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Cowart v. Futrell

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division

June 20, 2018



         The following proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to United States District Judge James M. Moody 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.


         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff William Shane Cowart filed a pro se complaint on August 22, 2017, while incarcerated at the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institute (Doc. No. 2). Cowart sued three federal correctional officers at the Forrest City Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City, Arkansas, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Department of Justice. Cowart seeks $250, 000 in damages and claims he suffered cruel and unusual punishment and denial of medical care. Although his complaint was filed on a § 1983 civil rights form, the Court treats the complaint as one brought pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) (“Bivens”). A Bivens claim is a cause of action brought directly under the United States Constitution against a federal official acting in his or her individual capacity for violations of constitutionally protected rights. Cowart's official capacity claims and his claims against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice were previously dismissed. See Doc. Nos. 7 & 9.

         Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and a statement of facts, claiming that Cowart had not exhausted his claims against them before he filed this lawsuit (Doc. Nos. 17-19). In support of their motion for summary judgment, defendants submitted the declaration of James D. Crook (Doc. No. 19-1). Cowart filed a response to the defendants' motion and a statement of facts (Doc. Nos. 31-32), but did not dispute the facts asserted by defendants. Rather, Cowart argued the merits of his case and did not address the issue of whether he had exhausted his administrative remedies. Because Cowart failed to controvert the facts set forth in defendants' statement of undisputed facts, Doc. No. 19, those facts are deemed admitted. See Local Rule 56.1(c). The defendants' statement of facts, and the other pleadings and exhibits in the record, establish that the material facts are not in dispute and that defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute 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(a); 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). An assertion that a fact cannot be disputed or is genuinely disputed must be supported by materials in the record such as “depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials . . .”. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party may also show that a fact is disputed or undisputed by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). 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. Undisputed Facts

         1. Plaintiff, William Shane Cowart, Register Number 10438-003, is a 37-year-old federal inmate. See Doc. No. 19-1 at ¶ 7; Doc. No. 2.

         2. Cowart is serving a sentence for a violation of a condition of his supervised release. Doc. No. 19-1 at ¶ 7. His expected release date with good conduct time is May 1, 2021. Id.

         3. Since July 1, 1990, all administrative remedy requests from each institution, Regional Office, and Office of General Counsel of the Bureau of Prisons have been recorded and maintained in the SENTRY computer system. Doc. No. 19-1 at ¶ 5. Any inmate submission, whether accepted or rejected at any level, is permanently recorded. Id.

         4. Administrative remedy requests, upon entry into the SENTRY system, are given a remedy ID number generated by the SENTRY system. Id. at ¶ 6. The administrative remedy request retains the same remedy number if rejected and later resubmitted and while it is on appeal to the Regional Director and to the Office of General Counsel. Id. The remedy number will be assigned different suffixes based on its status. Id.

         5. As of December 6, 2017, Cowart had filed five administrative remedy requests since his incarceration with the Bureau of Prisons. Id. at ¶ 8.

         6. SENTRY records show that Cowart has not filed an administrative remedy request since ...

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