United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
following Recommended Disposition
(“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States
District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. 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 the date of this Recommendation. If you do not file
objections, Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation
without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the
record. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal
questions of fact.
Cedric Jackson (“Jackson”) filed this pro
se § 1983 action alleging that, while he was a
pretrial detainee at the Faulkner County Detention Center
(“FCDC”), Defendants Sheriff Tim Ryals, Dr. Garry
Stewart, Major John Randall, and Lieutenant Gary Andrews
violated his constitutional rights by: (1) subjecting him to
overcrowded conditions; and (2) denying him mental health
care. Docs. 9 & 12.
have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Brief in Support,
and a Statement of Facts, arguing that all of Jackson's
claims should be dismissed because he failed to exhaust the
administrative remedies available to him at the FCDC.
Docs. 32, 33 & 34. Although notified of his
right to file a Response, Jackson did not respond, and the
time for doing so has passed. Doc. 35. Thus, the
issues are joined and ready for disposition.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires
prisoners to exhaust their administrative remedies
before filing a § 1983 action: “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). The purposes
of the exhaustion requirement include “allowing a
prison to address complaints about the program it administers
before being subjected to suit, reducing litigation to the
extent complaints are satisfactorily resolved, and improving
litigation that does occur by leading to the preparation of a
useful record.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199,
219 (2007); see also Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81,
PLRA also requires prisoners to: (1) fully and
properly exhaust their available administrative remedies
as to each claim in the complaint; and (2) complete
the exhaustion process before filing an action in
federal court. Jones, 549 U.S. at 211, 219-20,
223-24; Woodford, , 548 U.S. at 93-95; Burns v.
Eaton, 752 F.3d 1136, 1141-42 (8th Cir. 2014);
Johnson v. Jones, 340 F.3d 624, 626-28 (8th Cir.
2003). Importantly, “it is the prison's
requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of
proper exhaustion.” Jones, 549 U.S. at 218;
see also Woodford, 548 U.S. at 90 (explaining that
administrative exhaustion “means using all steps that
the agency holds out, and doing so properly so that the
agency addresses the issues on the merits”). Thus, to
satisfy the PLRA, a prisoner must comply with the exhaustion
requirements of the incarcerating facility before he can
properly file a § 1983 action.
did not respond to Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment or otherwise contest any of the facts set forth in
Defendants' Statement of Facts (Doc. 34).
Accordingly, all of those facts, which form the basis for
Defendants' Motion for Summary of Judgment, are now
deemed to be admitted. See Local Rule 56.1(c);
Reasonover v. St. Louis County, Mo., 447 F.3d 569,
579 (8th Cir. 2006) (holding that grant of summary judgment
motion was proper where non-moving party had not filed
response to motion, district court had under local rules
deemed as admitted facts set forth in summary judgment
motion, and summary judgment was appropriate based on
uncontroverted facts set forth in motion).
FCDC's grievance policy allows detainees to submit
written grievances about “a complaint, request or
problem.” Doc. 34, Ex. A2 (FCDC Section 009,
Grievance Procedure). The policy requires two steps for
exhaustion: (1) submission of a written grievance to
“any detention officer”; and (2) an appeal
“to the next level in the chain of command.”
Id. This policy was in effect at the time of
Jackson's confinement, and he utilized it by filing at
least thirty-three grievances between August 2017 and July
2018. Id., Ex. A (Randall Affidavit ¶¶
3-4) & Ex. A1 (Jackson's grievances).
Substituted Complaint, which he signed under penalty of
perjury, Jackson admits that he failed to file a
grievance over the overcrowding and lack of mental health
care at the FCDC. Doc. 9 at 3-4; see Roberson v. Hayti
Police Dept., 241 F.3d 992, 994-95 (8th Cir. 2001)
(complaint signed under penalty of perjury is equivalent of a
verified complaint, and a plaintiff may rely on the facts
stated therein just as if they had been stated in an
Affidavit); see also Doc. 34, Ex. A (Randall
Affidavit ¶ 2).
Ross v. Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1857 (2016), the
Court clarified that the PLRA's exhaustion requirement
contains no “judge-made” exceptions, such as good
cause. Instead, a prisoner must properly exhaust all
“available” remedies, which the Court narrowly
defined as all remedies that are “capable of
use.” Id. at 1858. Clearly, the FCDC
grievance procedure was “available” to Jackson
for his current claims, as evidenced by his ability to file
numerous unrelated grievances during his FCDC
incarceration, all of which were addressed by FCDC personnel.
Doc. 34, Ex. A1; see Trevino v. Woodbury County
Jail, 623 Fed.Appx. 824, 825 (8th Cir. 2015) (record
belied prisoner's assertion that jail officials prevented
him from using its grievance procedures, where he filed
eleven written complaints while there and presented no
evidence that any official thwarted his efforts to file
more); Hammett v. Cofield, 681 F.3d 945, 948-49 (8th
Cir. 2012) (prisoner's previous use of grievance
procedures demonstrated that he understood the process and
that prison officials were responding to his “many
grievances and grievance appeals”).
pleadings, Jackson does not allege that administrative
remedies were not “available” to him at the FCDC.
Rather, he claims, without further explanation, that the FCDC
grievance procedure was not “adequate.” Doc.
9 at 3-4. In Ross, the Court emphasized that
administrative remedies are “unavailable” only
under three limited circumstances which “will not often
arise”: (1) when the process cannot be completed
because it is a “dead end, ” with prison
officials “unable or consistently unwilling” to
provide any relief; (2) when the administrative scheme is
“so opaque that it becomes, practically speaking,
incapable of use”; and (3) when prison officials thwart
the inmate through “machination, misrepresentation, or
intimidation.” Id. at 1859-60.
light of Jackson's extensive grievance history while
incarcerated in the FCDC, his conclusory allegation that the
FCDC procedure was not “adequate” does
not come close to satisfying any of the narrow
exceptions recognized by the Court in Ross.
Furthermore, the Eighth Circuit has repeatedly held that a
prisoner's subjective beliefs about exhaustion are
irrelevant in determining whether administrative remedies
were “available” to him. Porter v.
Sturm,781 F.3d 448, 451 (8th Cir. 2015) (“It does
not matter that the inmate ‘subjectively believed that
there was no point in pursuing administrative