United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT, WITHDRAWING THE COURT'S REFERENCE TO THE
MAGISTRATE JUDGE, AND DENYNG DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL
THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 22) of
Defendants David Dyson and Demetrius Haley
(“Defendants”). Plaintiff Cordarlrius Sledge
(“Plaintiff”) filed his pro se Complaint
(ECF No. 1), alleging Defendants, corrections officers at the
facility in which he was imprisoned, violated his civil
rights. Defendants now seek the dismissal of all claims
brought against them in that Complaint because Plaintiff
failed to exhaust his remedies as he was required to do under
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (the
“PLRA”). Plaintiff has filed no response. For
reasons set forth below, the instant Motion is
GRANTED. All of Plaintiff's claims
against Defendants are hereby DISMISSED. As
a result, the Court's prior Reference (ECF No. 29) of
Defendants' Motion to Compel (ECF No. 28) to the
Magistrate Judge is WITHDRAWN. And the
Motion to Compel is DENIED as moot.
filed his pro se Complaint (ECF No. 1) on April 19,
2016. The Court is required screen to prisoner complaints,
dismissing them or portions thereof if they are frivolous or
otherwise fail to state a remediable claim for relief.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b).
The Court screened Plaintiff's Complaint in this case,
dismissing one defendant in its April 26, 2017 Order (ECF No.
11). And in doing so, the Court also ordered that process be
served upon the remaining Defendants. Not long thereafter,
Defendants filed an Answer (ECF No. 15) to the pro
se Complaint. On October 24, 2017, Defendants filed the
present Motion (ECF No. 22). Plaintiff, however, did not file
a response. Despite the fact that the period to respond had
long since elapsed, the Court gave Plaintiff another chance
in its January 3, 2018 Order (ECF No. 30), warning Plaintiff
that failure to respond would result in the Court regarding
Defendants' Statement of Facts as undisputed in its
entirety. Plaintiff still has not responded.
also filed a Motion to Compel Discovery on January 3, 2018
(ECF No. 28). On the same day, the Court referred that Motion
to the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 29).
following facts are undisputed by the parties. See Def.
Dyson and Haley's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts,
Oct. 24, 2017, ECF No. 22-2 [hereinafter “Defs.'
Statement of Facts”]; Order Directing Pl. to Show
Cause, Jan. 3, 2018, ECF No. 30. Plaintiff was an inmate
housed by the Shelby County Division of Corrections, 1045
Mullins Station Road, Memphis, TN 38134 (the
“DOC”) at the time he filed this lawsuit.
Plaintiff alleges that certain officers employed by the DOC,
including Defendants, assaulted Plaintiff while he was an
inmate. Plaintiff further alleges that this incident occurred
on May 16, 2015 (the “Incident”). DOC Policy 323
(“Policy 323”) governs the submission by inmates
of complaints or grievances concerning actions by staff that
negatively affect inmates. The version of Policy 323 that was
in effect at the time of the Incident took effect on April
27, 2015. The rules governing inmate grievances, as explained
in Policy 323, are included in the DOC Inmate Handbook. Each
inmate receives an Inmate Handbook upon arrival at the DOC.
The grievance process is available to every inmate. The
grievance process was available to Plaintiff on and after the
date of the Incident. Grievance forms and submission boxes
for those forms are located throughout the prison and are
available to all inmates. The submission boxes are locked so
that forms can be inserted into them but cannot be removed
from them without a key. DOC mail clerks, but no other
individuals, have keys to the submission boxes. Policy 323
covers four types of grievances: (1) line grievances, (2)
medical grievances, (3) confidential grievances, and (4)
emergency grievances. Plaintiff's allegations constituted
a confidential grievance. Policy 323 requires inmates to
submit any grievance, including confidential grievances,
within thirty days of the alleged incident giving rise to the
grievance. An inmate must sign and submit his own grievance
form. Inmates may not use disciplinary appeal forms to
substitute for, or double as, grievance forms. The DOC Inmate
Grievance Department (the “Department”) maintains
all grievances submitted by inmates. Tonya Beasley is the
supervisor of the Department. The Department maintains
Plaintiff's entire grievance file.
27, 2015, Plaintiff submitted an appeal of discipline against
him stemming from the Incident. Plaintiff's submission
was an appeal of a decision to administer discipline to
Plaintiff. Plaintiff sent a letter dated February 29, 2016,
regarding the Incident, which the Department received on or
about March 3, 2016. Plaintiff sent a second letter dated
March 7, 2016, which the Department received on or about that
same day. In addition to Plaintiff's letters, several
other inmates sent a letter-dated May 19, 2015-about the
Incident to DOC Director William Gupton, attorney Arthur
Horne, the DOC's Office of Professional Standards, Fox 13
News, and Mayor Mark Luttrell. Plaintiff did not sign this
letter. Plaintiff submitted no other grievance documents
regarding the Incident.
STANDARD OF LAW
judgment is proper where the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. When deciding a
motion for summary judgment, the Court must review all the
evidence, viewing it in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and also drawing all reasonable inferences in
that party's favor. Roell v. Hamilton Cty., 870
F.3d 471, 479 (6th Cir. 2017) (citing Watson v.
Cartee, 817 F.3d 299, 302 (6th Cir. 2016));
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The Court “may not make
credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.”
Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d 714, 726 (6th
Cir. 2014). “The burden is generally on the moving
party to show that no genuine issue of material fact exists,
but that burden may be discharged by ‘showing . . .
that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving
party's case.'” Bennett v. City of
Eastpointe, 410 F.3d 810, 817 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)).
When the motion is supported by documentary proof such as
depositions and affidavits, the nonmoving party may not rest
on his pleadings but instead must present some
“specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324;
Eastham v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 754 F.3d
356, 360 (6th Cir. 2014). These facts must be more than a
scintilla of evidence and must meet the standard of whether a
reasonable juror could find by a preponderance of the
evidence that the nonmoving party is entitled to a verdict in
his favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 252 (1986). The Court must, however, enter summary
judgment “against a party who fails to . . . [meet the
burden] that party will bear . . . at trial.”
Celotex Corp, 477 U.S. at 322.
pro se Complaint is captioned as a “Complaint
for Violation of Civil Rights Under 42 U.S.C. §
1983.” Pro Se Complaint, at 1, Apr. 19, 2016, ECF No.
1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants entered the area he was
located in for a random search because they claimed to have
seen smoke. Id. at 2. Plaintiff was then
strip-searched by Defendants. Id. Plaintiff says
that Defendants claimed Plaintiff tried to flush contraband
immediately preceding or during the search. Id.
Then, according to the allegations of the pro se
Complaint, Defendants Haley and McClain punched Plaintiff in
the face. Id. Defendant Dyson picked Plaintiff up
and slammed him face first into the sink and then the floor.
Id. Plaintiff claims to have then lost
consciousness, waking up in the institution's medical
center. Id. Plaintiff ultimately seeks to have
“Defendants . . . held [accountable] for their
actions.” Id. at 3.
move for summary judgment solely on the basis that Plaintiff
has failed to satisfy the exhaustion requirement set forth in
the PLRA. See Mem. in Supp. of Defs. David Dyson and
Demetrius Haley's Mot. for Summ. J. Based on Pl.'s
Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies, at 6-10, Oct. 24,
2017, ECF No. 22-1 [hereinafter “Defs' Mot. for
Summ. J.”]. Plaintiff, despite the entry of a Show
Cause Order, has failed to respond. Plaintiff's failure
is not, however, good grounds for granting the Motion.
See W.D. Tenn. R. 7.2(a)(2). Therefore, the Court is
given the difficult task of considering Defendants'
Motion on the merits without “the crucible of
meaningful adversarial testing.” United States v.
Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 656 (1984) (discussing the right
to counsel). “The dilemma thereby created for the Court
. . . [involves] playing ‘devil's advocate' on
behalf of the disinterested [party], while at the same ...