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Lane v. Wade

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

April 5, 2019



         I. Procedure for Filing Objections

         This Recommended Disposition (Recommendation) has been sent to Judge James M. Moody Jr. Any party may file written objections to this Recommendation. If objections are filed, they should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection. To be considered, objections must be received in the office of the Court Clerk within 14 days of this Recommendation.

         If no objections are filed, Judge Moody can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, parties may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         II. Background

         Adam Lane, an Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) inmate, filed this civil lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, without the help of a lawyer. (Docket entry #2) In his complaints, Mr. Lane alleges that, on May 20, 2018, two inmates attacked him. (#2 at p.4, #5, #6) As a result of the attack, Mr. Lane's back and neck were injured. (#2 at p.4) In this lawsuit, he claims that Defendants Wade and Pierre failed to protect him from the attack; that Defendants Griffin and Straughn failed to take any corrective action; and that Defendants retaliated against him for filing grievances on this matter. (#2; #5; #6)

         Defendants have now moved for summary judgment on Mr. Lane's claims, arguing that he failed to fully exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this lawsuit. (#18) Mr. Lane has responded to the motion. (#22) The Defendants have replied to the response, and it is now ripe for review. (#23)

         III. Exhaustion

         The Court must dismiss any claim that was not fully exhausted before the date a complaint was filed. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (“No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions . . . by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted”); Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006) (explaining the proper exhaustion of remedies “means using all steps that the [prison] holds out, and doing so properly”). An inmate's confusion about the exhaustion requirements does not excuse the duty to exhaust all administrative remedies. Chelette v. Harris, 229 F.3d 684, 688 (8th Cir. 2000).

         IV. Discussion

         During all times relevant to this lawsuit, the ADC grievance policy was set out in Administrative Directive (AD) 14-16. (#18-1) Under AD 14-16, inmates must fully exhaust their administrative remedies against all individuals that they intend to name as defendants in a § 1983 lawsuit before they file suit. (Id. at 17-18) Here, the undisputed evidence shows that Mr. Lane fully exhausted one grievance (CU-18-00629) relevant to the issues in this lawsuit prior to filing his complaint.[1] (#2; #6; #18-3)

         In grievance CU-18-00629, Mr. Lane first complains about pain in his back and neck. (#2, p.6; #18-2) He explains that he was injured when two Nazis attacked him while he was in handcuffs in the shower and goes on to allege that Nazis have ADC officers on their payroll. Id. In addition, Mr. Lane asks about the status of his emergency grievances and requests that his grievances be consolidated. He also asks that officials conduct a thorough investigation. Id. Mr. Lane states he does not know the identity of the attackers but that Defendants Wade and Pierre and Corporals Hawthorne and Lewis (not named Defendants) do know. Id. Finally, Mr. Lane alleges that inmates from two punitive isolation cells were out of their cells at the same time, in violation of ADC policy, and states that this violation is an on-going problem. Id.

         The first official response to Mr. Lane's grievance from the problem solver indicated that disciplinary action had been taken against his attackers. (#2 at p.6) The warden explained that “your grievances are being processed in accordance with AD 14-16: Inmate Grievance Procedure. . . if you are having a medical issue you need to submit a sick call. Therefore, I find your complaint without merit.” (#2, p. 7)

         Mr. Lane appealed, explaining that he had filed a sick-call and had received medication for pain. In his appeal, he states: “[P]lease do not avoid the question why was two cells out at one time. I feel I am being retaliated against for utilizing grievance process, please do investigation.” (#2, p.7)

         The director responded to the appeal, concurring with the warden's decision and denying the appeal: “In reviewing your grievance, you addressed several issues, but only one was addressed. In your appeal, you stated that you had filed a sick-call and received medication for pain, which ...

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