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Williams v. Daniels

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

March 5, 2019

DR. DANIEL, Ouachita River Correctional Unit ORCU; DR. VOWELL, ORCU; JASON M. KELLEY, Director of Health and Correctional Programs, ORCU; NURSE CANNON, ORCU; and CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS DEFENDANTS


          Susan O. Hickey, Chief United States District Judge

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Correct Care Solutions, LLC; Dr. Nannette Vowell; Dr. Thomas Daniel; Jason Kelley; and Veronica Cannon (collectively, the “Moving Defendants”). (ECF No. 27). Plaintiff Tracy Bernard Williams filed a response. (ECF Nos. 35, 36). The Moving Defendants filed a reply. (ECF No. 39). The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction - Ouachita River Correctional Unit (“ADC”). He asserts three claims against the Moving Defendants, each alleging that one or more of them, in various ways, were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment. (ECF No. 7).

         At all times relevant to this case, the ADC maintained an Inmate Grievance Procedure providing inmates an internal administrative mechanism for the resolution of complaints. (ECF No. 28-1, p. 1). The purpose of the Inmate Grievance Procedure is to create “an internal administrative means for the resolution of complaints and the identification of potentially problematic management areas.” (ECF No. 28-1, p. 3).

         The grievance policy requires that the inmate include designated information on a Unit Level Grievance Form. (ECF No. 28-1, pp. 1-2). An inmate must “specifically name each individual involved for a proper investigation and response to be completed by the ADC.” (ECF No. 28-1, p. 4). The policy further states that “[i]nmates who fail to name all parties during the grievance process may have their lawsuit or claim dismissed by the court or commission for failure to exhaust against all parties.” (ECF No. 28-1, p. 5).

         Additionally, the inmate must include a statement that is “specific as to the substance of the issue or complaint to include the date, place, personnel involved or witnesses, and how the policy or incident affected the inmate submitting the form.” (ECF No. 28-1, pp. 5-6). The Unit Level Grievance Form must be submitted within fifteen days after the occurrence of the incident and it must include the date that the Unit Level Grievance is being completed. (ECF No. 28-1, pp. 5-6). Within five working days after receiving a Unit Level Grievance Decision, an inmate must lodge any appeal to the Deputy Director for Health and Correctional Programs. (ECF No. 28-1, p. 11). The grievance process is completed when the Deputy Director issues a written decision or rejection of an appeal. (ECF No. 28-1, pp. 11-12). If an inmate fails to lodge an appeal within the time to do so, the Deputy Director may choose to not process the appeal. (ECF No. 28-1, p. 11).

         In the three-year period before Plaintiff brought this action, he lodged nine formal medical grievances. Plaintiff did not appeal seven of the nine grievances to the Deputy Director as required to complete the grievance process. Those seven grievances are as follows: grievance numbers OR-15-00959, OR-15-01086, OR-15-01424, OR-15-01425, OR-16-00029, OR-17-00132, and OR-18-00587. (ECF Nos. 28-2, 28-3). Plaintiff appealed the remaining two grievances during the relevant period. Specifically, Plaintiff appealed grievance number OR-18-00467[1] to the Deputy Director, but the Deputy Director found that the grievance was untimely and declined to provide an appeal decision on the merits. (ECF Nos. 28-2, p. 19; 28-3, p. 2). Plaintiff also appealed grievance number OR-18-00663[2] to the Deputy Director. (ECF Nos. 28-2, p. 27; 28-3, p. 2). However, Plaintiff did not identify any of the Moving Defendants in grievance number OR-18-00663. (ECF Nos. 28-2, pp. 27-31; 28-3, p. 2).

         On November 21, 2018, the Moving Defendants filed the instant motion, contending that they are entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this suit. Plaintiff opposes the motion.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” Nat'l Bank of Comm. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. “They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.” Nat'l Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).


         The Moving Defendants contend they are entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff did not fully exhaust his administrative ...

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