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Ables v. Hall

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

May 21, 2019




         This matter is before the court on the motion of Defendant Willie Knighten (“Defendant”), through counsel, for summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court, having considered the pleadings, exhibits, and the applicable law, finds that the motion is well taken and should be granted, as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (2000).


         On September 10, 2018, Plaintiff Jon Jeffery Ables (“Plaintiff”), [1] filed this lawsuit, pro se, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Pelicia Hall, “Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections” (“MDOC”), Dr. Gloria Perry, “Head Medical Doctor”, and Willie Knighten, “Hospital Manager.” Doc. #1 at 1-2. Plaintiff accuses all Defendants of acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs due to his diabetic condition, in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care. Doc. #1; Doc. #3. Plaintiff seeks proper medical treatment, including an appropriate diet, $10 million in compensatory damages, and a transfer from Mississippi State Penitentiary to East Mississippi Correctional Facility.[2] Doc. #3 at 14.

         On April 2, 2019, Defendant Knighten filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this lawsuit, as is required by Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”).[3] 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)(2000); Doc. #43- 44. Specifically, Defendant's motion is supported by eleven exhibits, demonstrating Plaintiff's failure to complete the Administrative Remedy Program (“ARP”) with regard to his claim against the Defendant. Doc. #43-44; Doc. #49 at 1.

         On April 12, 2019, after retaining counsel, Plaintiff responded arguing that all Defendants were provided “fair notice” of his claims and grievances through the administrative process and have had “time and opportunity” to address these matters internally, falling short of alleging exhaustion. Doc. #47-48.[4]

         On April 17, 2019, Defendant Knighten replied arguing, in sum, that “Plaintiff failed to produce or identify any documentary proof that Ms. Knighten was apprised of Plaintiff's claims against her before the initiation of this lawsuit; that any grievance was timely filed relating to the allegations underlying his claims…; or that he completed the two-step administrative grievance process….” Doc. #49 at 2. The court has considered the briefing and is prepared to rule.

         Undisputed Facts

         The following are the relevant facts alleged by Defendant and undisputed by Plaintiff:

Plaintiff's institutional record contains five administrative complaints… Plaintiff filed two identical requests for emergency administrative relief on June 4 and June 9, 2018, respectively, consisting of letters addressed to Commissioner Hall. (Ex. H (MDOC-Ables-002626-28), Ex. I (MDOC-Ables-002630-32)). In these letters, Plaintiff complained that Dr. Perry and the “[C]enturion medical contractors” had been deliberately indifferent to his diabetic condition by refusing to check his blood sugar four times per day and administer insulin accordingly. (Exs. H, I). The Director of the ARP responded to Plaintiff's emergency requests, informing Plaintiff that his grievance did not meet the criteria for emergency review and instructing him to re-submit the complaint within five days “as a non-emergency issue.” (Ex. J (MDOC-Ables-002625), Ex. K (MDOC-Ables-002629)). Plaintiff never re-submitted his complaint as instructed…

Doc. #44 at 2-3.

         Law and Analysis

         Summary judgment is appropriate where “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). If the moving party meets the initial burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Bisby v. Garza, 342 Fed.Appx. 969, 970-71 (5th Cir. 2009). Factual controversies are to be resolved in favor of the nonmoving party, “but only when there is an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Navarro v. City of San Juan, Tex., 624 Fed.Appx. 174, 178 (5th Cir. 2015). If the nonmoving party fails to meet its burden, the motion for summary judgment must be granted. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1076 (5th Cir. 1994).

         According to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, 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). The PLRA's exhaustion requirement ...

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