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Williams v. Griffin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas

October 31, 2017

GERMAN WILLIAMS ADC #88941 PLAINTIFF
v.
RORY GRIFFIN, et al. DEFENDANTS

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

         INSTRUCTIONS

         The following proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to United States District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. You may file written objections to all or part of this recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection, and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         DISPOSITION

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff German Williams, an inmate at the Randall Williams Correctional Facility of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), filed a pro se complaint on September 14, 2016. Doc. No. 2. Defendants are ADC Deputy Director for Health and Correctional Programs Rory Griffin, ADC health care provider Correct Care Solutions (CCS), Health Services Administrator Wanda Suggs, and APN Lasonya Griswold. These defendants are sued only in their official capacities. Doc. No. 2 at 2.

         According to Williams, he suffered severe injuries to his back, knee, ankle, and foot at an ADC work site in November of 1994. Williams states that because the injuries were not properly treated, he filed a lawsuit which resulted in a $500.00 judgment against three individuals in 1998.[1]He asserts that the Court also ordered the ADC to provide him with his requested medical supplies. Williams' complaint alleges that the ADC abided by the ruling until 2015, when CCS was hired as the prison's health care provider. Now, he states, “the ADC and CCS claim they are no longer obligated to provide the medical supplies needed to reduce my pain. They have repeatedly denied my special authorization requests, despite my forwarding to them a copy of the 1998 decisions.” Doc. No. 2 at 4.

         Williams seeks declaratory relief, monetary damages, costs, and an order directing the ADC and CCS to “either provide permanent corrective surgery or provide me with the medical supplies needed to reduce my pain and discomfort.” Doc. No. 2 at 5. Williams' claim for damages against Griffin has been dismissed. See Doc. Nos. 24 & 32.

         Defendant Rory Griffin filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and a statement of facts claiming that Williams had not exhausted his claim against him before he filed this lawsuit. Doc. Nos. 25-27. Williams filed a response and an amended response. Doc. Nos. 34 & 40. Griffin filed a reply. Doc. No. 36. Defendants CCS, Suggs, and Griswold (the “Medical Defendants”) also filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and a statement of facts claiming that Williams had not exhausted his claims against them before he filed this lawsuit. Doc. Nos. 28-30. Williams filed a response. Doc. No. 33. The Medical Defendants filed a reply. Doc. No. 38. Williams also separately filed a two-page exhibit. Doc. No. 35.

         For the reasons described herein, the undersigned recommends defendants' motions for summary judgment be granted.

         II. Standard of Review

         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321 (1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923, 927 (8th Cir. 2002). The nonmoving party may not rely on allegations or denials, but must demonstrate the existence of specific facts that create a genuine issue for trial. Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 825 (8th Cir. 2007). The nonmoving party's allegations must be supported by sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy. Id. (citations omitted). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Othman v. City of Country Club Hills, 671 F.3d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 2012). Disputes that are not genuine or that are about facts that are not material will not preclude summary judgment. Sitzes v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 606 F.3d 461, 465 (8th Cir. 2010).

         III. Analysis

         The defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment because Williams failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to his claims against them before he filed his lawsuit. Griffin asserts that Williams did not exhaust his administrative remedies as to him because Williams did not file a grievance naming Griffin or complaining about his actions. In support, Griffin submitted the ADC's grievance policy and a declaration by Barbara Williams, the ADC's Inmate Grievance Supervisor. Doc. Nos. 26-1, 26-2. Barbara Williams declared that Williams filed only one grievance that could potentially relate to the issues raised in this case, RLW15-00377, which was attached to Williams' complaint. Doc. No. 2 at 16-19. The Medical Defendants acknowledge that Williams named them in the one grievance he filed but assert that because it was rejected as untimely, it was not decided on the merits and therefore not exhausted. The Medical Defendants also submitted a copy of the ADC's grievance policy and a declaration by Shelly Byers, the ADC's Medical Grievance Coordinator. Byers also found that Williams filed and appealed only one medical grievance, RLW15-00377, between January 1, 2013, and October 1, 2016.

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires an inmate to exhaust prison grievance procedures before filing suit in federal court. See 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a); Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 202 (2007); Jones v. Norris, 310 F.3d 610, 612 (8th Cir. 2002). Exhaustion under the PLRA is mandatory. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. at 211. The PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life whether they involve general circumstances or ...


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