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Jones v. Huff

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

July 1, 2019

KEVIN D. JONES, ADC #112114 PLAINTIFF
v.
ROMONA HUFF, et al. DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedures for Filing Objections

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. Parties may file written objections to this Recommendation if they disagree with its findings or conclusions.

         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 Marshall can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, parties risk waiving the right to appeal questions of fact.

         II. Discussion

         A. Background

         On January 8, 2018, Plaintiff Kevin D. Jones, an Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) inmate, filed this civil rights lawsuit without the help of a lawyer. (Docket entry #2) In his original complaint, Mr. Jones alleged that Defendants Huff, Henry, and Bailey acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Because Mr. Jones did not adequately explain Defendant Paige's involvement in the violation of his rights, the Court gave him an opportunity to amend his complaint to explain those claims more fully. (#4)

         After Mr. Jones filed his amended complaint, the Court determined that he had stated deliberate-indifference claims against Defendants Huff, Henry, Bailey, and Paige, as well as a retaliation claim against Defendant Paige. (#6)

         All Defendants moved for summary judgment after being served, contending that Mr. Jones did not fully exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit. (#19, #22) The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants Bailey and Paige (ADC Defendants); granted partial summary judgment in favor of Huff and Henry (Medical Defendants); and denied Mr. Jones's motion for summary judgment. (#40) Mr. Jones's claims are now limited to those against the Medical Defendants set out in grievance TU-16-627.

         The Medical Defendants have again moved for summary judgment. They again contend that Mr. Jones failed to fully exhaust his administrative remedies as to grievance TU-16-627 before filing this lawsuit. They also argue that Mr. Jones's claims fail on the merits, as a matter of law. (#58) Mr. Jones has responded to the motion; the Medical Defendants have replied; and Mr. Jones has responded to the Medical Defendants' reply. (#64, #65, #66, #67, #68, #69)

         B. Exhaustion

         In support of their motion for summary judgment based on a failure to exhaust the grievance process, the Medical Defendants again attach the declaration of Shelly Byers, the ADC Medical Grievance Coordinator. (#60-5) According to Ms. Byers's declaration, Mr. Jones submitted grievance TU-17-627 on August 1, 2017. He received an acknowledgement of the unit level and was told that he would receive a response to the grievance by August 29, 2017. (#2 at p.27) It is undisputed that he did not receive a response by August 29.

         Regardless, under the ADC inmate grievance policy, he could have - and was required to-appeal within five days of August 29 to continue the exhaustion process. (#60-5 at p.1) Because he did not proceed to the next step within five days of August 29, Mr. Jones “did not properly complete the grievance process, ” according to Ms. Byers. (Id.)

         Ms. Byers also explains that Mr. Jones failed to appeal the unit-level grievance response to grievance TU-17-627 that he received on November 1, 2017. If he had done so, “the Deputy Director's office would have reviewed the medical records for the time period Mr. Jones complained of and Mr. Jones' current medical records for quality assurance.” (Id. at p.2)

         Even though Mr. Jones did not appeal the health service response to grievance TU-17-627, it is undisputed that Defendant Huff found the grievance to be “with merit.” (#2 at p.22) In that grievance, Mr. Jones complained of complications with his pacemaker and the need to be examined by a cardiologist. (#22-1 at p.9) According to the health services response to the unit-level grievance, Mr. Jones was “told that [he] had an appointment ...


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