United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
initiated this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, for Defendants' alleged excessive force
while Plaintiff was in state custody on September 11, 2015.
Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 55.) The Motion relies solely on
Plaintiff's failure to properly exhaust his
administrative remedies, as mandated by the PLRA, prior to
filing suit. The Court held a Hearing on the Motion on June
7, 2019. (ECF No. 88.) During the Hearing, the Court ordered
Defendants to produce Plaintiff's medical records for in
camera review. Having considered the parties'
arguments, the record, and Plaintiff's medical records,
the Court finds that there remains a genuine issue of fact as
to the availability of the administrative grievance process.
Therefore, Defendants' Motion is DENIED.
September 11, 2015, and September 16, 2015, Plaintiff was an
inmate with the Tennessee Department of Correction and was
housed at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary
(“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee. (ECF Nos. 1 and
alleges that on September 11, 2015, Defendants Marcus Jones
and Billy Washington, both WTSP employees, used excessive
force in their attempt to subdue Plaintiff in his cell. (ECF
No. 1.) Plaintiff's testimony and medical records
establish that he was immediately taken to the infirmary
because his right arm was injured during the altercation.
(ECF No. 91 at 4, 6.) Medical personnel documented that
Plaintiff's difficulty moving his arm was consistent with
trauma. (Id. at 6, 8.) An x-ray was taken, and
Plaintiff was provided with a sling and narcotics to treat
his pain. (Id. at 5, 8.)
at WTSP, doctors ordered and examined Plaintiff's x-rays
and ascertained that Plaintiff suffered from an “acute
displaced fracture of distal humeral diaphysis”
(Id. at 12), meaning that the bottom portion of
Plaintiff's upper-arm bone snapped into two or more
pieces. Plaintiff continued to complain of great physical
pain, was given narcotics to treat that pain, and experienced
difficulty moving his arm. (See Id. at 13-19.) WTSP
medical providers requested an orthopedic consultation and
surgery evaluation. (Id. at 24.) Pursuant to their
requests, the process through which Plaintiff was to be
transferred to a special needs facility was undertaken.
testified that at some point during the five days following
the incident- throughout which, he was in and out of the
infirmary, under the influence of prescription pain
medication, and in great physical discomfort-Plaintiff asked
Corporal Jones (different than Defendant Jones) for
assistance with writing and filing a grievance. (ECF No. 88.)
According to Plaintiff, Jones refused to help, stating that
he (1) did not have time and (2) had to wait until all of the
transferring process was complete. (Id.) Plaintiff
also testified that he asked fellow inmates for assistance
with writing the grievance, but they refused. (Id.)
Plaintiff stated that during this time, his arm injury
rendered him physically unable to write a grievance.
(Id.; ECF Nos. 61, 67, and 72.) Plaintiff was then
transferred to Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility
(“DSNF”) in Nashville, Tennessee, where Plaintiff
was scheduled to have an orthopedic consultation. (ECF No.
88; ECF No. 91 at 32.)
arrived to DSNF on September 16, 2015, five days after he was
injured. (ECF No. 88; ECF No. 91 at 33.) Plaintiff testified
that his priority at DSNF was treatment for his arm. (ECF No.
88.) Over the next three-and-a-half weeks, Plaintiff's
healing was monitored as medical personnel discussed the
treatment plan and likelihood of surgery. (ECF No. 91 at
35-55.) Plaintiff's records at DSNF indicate that
Plaintiff consistently attributed his injury to an
altercation with correctional officers. (See, e.g.,
id. at 36.) Medical personnel documented
Plaintiff's persistent severe pain, narcotic pain
treatment, and sling utilization. (Id. at 36, 40,
44, and 53.) Ultimately, it was determined that
Plaintiff's arm was not healing properly, and surgery was
recommended. (Id. at 47, 51.)
testified that during the first week of October, he spoke
with a DSNF internal affairs officer about the possibility of
filing a grievance related to the September 11, 2015,
incident. (ECF No. 88.) The officer advised Plaintiff to
file. (Id.) Thus, on October 6, 2015, while still at
DSNF, Plaintiff-his arm now healed enough to allow him to
write-filed a grievance against Defendants. (Id.;
ECF No. 56.) The grievance was denied on October 12, 2015, as
“Inappropriate - Non-grievable” because it was
filed “past 7 days of occurance [sic].” (ECF No.
1-4 at 4.) Plaintiff testified that the grievance's
denial precluded him from having an opportunity to be heard.
(ECF No. 88.)
Plaintiff filed this suit on the basis of Defendants'
excessive force, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF
No. 1.) Defendants now contend that they are entitled to
summary judgment solely because Plaintiff failed to properly
exhaust his administrative remedies. (ECF Nos. 55 and 56.) In
opposition, Plaintiff asks the Court to consider his
inability to file. (ECF Nos. 61, 67, 72, and 88.)
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). The critical question here is
“whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986).
moving party has the initial burden of proving that no
genuine issue of material fact exists, and the court must
draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party.” Stansberry v. Air Wisconsin
Airlines Corp., 651 F.3d 482, 486 (6th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotations omitted). “Once the moving party
meets its initial burden, the nonmovant must ‘designate
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'” Kimble v. Wasylyshyn, 439
Fed.Appx. 492, 495-96 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (requiring a party
maintaining that a fact is genuinely disputed to
“cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the
record”). “The nonmovant must, however, do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts. [T]here must be evidence upon which a
reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the
non-moving party to create a genuine dispute.” Lee
v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cty.,
432 Fed.Appx. 435, 441 (6th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations
and citations ...