United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
BETH DEERE, Magistrate Judge.
I. Procedures for Filing Objections:
This Recommended Disposition ("Recommendation") has been sent to United States District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. Any party may file written objections to this Recommendation.
Objections must be specific and must include the factual or legal basis for the objection. An objection to a factual finding must identify the finding of fact believed to be wrong and describe the evidence that supports that belief.
Your objections must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Marshall can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.
Plaintiff Willie Murry Muhummad, an Arkansas Department of Correction ("ADC") inmate, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket entry #2) In his amended complaint (#8), Mr. Muhummad alleges that all Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, and that Defendants Evans and Meinzer retaliated against him for filing a claim with the Arkansas Claims Commission.
Defendants have now moved for summary judgment on all of Mr. Muhummad's claims. (#68, #71, #74) Mr. Muhummad has responded to the motions. (#78, #80, #82, #85) Defendants Culelager, Evans, Hoskins, and Meinzer ("ADC Defendants") have replied to Mr. Muhummad's response. (#84)
For reasons explained below, the Court recommends the Defendants' motions for summary judgment (#68, #71, #74) be GRANTED. Mr. Muhummad's claims against Defendants Freeman and Olson should be DISMISSED, without prejudice, based on Mr. Muhummad's failure to fully exhaust his administrative remedies. Claims against the ADC Defendants should be DISMISSED, with prejudice.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is granted to a party when the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, presents no genuine dispute as to any material fact. FED.R.CIV.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 246, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986). A moving party must first present evidence showing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets that burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with evidence showing that there is a genuine dispute that must be decided at a trial. Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). If the nonmoving party does not submit proof establishing a necessary element of a claim, the moving party is entitled to judgment on that claim. Celotex Corp., 447 U.S. at 322-23.
Defendants Freeman and Olson contend that Mr. Muhummad failed to fully exhaust grievances against them. The Court must address this issue prior to addressing the merits of Mr. Muhummad's deliberate-indifference claim against these Defendants. See Davis v. Harmon, Case No. 10-1863, 2010 WL 3259378, (8th Cir. Aug. 19, 2010) (unpublished opinion) (holding that the trial court erred when it dismissed the case, with prejudice, on the merits without first considering the exhaustion issue, and dismissing without prejudice).
It is settled law that prisoners must exhaust all "available" remedies before filing suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 738, 121 S.Ct. 1819 (2001) (holding that available remedies "must be exhausted before a complaint under § 1983 may be entertained"). For purposes of § 1983, an "available remedy" is one that is "capable of use for the accomplishment of a purpose; immediately utilizable [and] accessible." Miller v. Norris, 247 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001). If a claim is not fully ...