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Sumrall v. Davis

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

March 29, 2018

DERRICK SUMRALL PLAINTIFF
v.
MARCUS DAVIS, et al. DEFENDANTS[1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SHARION AYCOCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Now before the Court is the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [43] for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The Magistrate Judge appointed counsel to the Plaintiff, and through counsel, the Plaintiff responded.

         Factual and Procedural History

         Derrick Sumrall was an inmate in the Mississippi Department of Corrections when he filed both of these cases in the District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on December 18, 2015. The cases were later transferred to this District and consolidated into this lead case. See Orders [11, 27]. In his Complaint [1], Sumrall alleges several claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, namely that he endured physical attacks and beatings at the hands of the Defendants, mostly Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) employees, and that the Defendants failed to protect him from physical violence from other inmates. Sumrall also alleges that MDOC staff failed to provide him with adequate medical care and conspired to retaliate against him for filing grievances by issuing false Rule Violation Reports (RVR) to him.

         The Defendants seek summary judgment on all claims, contending that Sumrall failed to fully exhaust the remedies available to him under MDOC's Administrative Remedy Program (ARP). Sumrall counters that he did exhaust.

         Preliminary Issue: Parties

         The Magistrate Judge assigned to this case held a preliminary hearing on several issues. At the hearing, Sumrall agreed that he had no factual basis for a claim against named Defendants Marshall Fisher, Jerry Williams, Marylen Sturdivant, Connie Durr, Kenishia Cox, Raynette Wells, and Sabrina Jackson. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation [24] recommending that these Defendants be dismissed. No. objections were filed, and the time for doing so has expired. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

         In light of the results of the hearing, and the fact that no objections were raised, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation as the opinion, findings of fact, and conclusions of law of this Court. Accordingly, Marshall Fisher, Jerry Williams, Marylen Sturdivant, Connie Durr, Kenishia Cox, Raynette Wells, and Sabrina Jackson are dismissed from these consolidated actions. Sumrall's claims against the remaining Defendants will proceed below to summary judgment review.

         Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 56(a) when evidence reveals no genuine dispute regarding any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The rule “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

         The party moving for summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.' ” Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548. In reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor of the nonmovant, “but only when . . . both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc) (per curiam). When such contradictory facts exist, the court may “not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prod., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000). “The court shall grant summary judgment 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).

         Analysis and Discussion

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) provides that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 . . . by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). “[F]ailure to exhaust is an affirmative defense under the PLRA.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216, 127 S.Ct. 910, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007). Thus, Defendants “must establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements of the defense of exhaustion to warrant summary judgment in their favor.” Dillon v. Rogers, 596 F.3d 260, 266 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing Martin v. Alamo Cmty. Coll. Dist., 353 F.3d 409, 412 (5th Cir. 2003)). It is therefore the Defendants' burden to establish what the available procedures were that the inmate did not exhaust. Id.; see also Cantwell v. Sterling, 788 F.3d 507, 509 (5th Cir. 2015).

         In 2016, the Supreme Court outlined the parameters of “availability” in this context. See Ross v. Blake, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1859, 195 L.Ed.2d 117 (2016). Ross sets out “three kinds of circumstances in which an administrative remedy, although officially on the books, is not capable of use to obtain relief and unavailable: (1) “when (despite what regulations or guidance materials may promise) it operates as a simple dead end-with officers unable or consistently unwilling to provide any relief to aggrieved inmates[;]” (2) when “some mechanism exists to provide relief, but no ordinary prisoner can discern or navigate it” because “no ordinary prisoner can make sense of what it demands[;]” and (3) “when prison ...


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