United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Little Rock Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
following proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent
to United States District 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.
David Eugene Oppie filed a pro se complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while incarcerated at the Faulkner
County Detention Center. Doc. No. 2. Oppie alleged that he was
exposed to black mold during his incarceration and denied
access to the courts. See Doc. No. 2. Oppie was
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
ordered to file an amended complaint explaining why he
believed he was exposed to black mold, how long he was
exposed to black mold, whether the defendants were aware of
his exposure to black mold, and whether he was injured as a
result of this alleged exposure. Doc. No. 4. Additionally,
Oppie was ordered to provide a factual basis for his claim
that certain defendants denied him access to the courts.
Id. Oppie subsequently filed an amended complaint
addressing his exposure to black mold. Doc. No. 5. Oppie did
not, however, provide a factual basis for his claim that
certain defendants denied him access to the courts.
filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and
a statement of facts claiming that Oppie had not exhausted
claims his against them before he filed this lawsuit Doc.
Nos. 25-27. Oppie filed a response to the Defendants'
motion and statement of facts. Doc. No. 29. 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.
Rule 56 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 or declarations, 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; 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).
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 particular episodes, and whether they allege
excessive force or some other wrong. Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). The PLRA does not,
however, prescribe the manner in which exhaustion occurs.
See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. at 218. It merely
requires compliance with prison grievance procedures to
properly exhaust. See Id. Thus, the question as to
whether an inmate has properly exhausted administrative
remedies depends on the grievance policy of the particular
prison where the alleged events occurred. See id.
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because
Oppie failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before he
filed this lawsuit. See Doc. No. 26. In support of
their motion for summary judgment, Defendants submitted an
affidavit by Jail Administrator Chris Riedmueller; grievances
filed by Oppie in 2017; and a copy of the Faulkner County
Detention Center's grievance policy. Doc. No. 27-1.
did not file a grievance regarding his claim that he was
exposed to black mold during his incarceration. Id.
at 1. The Faulkner County Detention Center had a grievance
process in place in 2017 for inmates to raise concerns about
alleged constitutional violations, including, but not limited
to, those concerning the conditions of confinement.
Id. at 1 & 12-13. The Defendants submitted a
record of Oppie's grievances filed while he was
incarcerated there. Id. at 2-11. Oppie's
grievance record shows that Oppie filed numerous grievances
before he filed this lawsuit on September 26, 2017, but none
grieved the issue of black mold. Id.
contends that detention center staff ignored his complaints
regarding the black mold. Doc. No. 29 at 1. Oppie alleges he
told staff about the black mold, and they told him they would
speak to “someone higher up.” Id. Oppie
claims he filed a grievance regarding black mold through the
electronic grievance procedure but received no response.
Id. at 1-2. Oppie claims he then made verbal
requests about the mold for two months before filing suit.
Id. at 2.
Defendants correctly assert that they are entitled to summary
judgment because Oppie failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies before he filed this lawsuit. The Faulkner County
Detention Center's grievance procedure provides that
grievances must be made in writing. Accordingly, Oppie's
verbal complaints could not serve to exhaust his
administrative remedies. Further, Oppie's prior use of
the grievance process demonstrates that Oppie was familiar
with the Faulkner County Detention Center's grievance
process when he filed this lawsuit in 2017. Although Oppie
claims he submitted a ...