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Huskey v. Fisher

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

April 4, 2019




         This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Matthew Huskey, who challenges the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of action against “[e]very person” who under color of state authority causes the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges that defendants used excessive force against him and denied him adequate medical care. The defendants have moved for summary judgment, and the plaintiff has responded to the motion. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted, and the instant case will be dismissed.

         Factual Allegations

         Mr. Huskey alleges that on September 8, 2016, the defendants used excessive force against him while he was in the clinic for a sick call. The court previously outlined the sequence of events in a Report and Recommendation:

[Mr. Huskey] saw the nurse, and the Clinic Officer told him to stand against the wall. Lt. Griffin entered the clinic and asked the nurse for a bandage. He saw Mr. Huskey and told him to take his hands out of his pockets. Huskey first ignored Griffin, but eventually took his hands out of his pockets - and immediately put them out of sight behind his back. He then laughed at Griffin.
Lt. Griffin yelled and cursed at him, drawing Lt. Scott into the clinic, as well. Scott told Huskey to get against the wall; Huskey complied, but Griffin grabbed him by the neck and pinned his face against the wall. Huskey turned and tried to break Griffin's hold, and the two officers took him to the ground and restrained him with flex cuffs. A doctor later told him that he had broken his arm when he hit the ground during the altercation. By this point, Captain Munford and defendant Clark arrived and shoved Huskey's face into the wall. Clark then asked if anyone had patted Huskey down, and, when no one answered, Clark yelled, “He's got a knife!” Defendant Munford then patted Huskey down, then yelled, “Oh, you mother-ker, you got a knife!” Munford then turned Huskey around and, with Clark, removed Huskey's shoes and pants. Defendants Munford, Griffin, Scott, Clark, and Herring then took turns slapping Huskey (who was still restrained) about the face and head. Munford said that he would teach Huskey's “white ass” about hitting one of his officers and having a knife.

         Report and Recommendation [23] at pp. 2-3, adopted at [27].

         Mr. Huskey also claims that after the incident in the clinic, Captain Mary Jones left him in flex cuffs for about an hour, and it took four or five hours for the doctor to arrive. [23] at 4. Dr. Santos then arrived, examined him, and told Jones that MDOC policy required that inmates visit the hospital after an altercation with staff. Id. Mr. Huskey testified that Captain Jones told Dr. Santos that she would not transport him to the hospital and that Dr. Santos could conduct the examination, stating, “If you don't see him, he won't be seen.” Id. Dr. Santos finished examining Mr. Huskey and said he could return to his building. Id. Mr. Huskey seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief. [1] at pp. 25-26.

         In his complaint, Mr. Huskey has described his efforts to exhaust prison administrative remedies prior to filing his lawsuit. [1] at pp. 8-10. Mr. Huskey claims that on September 12, 2016, he filed three separate grievances - one relating to excessive use of force, one relating to the denial of medical care by Capt. Jones, and one relating to failure to get medical care by Officer Hope. Id. at p. 8. He alleged that each of the grievances was rejected by the Administrative Remedy Program. Id. He attached to his complaint the relevant grievances, each of which was rejected during initial screening. Id. at pp. 28-34. The defendants presented MDOC Administrative Remedy Program documents confirming Mr. Huskey's submissions and the subsequent rejections from the ARP. See, ARP MSP-16-1859; ARP MSP-16-1860; ARP MSP-16-1861; Affidavit of R. Pennington regarding amendment/appeal of ARP MSP-16-1859; and Affidavit of R. Pennington regarding amendment/appeal of all three grievances.

         Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

         The documents the parties have provided reveal that Mr. Huskey did not exhaust the prison grievance process before filing the instant suit. Congress enacted the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §1997e et seq. - including its requirement that inmates exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit - in an effort to address the large number of prisoner complaints filed in federal courts. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 202 (2007). Congress meant for the exhaustion requirement to be an effective tool to help weed out the frivolous claims from the colorable ones:

Prisoner litigation continues to ‘account for an outsized share of filings' in federal district courts. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 94, n. 4, 126 S.Ct. 2378 (2006) (slip op., at 12, n.4). In 2005, nearly 10 percent of all civil cases filed in federal courts nationwide were prisoner complaints challenging prison conditions or claiming civil rights violations. Most of these cases have no merit; many are frivolous. Our legal system, however, remains committed to guaranteeing that prisoner claims of illegal conduct by their custodians are fairly handled according to law. The challenge lies in ensuring that the flood of non-meritorious claims does not submerge and effectively preclude consideration of the allegations with merit. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989).
Congress addressed that challenge in the PLRA. What this country needs, Congress decided, is fewer and better prisoner suits. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524, 122 S.Ct. 983, 152 L.Ed.2d 12 (2002) (PLRA intended to “reduce the quantity and improve the quality of prisoner suits”). To that end, Congress enacted a variety of reforms designed to filter out the bad claims and facilitate consideration of the good. Key among these was the ...

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