United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
following Recommendation has 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.
Arlis Dale Greathouse filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and an application to proceed in forma
pauperis on November 7, 2018. Doc. Nos. 1 & 2.
Greathouse was granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and ordered to file an amended complaint
identifying claims relating to only one issue. See
Doc. No. 4. He filed an amended complaint on December 3,
2018, limiting his claims to those against Mental Health
Supervisor Donald Compton. (Doc. No. 6). The Court
recommended that all defendants except Compton be dismissed
from this case and that only Greathouse's Eighth
Amendment deliberate indifference claims be allowed to
proceed. Doc. No. 8. The Court further recommended that
Greathouse's due process claims based on Compton's
alleged violation of prison procedure be dismissed because
prisoners do not have a federally protected due process right
to require prison officials to comply with internal rules or
procedures. Id. (citing Phillips v. Norris,
320 F.3d 844, 847 (8th Cir. 2003); Gardner v.
Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 430 (8th Cir. 1997)). The
Court's recommendation was subsequently adopted.
See Doc. No. 9. Accordingly, the only remaining
defendant is Compton.
the Court is a motion for summary judgment, a brief in
support, and a statement of facts filed by Compton, claiming
that Greathouse did not fully exhaust his available
administrative remedies before he filed this lawsuit (Doc.
Nos. 29-31). Greathouse filed a response to the
defendant's motion, a statement of disputed facts, and a
declaration (Doc. Nos. 33-35). For the reasons described
herein, the undersigned recommends that Compton's motion
for summary judgment be granted.
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is proper if “the movant shows that there is
no genuine dispute 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(a); 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). An assertion that a fact cannot be
disputed or is genuinely disputed must be supported by
materials in the record such as “depositions,
documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes
of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials . . .”. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A
party may also show that a fact is disputed or undisputed by
“showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the
fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). 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).
argues that he is entitled to summary judgment because
Greathouse failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as
to his claims against Compton before he filed this lawsuit.
See Doc. No. 29. In support of his motion, Compton
submitted the ADC's grievance policy (Doc. No. 31-1); the
declaration of Shelly Byers, the custodian of the ADC's
medical grievance records (Doc. No. 31-2); and a copy of
grievance VSM18-01683 (Doc. No. 31-3).
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
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); Burns
v. Eaton, 752 F.3d 1136, 1141 (8th Cir. 2014).
Exhaustion under the PLRA is mandatory. Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. at 211; Hammett v. Cofield, 681
F.3d 945, 949 (8th Cir. 2012). “[T]he 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 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 will depend on the
specifics of that particular prison's grievance policy.
to the ADC's grievance policy, inmates are provided Unit
Level Grievance Forms as part of the Inmate Grievance
Procedure. See Doc. No. 31-1 at 4. To resolve a
problem, an inmate must first seek informal resolution by
submitting a Step One Unit Level Grievance Form within 15
days after the occurrence of the incident. Id. at 5.
Inmates are to “specifically name each individual
involved for a proper investigation and response to be
completed by the ADC.” Id. at 6. An inmate
must be “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.” Id. at 5-6. A problem
solver investigates the complaint and provides a written
response at the bottom of the form. Id. at 6-7. If
the inmate is not satisfied with the resolution or the
problem solver does not respond within three working days, he
may then complete Step Two of the grievance procedure and
submit the form as a formal grievance. Id. at 8. If
a formal grievance is medical in nature, it is forwarded to
the appropriate medical personnel for response. Id.
at 9. If the inmate receives no response, or if the inmate is
not satisfied with the response, the inmate can appeal to the
Deputy Director. Id. at 10-12. Once the Deputy
Director responds or the appeal is rejected, the grievance
process is exhausted. Id. at 12. According to the
ADC's grievance policy, the entire grievance procedure
should be completed within 76 working days absent an
extension or unforeseen circumstances. Id. at 13.
The grievance policy specifically states that inmates must
exhaust administrative remedies at all levels of the
procedure before filing a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Id. at 17.
grievance policy requires inmates to name each individual
involved. See Doc. No. 31-1 at 5-6. The United
States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has determined
that failure to name specific defendants can be a procedural
deficiency, and prison officials' acceptance and
resolution of a procedurally deficient grievance serves to
establish proper exhaustion. See Hammett v. Cofield,
681 F.3d 945, 947 (8th Cir. 2012) (PLRA's exhaustion
requirements are satisfied if grievance is considered on the
merits, even if it could have been denied for procedural
deficiencies). See also Bower v. Kelley, 494
Fed.Appx. 718 (8th Cir. 2012) (unpublished per curiam). The
failure to name a defendant as required by the ADC grievance
policy may constitute a procedural defect that is waived if
the defendant's conduct forming the basis of the claim
against him or her is adequately described in the grievance
and the failure to name the defendant does not prevent the
ADC from investigating the grievance on the merits. See
Daniels v. Hubbard, No. 5:14CV00360 BSM, 2015 WL
9222627, at *1-2 (E.D. Ark. Dec. 17, 2015). This is a
fact-intensive analysis. For example, in Burns v.
Eaton, the Court affirmed the dismissal of a claim
against a defendant who was not named in the grievance and
whose conduct was not addressed in the grievance. 752 F.3d
1136 (8th Cir. 2014). However, the relevant grievance
specifically named another individual, and was therefore
proper under ADC policy. Id. at 1141-1142. Prison
officials were able to investigate the conduct of the named
individual, and had no reason to question whether other
individuals or claims should have been investigated.
Id. In other cases, a plaintiff's failure to
name a ...