United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
L. RUSSELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the Report and Recommendation of U.S. Magistrate
Judge Shon T. Erwin, Doc. 122, recommending that the Court
grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. 120,
due to Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative
remedies. Plaintiff, a prisoner formerly housed at the James
Crabtree Correctional Center (“JCCC”), filed an
objection to the Report, Doc. 123, which warrants de novo
review. Plaintiff maintains an Eighth Amendment claim against
four Defendants in their individual capacity: Chief Medical
Officer Dr. Jeffrey Troutt, Correctional Health Services
Administrator (“CHSA”) Tami Grogan, Warden Janet
Dowling, and Medical Services Administrator Genese McCoy.
Plaintiff alleges that they were deliberately indifferent to
his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
See Complaint, Doc. 1. Construing Plaintiff's
pro se pleadings liberally, Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d
1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007), the Court hereby grants
Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion for the following
judgment is appropriate “if the movant 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). “An issue is ‘genuine' if
there is sufficient evidence on each side so that a rational
trier of fact could resolve the issue either way. . . . An
issue of fact is ‘material' if under the
substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of
the claim.” Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The
Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, Macon v.
United Parcel Serv., Inc., 743 F.3d 708, 712-713 (10th
Cir. 2014). The moving party bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the basis for its motion and of identifying
those portions of “the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, ” that demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
satisfied, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to
demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of material
fact. Whitesel v. Sengenberger, 222 F.3d 861, 867
(10th Cir. 2000). The nonmoving party “may not rest
upon mere allegations” in his pleading to satisfy this
requirement. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256 (1986).
Rather, Rule 56 “requires the nonmoving party to go
beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the
‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, ' designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (1986).
brings an Eighth Amendment claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, which protects against violations of “right[s]
secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States . .
. committed . . . under color of state law.” West
v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “In its
prohibition of ‘cruel and unusual punishments, '
the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials,
who . . . must provide humane conditions of confinement;
[they] must . . . ‘take reasonable measures to
guarantee the safety of the inmates.'” Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quoting Hudson
v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-527 (1984)). In the medical
care context, the Eighth Amendment requires that Plaintiff
show Defendants' “deliberate indifference to [his]
serious medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 104 (1976). He must satisfy three elements: (1)
objective seriousness, (2) a culpable state of mind, and (3)
an “affirmative link” between a prison
official's conduct and the constitutional violation.
Schneider v. City of Grand Junction Police
Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 767 (10th Cir. 2013).
Plaintiff's medical need must be “sufficiently
serious”-“one that has been diagnosed by a
physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention.” Farmer, 511
U.S. at 834 (1994) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501
U.S. 294, 298, (1991)); Hunt v. Uphoff, 199 F.3d
1220, 1224 (10th Cir. 1999) (quoting Ramos v. Lamm,
639 F.2d 559, 575 (10th Cir. 1980) (quotation omitted)).
second requirement is subjective and requires an
official's “‘deliberate indifference' to
inmate health or safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834 (quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 302-03). This
standard is equivalent to recklessness, or knowing disregard
of a risk. Id. at 836-37. “[T]he official must
both be aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he
must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837.
Plaintiff must allege an “affirmative link”
between the official's conduct and the constitutional
violation, consisting of “personal involvement”
and “causation.” Schneider, 717 F.3d at
767. This requirement applies to supervisory defendants as
well because even though “direct participation”
is unnecessary, liability must “be predicated on a
violation traceable to a defendant-official's ‘own
individual actions.'” Pahls v. Thomas, 718
F.3d 1210, 1225 (10th Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 676). Section 1983 “does not authorize
liability under a theory of respondeat superior.”
Brown v. Montoya, 662 F.3d 1152, 1164 (10th Cir.
2011). The “affirmative link between the supervisor and
the constitutional violation” requires “more than
‘a supervisor's mere knowledge of his
subordinate's' conduct.” Schneider,
717 F.3d at 767 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677).
before Plaintiff can pursue Section 1983 relief in federal
court, the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995
(“PLRA”) “requires timely and complete
exhaustion of [available] administrative remedies . . .
.” Brewer v. Mullin, 130 F. App'x 264,
265-66 (10th Cir. 2005) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a);
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001);
Jernigan v. Stuchell, 304 F.3d 1030, 1032 (10th Cir.
2002)). To do so, Plaintiff “had to comply ‘with
[the Department of Corrections'] deadlines and other
critical procedural rules.'” Craft v.
Null, 543 F. App'x 778, 779-80 (10th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006)).
Substantial compliance is insufficient-Plaintiff “had
to properly complete the grievance process and cure any
deficiencies.” Id. (citing Jernigan,
304 F.3d at 1032). And even if Plaintiff completed the
grievance process, the grievance must “provide enough
information regarding the nature of the alleged wrong to
enable prison officials to investigate and address his
complaint.” Pfeil v. Lampert, 603 F. App'x
665, 671 (10th Cir. 2015).
Defendants . . . bear the burden of asserting and proving
that the plaintiff did not utilize administrative remedies. .
. . Once a defendant proves that a plaintiff failed to
exhaust, however, the onus falls on the plaintiff to show
that remedies were unavailable to him.
Tuckel v. Grover, 660 F.3d 1249, 1254 (10th Cir.
2011) (citing Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 212
to the ODOC's grievance process, Plaintiff must
informally consult with the relevant staff and then follow
three written steps before satisfying complete exhaustion:
(1) designate a “Request to Staff” to “the
appropriate staff member, detailing the issue/incident
completely but briefly”; (2) if the issue remains
unresolved, submit an “Offender Grievance Form”
with the prior Request to Staff to the facility reviewing
authority or, for medical grievances, the CHSA; (3) finally,
appeal to the Administrative Review Authority
(“ARA”). Special Report, Offender Grievance
Process, Doc. 44-3, at 7- 14. “If alleged to be of an
emergency or sensitive nature, the grievance will be screened
to determine if it should be handled” as such.”
Id. at 11-12. “A complaint of an emergency
nature is one in which the complaint alleges irreparable harm
or personal injury will occur and which the grievance process
will be unable to address in a timely preventive
manner.” Id. at 16. The reviewing authority
will only grant expedited response if it deems the grievance
satisfies this definition. Id. at 16-17.
Court must compare Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim to
his past grievances in order to assess whether his grievances
“provide[d] enough information regarding the nature of
the alleged wrong to enable prison officials to investigate
and address his complaint.” Pfeil, 603 F.
App'x at 671; see also Woodford, 548 U.S. at 90.