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Brown v. Greenfield

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

September 1, 2019

Ade Brown, # 884273, Plaintiff,
v.
Unknown Greenfield, et al., Defendants.

          HONORABLE PAUL L. MALONEY JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PHILLIP J. GREEN United States Magistrate Judge.

         This is a civil rights action brought pro se by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This lawsuit arises out of conditions of plaintiffs confinement at the Ionia Correctional Facility.

         The defendants are Sergeant Unknown Greenfield, Lieutenant Unknown Ryske, Corrections Officer Unknown Phelps, Lieutenant D. Howard, Assistant Deputy Warden B. Snyder, Sergeant Unknown Derochers, Lieutenant Unknown Zwiker, Corrections Officer Unknown Obgurn, Corrections Officer Unknown Hicks, Prison Counselor Unknown Thurlby, Corrections Officer Unknown Mygrants, and Corrections Officer Unknown Eyers.[1]

         Plaintiff alleges that, on the morning of April 11, 2017, he disobeyed two direct orders by Officer Mygrants, but he eventually allowed himself to be placed in restraints. Plaintiff states that he believes that Officer Eyers was the corrections officer who used excessive force in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights by hitting his head and applying restraints too tightly. Plaintiff alleges that Sergeant Greenfield, Lieutenant Ryske, Officers Mygrants, Phelps, Sparry, and Schafer, and Counselor Thurlby failed to intervene in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.

         Plaintiff alleges that Registered Nurse Lake, Officers Phelps, Mygrants, Sparry, Schafer, Obgurn, Hicks, and Eyers, Counselor Thurlby, Lieutenants Howard, Ryske, and Zwicker, Sergeants Greenfield and Derochers, and Assistant Deputy Warden Snyder violated his Eighth Amendment rights by allowing him to remain in restraints.

         The matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment by all defendants, except unserved defendants Lake, Schafer, and Sparry, based on the affirmative defense of failure to exhaust administrative remedies, as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).[2] (ECF No. 52). Plaintiff opposes the motion. (ECF No. 55). Defendants did not file a reply brief. For the reasons set forth herein, I recommend that the Court dismiss all plaintiff's claims against defendants Lake, Schafer, and Sparry without prejudice for failure to achieve service. I further recommend that the Court deny defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); McKay v. Federspiel, 823 F.3d 862, 866 (6th Cir. 2016). The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate 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.' ” Rocheleau v. Elder Living Const., LLC, 814 F.3d 398, 400 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The Court must consider all pleadings, depositions, affidavits, and admissions on file, and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); France v. Lucas, 836 F.3d 612, 624 (6th Cir. 2016).

         When the party without the burden of proof seeks summary judgment, that party bears the initial burden of pointing out to the district court an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, but need not support its motion with affidavits or other materials “negating” the opponent's claim. See Morris v. Oldham County Fiscal Court, 201 F.3d 784, 787 (6th Cir. 2000); see also Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir. 2005). Once the movant shows that “there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, ” the nonmoving party has the burden of coming forward with evidence raising a triable issue of fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To sustain this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on the mere allegations of his pleadings. See Ellington v. City of E. Cleveland, 689 F.3d 549, 552 (6th Cir. 2012). The motion for summary judgment forces the nonmoving party to present evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact for trial. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1478 (6th Cir. 1990); see Newell Rubbermaid, Inc. v. Raymond Corp., 676 F.3d 521, 533 (6th Cir. 2012). “A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient; ‘there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].' ” Dominguez v. Correctional Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252); see Lossia v. Flagstar Bancorp, Inc., 895 F.3d 423, 428 (6th Cir. 2018).

         A moving party with the burden of proof faces a “substantially higher hurdle.” Arnett v. Myers, 281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002); Cockrel v. Shelby County Sch. Dist., 270 F.3d 1036, 1056 (6th Cir. 2001). The moving party without the burden of proof needs only show that the opponent cannot sustain his burden at trial. “But where the moving party has the burden - the plaintiff on a claim for relief or the defendant on an affirmative defense - his showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.” Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986) (citation and quotation omitted). The Court of Appeals has repeatedly emphasized that the party with the burden of proof faces “a substantially higher hurdle” and “ ‘must show that the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it.' ” Arnett, 281 F.3d at 561 (quoting 11 James William Moore, et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 56.13[1], at 56-138 (3d ed. 2000)); see Surles v. Andison, 678 F.3d 452, 455-56 (6th Cir. 2012); Cockrel, 270 F.2d at 1056. Accordingly, summary judgment in favor of the party with the burden of persuasion “is inappropriate when the evidence is susceptible of different interpretations or inferences by the trier of fact.” Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 553 (1999).

         Standards Applicable to the Affirmative Defense of Failure to Exhaust Remedies

         Defendants have asserted the affirmative defense of plaintiffs failure to exhaust administrative remedies. A prisoner bringing an action with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 “or any other Federal law” must exhaust available administrative remedies. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 220 (2007); Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731 (2001). A prisoner must exhaust available administrative remedies, even if the prisoner may not be able to obtain the specific type of relief he seeks in the state administrative process. See Porter, 534 U.S. at 520; Booth, 532 U.S. at 734. “This requirement is a strong one. To further the purposes behind the PLRA, exhaustion is required even if the prisoner subjectively believes the remedy is not available, even when the state cannot grant the particular relief requested, and even where the prisoner[ ] believes the procedure to be ineffectual or futile.” Napier v. Laurel County, Ky., 636 F.3d 218, 222 (6th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         In Jones v. Bock, the Supreme Court held that “exhaustion is an affirmative defense, and prisoners are not required to specifically plead or demonstrate exhaustion in their complaints.” 549 U.S. at 216. The burden is on defendants to show that plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reiterated that “no unexhausted claim may be considered.” 549 U.S. at 220. The Court held that when a prisoner complaint contains both exhausted and unexhausted claims, the lower courts should not dismiss the entire ...


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