United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
PATRICK MARTIN, REG. #41528-424 PLAINTIFF
JAMES PRUETT, et al. DEFENDANTS
Kristine G. Baker, United States District Judge.
Court has received Proposed Findings and Recommendations
submitted by United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney
(Dkt. No. 43). Plaintiff Patrick Martin filed objections to
the Proposed Findings and Recommendations (Dkt. No. 45).
After careful review of the Proposed Findings and
Recommendations and Mr. Martin's objections, as well as a
de novo review of the record, the Court adopts the
Proposed Findings and Recommendations as its findings in all
respects (Dkt. No. 43). Accordingly, the Court grants
defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismisses
without prejudice Mr. Martin's claims against defendants
for failure to exhaust administrative remedies (Dkt. No. 22).
The Court denies as moot defendants' motion to stay
discovery (Dkt. No. 46). The Court also denies as moot Mr.
Martin's motion for extension of time to respond to
defendants' motion to stay discovery and motion for
extension of time to allow defendants to answer interrogatory
questions (Dkt. Nos. 47, 49).
Kearney recommends dismissal without prejudice of Mr.
Martin's claims against Senior Officer Specialist James
Pruett and Lieutenant D. Medina (“defendants”) in
their official capacities based on sovereign immunity and,
therefore, a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Dkt. No.
43, at 3-4). Mr. Martin does not contest this recommendation
in his objection. This Court agrees with Judge Kearney's
recommendation that the claims against defendants in their
official capacities should be dismissed based on sovereign
Court writes separately to address Mr. Martin's
objections. Judge Kearney recommends dismissal without
prejudice of Mr. Martin's claims against defendants in
their individual capacities because there is no genuine issue
of material fact in dispute as to whether Mr. Martin failed
to exhaust fully his administrative remedies with respect to
the allegations asserted against defendants (Dkt. No. 43, at
6). In his objection, Mr. Martin argues “that the
[Bureau of Prisons (‘BOP')] knew of [his]
allegations is undeniable.” (Dkt. No. 45, at 4). He
avers that “the administrative remedy procedure is a
dead end here, . . . that [he] was thwarted from using it by
staff, . . . [and he] went outside the BOP to ensure [his]
complaint was filed.” (Id., at 5). However,
Mr. Martin also admits that “the only reason for [him]
not to file a specific incident report is because [he] was
told not to when [he] tried.” (Id.)
Court agrees with Judge Kearney that summary judgment as a
matter of law is appropriate on Mr. Martin's claims, as
no reasonable juror could conclude on the record evidence
before the Court that Mr. Martin filed and fully exhausted a
grievance under the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, or that the
grievance process was rendered unavailable to him with
respect to the allegations in his complaint. The PLRA
requires an inmate to exhaust available 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); Jones v. Norris, 310 F.3d 610, 612
(8th Cir. 2002) (per curiam). “[T]o properly exhaust
administrative remedies prisoners must ‘complete the
administrative review process in accordance with the
applicable procedural rules,' rules that are defined not
by the PLRA, but by the prison grievance process
itself.” Bock, 549, at 218 (quoting
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88 (2006)). Compliance
with a prison's grievance procedures is, therefore, all
that is required by the PLRA to properly exhaust.
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 Declaration of Bridgett Bass, Associate Warden's
Secretary at FCI, Forrest City, the three-step federal
administrative remedy process is instituted by filing an
informal resolution with staff and then a formal resolution
to the Warden through a BP-9 form at the Unit Level (Doc. No.
27). Two appeals from that level are provided, to the
Regional Director through a BP-10 form and then to the
General Counsel for the BOP through a BP-11 form
(Id.). The undisputed record evidence is that Mr.
Martin filed 35 administrative remedy requests during his
incarceration and has exhausted five of those requests or
appeals (Doc. No. 27). In some of the requests, Mr. Martin
references an alleged incident in September 2017 (Dkt. No.
45, at 4). However, none of the exhausted administrative
remedy requests complain directly of an alleged incident in
September 2017 (Id.). Even in his response to
defendants' statement of facts, Mr. Martin identifies as
disputed facts whether the grievance procedure “was
made unavailable through obstruction by prison staff, ”
whether Mr. Martin “was threatened or warned of
retaliatory action from prison staff when he attempted to
file a grievance, ” whether Mr. Martin “did file
a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) report about the
defendant's actions, ” whether Mr. Martin
“notified other Bureau of Prisons (BOP) supervisors and
other federal agencies of the alleged sexual assault and the
action of local BOP staff to deny him remedy, ” and
whether the BOP informed Mr. Martin “that his claims
were being investigated in these matters. . . .” (Dkt.
No. 34, at 1). In other words, in response to defendants'
motion for summary judgment, Mr. Martin does not identify as
a disputed fact whether he fully exhausted the grievance
procedure with respect to the allegations in his current
record evidence before the Court does not support a
conclusion that Mr. Martin exhausted his administrative
remedies regarding the allegations asserted against
defendants, the Court turns to the question of whether an
administrative remedy was unavailable to Mr. Martin, which is
essentially what he claims in his response to defendants'
statement of facts. In Ross v. Blake, the United
State Supreme Court held that there are three types of
incidents that could render an administrative remedy
unavailable to an inmate: where the procedure operates as a
dead end, with officers unable or unwilling to provide any
relief; where the administrative scheme is so opaque that no
ordinary prisoner can discern or navigate it; or when prison
administrators thwart inmates from taking advantage of a
grievance procedure. 229 F.2d 684, 1589-1860 (2016). While
the Court recognizes that Mr. Martin did reference a
complaint of an alleged incident in September 2017 in other
documents in record evidence before the Court, the Court
agrees with Judge Kearney that, in this case, there is no
record evidence that such a complaint was actually made and
fully exhausted by Mr. Martin as a part of the grievance
process outlined by defendants. Further, given the record
evidence before the Court and controlling legal authorities,
the Court concludes that, even construing all record evidence
in favor of Mr. Martin, there is insufficient record evidence
that the grievance process was rendered unavailable to Mr.
Martin with respect to this alleged incident.
viewing the record evidence in the light most favorable to
Mr. Martin, the Court concludes that no reasonable juror
could conclude that Mr. Martin exhausted his administrative
remedies regarding the alleged incident or that Mr. Martin
was prevented from filing a grievance regarding the alleged
incident in September 2017. As a result, the Court concludes
that summary judgment as a matter of law in defendants'
favor is appropriate.
therefore ordered that.
Court adopts the Proposed Findings and Recommendations in
their entirety as the Court's findings in all respects
(Dkt. No. 43).
Court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment and
dismisses without prejudice Mr. Martin's claims against
defendants for failure to exhaust administrative remedies
(Dkt. No. 22).
Court denies as moot defendants' motion to stay discovery
(Dkt. No. 46).
Court denies as moot Mr. Martin's motion for extension of
time to respond to defendants' motion to stay discovery
and motion for extension of time to allow defendants ...