United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
JEROME T. KEARNEY, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Hayward Patterson is a state inmate incarcerated at the Varner Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). He filed this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging retaliation and racial discrimination against Defendants Tims, Rogers, and Budnik, with respect to incidents which occurred while Plaintiff was housed at the Grimes Unit of the ADC.
This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 21). Plaintiff has not filed a Response, despite the Court's September 17, 2014 Order directing such (Doc. No. 24).
According to his Amended Complaint, Defendant Tims signed a grievance submitted by Plaintiff on November 29, 2012, but never provided Plaintiff with a copy (Doc. No. 5, p. 4.) Then on August 8, 2013, Tims again refused to give Plaintiff a copy of a grievance he signed "with a malicious and discriminatory behavior act of retaliation against me." (Id.) Later, Defendant Rogers informed Plaintiff he dismissed a disciplinary charge Tims wrote against him. (Id.) Plaintiff claims Tims' actions were discriminatory and intended to deprive him access to the grievance process. ( Id., p. 5.) He also claims that Defendant Budnik was responsible for failing to confront Tims, and therefore, failed to protect Plaintiff from Tims' malicious behavior. (Id.) Finally, he claims Defendant Rogers, as Tims' supervisor, is liable and responsible for the continuous harassment and retaliation he suffered. (Id.)
II. Summary Judgment
Pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate if the record shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Dulany v. Carnahan , 132 F.3d 1234, 1237 (8th Cir. 1997). "The moving party bears the initial burden of 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.'" Webb v. Lawrence County , 144 F.3d 1131, 1134 (8th Cir. 1998), quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (other citations omitted). "Once the moving party has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on mere denials or allegations in the pleadings; rather, the non-movant must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 1135. Although the facts are viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, "in order to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant cannot simply create a factual dispute; rather, there must be a genuine dispute over those facts that could actually affect the outcome of the lawsuit." Id.
In addition, "[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement (of undisputed material facts) filed by the moving party... shall be deemed admitted unless controverted by the statement filed by the non-moving party...." Local Rule 56.1, Rules of the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas. Failure to properly support or address the moving party's assertion of fact can result in the fact considered as undisputed for purposes of the motion. FED.R.CIV.P. 56(e)(2). In this case, in light of Plaintiff's failure to respond to the Motion and to offer a dispute of the facts asserted by Defendants, the Court finds that the facts set forth by Defendants are undisputed for purposes of the Motion, and that summary judgment should be granted as a matter of law. See FED.R.CIV.P. 56(e)(2), (3).
A. Official Capacity Immunity
First, the Court finds Plaintiff's monetary claims against Defendants in their official capacities should be dismissed pursuant to sovereign immunity. Will v. Michigan Dept. Of State Police , 491 U.S. 58, 65 (1989); Murphy v. State of Arkansas , 127 F.3d 750, 755 (8th Cir. 1997).
Next, the Court agrees that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Budnik and Rogers should be dismissed, for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies, as required by the ADC grievance policy and the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. According to the PLRA,
No 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 such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), unconst'l on other grounds, Siggers-El v. Barlow , 433 F.Supp.2d 811, 813 (E.D. Mich. 2006). The courts have interpreted this provision as a mandatory requirement that administrative remedies be exhausted prior to the filing of a lawsuit. In Booth v. Churner, the United States Supreme Court held that in enacting the PLRA, "Congress has mandated exhaustion clearly enough, regardless of the relief offered through administrative procedures." 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). In addition, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held, "[t]he statute's requirements are clear: If administrative remedies are available, the prisoner must exhaust them. Chelette failed to do so, and so his complaint must be dismissed, for we are not free to engraft upon the statute an exception that Congress did not place there.'" Chelette v. Harris , 229 F.3d 684, 688 (8th Cir. 2000) (quoting Castano v. Nebraska Dep't of Corrections , 201 F.3d 1023, 1025 (8th Cir. 2000)). In Johnson v. Jones, the Court held that "[u]nder the plain language of section 1997e(a), an inmate must exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit in federal court.... If exhaustion was not completed at the time of filing, dismissal is mandatory." 340 F.3d 624, 627 (8th Cir. 2003) ...