to exhaust administrative remedies prior to bringing this lawsuit. Dkt. No. 20. For the reasons
explained below, the Court will grant the motion and dismiss Esposito’s claim against Hohenfeldt.
At the relevant time, Esposito was in custody at the Racine County Jail on a probation hold
and pending charges. Dkt. No. 21, ¶1. Hohenfeldt was a deputy at the jail. Id., ¶2. According to
the complaint, on July 25, 2020, Hohenfeldt knelt on Esposito’s back and broke his rib. Id.; see
also Dkt. No. 1. About six days later, on July 31, 2020, Esposito filed an inmate complaint. Dkt.
No. 21, ¶3. The inmate complaint raised multiple issues concerning the medical care, including
denial of a mattress for chronic back pain, poor medical care, and denial of medication. The
grievance also alludes to being disciplined for standing up for himself, being tazed, denial of his
bi-polar medication, and having “a broken rib now from Officer Hohenfeldt.” Id., ¶4; see also
Dkt. No. 23-2. The grievance says nothing about how the broken rib occurred and contains no
accusation that Officer Hohenfeldt used excessive force. This inmate complaint was forwarded to
medical staff to resolve the medical issues; and medical staff addressed the medical issues on
August 3, 2020. Dkt. No. 21, ¶¶5, 10-11. The remainder of the issues were not addressed
purportedly because the inmate complaint improperly raised multiple issues in the same inmate
complaint. Id., ¶9. There is no evidence that Esposito was ever told that his grievance was rejected.
Esposito filed no other grievances or appeals related to the incident of July 25, 2020. Id., ¶¶6, 12.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party shows that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). “Material facts” are those under the applicable substantive law that “might
affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A
dispute over a “material fact” is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. All reasonable inferences are construed in favor of
the nonmoving party. Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004). The party
opposing the motion for summary judgment must “submit evidentiary materials that set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Siegel v. Shell Oil Co., 612 F.3d 932,
937 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). “The nonmoving party must do more than simply show
that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Id. Summary judgment is properly
entered against a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to the party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Parent v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 694 F.3d 919, 922 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted).
“[N]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this
title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional
facility until administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a). “To
satisfy the exhaustion requirement, an inmate must take each of the steps prescribed by the state’s
administrative rules governing prison grievances.” See Chambers v. Sood, 956 F.3d 979, 983 (7th
Cir. 2020) (citing Lockett v. Bonson, 937 F.3d 1016, 1025 (7th Cir. 2019)). “The primary
justification for requiring prisoners to exhaust administrative remedies is to give the prison an
opportunity to address the problem before burdensome litigation is filed.” Id. (citing Woodford v.
Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93-95 (2006) and Schillinger v. Kiley, 954 F.3d 990, 995-96 (7th Cir. 2020)).
If administrative procedures are not available, however, exhaustion is not required. Hernandez v.
Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 842 (7th Cir. 2016). “Prison authorities cannot immunize themselves from
suit by establishing procedures that in practice are not available because they are impossible to
comply with or simply do not exist.” King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 893 (7th Cir. 2015).
The Racine County Jail outlines its inmate grievance procedure in the Inmate Handbook.
Dkt. No. 23-1. Inmates are required to use the grievance procedure to resolve any matter in which
the inmate “is personally affected in one of the following ways: health, safety/welfare, disciplinary
procedure, facility operation, or availability of services.” Id. at 2-3, §D. To properly exhaust
administrative remedies, the inmate must file a grievance within seven (7) calendar days of the
occurrence. Id., §A. The grievance may address only one issue. Id., §B. Properly submitted
grievances are investigated and responded to within fourteen (14) calendar days. Id., §G. If a
grievance is not considered because it was filed improperly, another grievance may be submitted
using the proper grievance procedure. Id., §F.
Hohenfeldt argues that the undisputed evidence shows that Esposito failed to comply with
the jail’s grievance procedures because he raised multiple issues in the same inmate complaint.
Medical staff addressed the medical issues on August 3, 2020, but the remaining issues were not
addressed because they were improperly raised. The defendant notes that the jail’s exhaustion
procedures specifically notified Esposito that he could file another inmate complaint if his
grievance was not considered because it was filed improperly, but Esposito did not do this.
What the defense fails to note, however, is that Esposito was never informed his grievance
was rejected because it addressed more than one issue. Without being told his grievance was
rejected, Esposito would have no reason to submit a new one. For this reason, the Court is reluctant
to dismiss Esposito’s claim against Hohenfeldt on this basis. On the other hand, it appears from
the Court’s review of the grievance Esposito did file that it does not contain any claim against
Officer Hohenfeldt. The grievance recites a list of complaints Esposito has, primarily dealing with
his medical care, and then adds as another condition for which he needs medical care the statement,
“I also have a broken rib now from Officer Hohenfeldt.” Dkt. No. 23-2. There is no allegation
that Officer Hohenfeldt did anything improper. This is not enough to state a grievance against
Esposito states that he filed eight other inmate complaints and ten medical requests while
at the Racine County Jail. See Dkt. No. 34, ¶¶3, 6. He does not offer any copies of these other
grievances, however, even though he claims his keeps “all my carbon copies.” Dkt. No. 34, ¶6.
Nor does he describe what these other grievances were about. To the extent he offers any
information about them, Esposito identifies in his response materials the date of each of the eight
inmate complaints and the individuals involved in each inmate complaint. See Dkt. No. 34, ¶3.
None of the eight inmate complaints involve Hohenfeldt (three involve Sgt. Luedtke; two involve
Sgt. Clope; two involve Capt. Friend; and one involves Sgt. Hesthaven). Further, four of the eight
inmate complaints were filed on or after August 5, 2020, which means they were untimely filed
more than 7 calendar days after July 25, 2020 occurrence. Esposito’s ten medical requests also do
not exhaust his excessive force claim.
In other words, Esposito has not placed in dispute the declaration of Lt. Jason Yohn, who
states upon his review of Esposito’s file that it contains no other grievance relating to Officer
Hohenfeldt or the July 25, 2020 incident. Dkt. No. 23, ¶ 10. Esposito was advised that to defeat
the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, he “must support every disagreement with a
proposed fact by citing to evidence.” Dkt. No. 25 at 2. The Court explained that he could do this by
“relying on documents that he attaches to his response.” Id. Esposito clearly did not do this.
In sum, Esposito was required to exhaust administrative remedies by filing “complaints and
appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison’s administrative rules require.”
McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002). The jail specifically requires inmates to
formally raise grievances using an Inmate Request Form. See Dkt. No. 23-1 at 2. Esposito cannot
exhaust his excessive force claim by filing a medical request. Based on the undisputed evidence,
the Court is satisfied that Esposito failed to exhaust administrative remedies with respect to the
excessive force claim against Hohenfeldt. The Court will grant the motion for summary judgment
and dismiss Hohenfeldt from this case.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment
(Dkt. No. 20) is GRANTED and defendant Hohenfeldt is DISMISSED from this case.
Dated at Green Bay, Wisconsin this 3rd day of June, 2021.
s/ William C. Griesbach
William C. Griesbach
United States District Judge
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?