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Snelling v. Klee

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 1, 2016

THOMAS R. SNELLING (#262770) Plaintiff,
PAUL KLEE, et al., Defendants.



          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.


         Thomas Roger Snelling (“Snelling”) filed this action against twenty-one defendants, all of whom are corrections officers, wardens, and employees at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility (“ARF”). He alleges that the Defendants violated the First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in their treatment of him.

         Defendants filed this motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. They argue that: (1) Snelling failed to adhere to Michigan Department of Corrections' (“MDOC”) grievance procedures; and, (2) the Eleventh Amendment bars Snelling's official capacity claims.

         Fort the reasons stated, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' motions for summary judgment.


         Snelling is incarcerated at the MDOC's Marquette Branch Prison. On October 7, 2015, while at the ARF, Snelling filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan against twenty-one Defendants, each of whom was sued in his or her official and personal capacities.

         On October 26, 2015, Judge Quist entered an order of partial dismissal and transferred the case to this Court. He dismissed two of the Defendants “for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).” Nineteen Defendants remain.

         A. Motions

         Eighteen Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Paul Klee, Donald Ricumstrict, Kenneth Salisbury, James Eaton, Richard Newsome, Stephan Braman, Thomas Schulz, Steve Haines, Brian Stuart, Adam Gust, Charles Clark, David Hill, Paul Stoyk, Bruce Barden, Steven Kindinger, Gary King, Brian Evers, and Angela Holman joined in one motion. David Martin filed a separate motion, adopting the motion filed by the others. Each motion contends that (a) Snelling failed to exhaust his grievances and (b) the official capacity claims should be dismissed.

         The motions are fully briefed.


         A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if 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). A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court “views the evidence, all facts, and any inferences that may be drawn from the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Pure Tech Sys., Inc. v. Mt. Hawley Ins. Co., 95 F. App'x 132, 135 (6th Cir. 2004) (internal citations omitted).

         “The moving party has the initial burden of proving that no genuine issue of material fact exists . . . .” Stansberry v. Air Wis. Airlines Corp., 651 F.3d 482, 486 (6th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations omitted); cf. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (e)(2) (providing that if a party “fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact, ” then the court may “consider the fact undisputed for the purposes of the motion.”). “Once the moving party satisfies its burden, ‘the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts showing a triable issue.'” Wrench LLC v. Taco Bell Corp., 256 F.3d 446, 453 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). The nonmoving party must “make an affirmative showing with proper evidence in order to defeat the motion.” Alexander v. CareSource, 576 F.3d 551, 558 (6th Cir. 2009); see also Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 432 F. App'x 435, 441 (6th Cir. 2011) (“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.”) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence favoring the nonmoving party is merely colorable or is not significantly probative. City Management Corp. v. United States Chem. Co., 43 F.3d 244, 254 (6th Cir. 1994). In other words, summary judgment is appropriate when “a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported and the nonmoving party fails to respond with a showing sufficient to establish an essential element of its case. . . .” Stansberry, 651 F.3d at 486 (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 371, 322-23 (1986)).


         A. Snelling bases his claims on the First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth ...

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