United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. 11)
MICHAEL HLUCHANIUK, Magistrate Judge.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On February 25, 2014, plaintiff Charles Taylor, an inmate incarcerated by the Michigan Department of Corrections ("MDOC"), brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming a violation of his rights under the United States Constitution. (Dkt. 1). When plaintiff filed his complaint he was incarcerated at the Carson City Correctional Facility, but the events giving rise to his complaint occurred at the Cooper Street Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. In his pro se complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants the Michigan Department of Corrections ("MDOC"), and unit officers Russell Savioe and Nicholas Sanford violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they required him to retrieve a water hose from an unsafe catwalk and by failing to provide him with adequate medical treatment after he fell from the catwalk. On April 22, 2014, Chief Judge Paul L. Maloney dismissed MDOC pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c) because he concluded that it is immune. (Dkt. 3). Chief Judge Maloney also ordered that the case be transferred to the Unites States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).
On August 1, 2014, defendants Russell Savioe and Nicholas Sanford filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). (Dkt. 11). On October 29, 2014, District Judge Patrick J. Duggan referred this motion to the undersigned for determination. (Dkt. 13). On December 22, 2014, plaintiff filed a response. (Dkt. 15). Defendants' motion for summary judgment is now ready for report and recommendation.
For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 11) be GRANTED, and plaintiff's complaint against defendants be DISMISSED without prejudice.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
A. Plaintiff's Complaint
Plaintiff alleges that he was a unit porter for the 3rd and 4th gallery of the housing unit. (Dkt. 1, Compl, at 3). Plaintiff informed defendant officers Russell Savoie and Nicholas Sanford that he was afraid of heights. (Id. ) Defendants would laugh at plaintiff when he would go up to the third and fourth gallery, needing to hold onto the walls because of his fear of heights. (Id. ) Then, defendant Savoie changed plaintiff's job to shower porter. (Id. ) Plaintiff's responsibilities included going to the back catwalk to retrieve the water hose. (Id. ) The back catwalk was a two-foot wide steel platform that was open on each side. (Id. ) If a person were to fall, they would fall to the basement into a ten-foot hole. (Id. ) On April 5, 2013, plaintiff fell to the basement from the catwalk and was injured, including suffering a seizure. (Id. ) Defendants Savoie and Sanford, together with other medical staff and emergency medical technicians were able get plaintiff out of the hole and thereafter transferred him to Alliance Hospital. (Id. ) As a result of the fall, plaintiff suffered bruises on his head, neck, and back, and required the assistance of a wheelchair. (Id. ) Plaintiff's legs and neck still experience pain and numbness, and plaintiff continues to have nightmares about the fall. (Id. )
1. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
Defendants Savoie and Sanford raise two primary arguments in their motion for summary judgment: (1) plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies, and (2) defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. (Dkt. 11, Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. at 8-18). For either of these reasons, defendants ask the court to grant summary judgment in their favor. (Id. )
Defendants argue that it is essential for a prisoner-plaintiff to properly exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing a lawsuit by first filing a grievance that complies with the prison grievance system regarding the allegations made in his complaint. Defendants contend that an untimely filed grievance, even if appealed through all stages of the grievance process, does not fulfill the exhaustion requirement of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). According to defendants, this would "permit a prisoner to bypass deliberately and flagrantly administrative review without any risk of sanction." (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. at 11; citing Woodford 548 U.S. at 97). Rather, a prisoner-plaintiff must exhaust all three steps of the grievance process. See Hartsfield v. Vidor, 199 F.3d 305, 309 (6th Cir. 1999).
Defendants claim that the administrative process applicable to plaintiff's claims is governed by MDOC's Policy Directive 03.02.130, "Prisoner/Parolee Grievances" (effective date 07/09/2007). (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. at 12-13; see ...