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Anderson v. Brown

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

February 10, 2015

WILLIAM LEE ANDERSON II, Plaintiff,
v.
J.L. BROWN, et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JOEL C. HOPPE, Magistrate Judge.

William Lee Anderson II, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that J.L. Brown and Correctional Officer Oliver violated his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Defendants moved for summary judgment, and Anderson timely responded. Defendants' motion, ECF No. 22, is before me for a report and recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). ECF No. 31.

Having considered the parties' pleadings, all supporting materials, and the applicable law, I respectfully recommend that the presiding District Judge grant the motion because Anderson has not exhausted his available administrative remedies. That undisputed fact entitles Brown and Oliver to judgment as a matter of law.

I. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate only if "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); Tolan v. Cotton, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014) (per curiam). Facts are material when they "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute over a material fact exists if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party." Kolon Indus., Inc. v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 748 F.3d 160, 173 (4th Cir. 2014) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

"The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Appalachian Power Co. v. Arthur, ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2014 WL 3900618, at *6 (W.D. Va. 2014) (Urbanski, J.) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). If the moving party makes that showing, the nonmoving party must then produce admissible evidence-not mere allegations or denials-establishing the specific material facts genuinely in dispute. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e); Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Wilkins v. Montgomery, 751 F.3d 214, 220 (4th Cir. 2014). When deciding a summary judgment motion, the court must consider the whole record and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Tolan, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. at 1866. The court does not weigh evidence, consider credibility, or resolve disputed issues-it decides only whether the record reveals a genuine dispute over material facts. See id.

II. Background

Anderson is an inmate at Augusta Correctional Center ("ACC") in Craigsville, Virginia. Compl. 1, ECF No. 1. He filed this lawsuit against Brown and Oliver on April 8, 2014, alleging that the officers violated his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Compl. 1; Compl. Ex. at 1-2, 4-11, ECF No. 1-1. Anderson's claims stem from three alleged events: (1) being placed in segregation and strip searched; (2) being forced to sleep on a top bunk even though he has pelvic pain and panic attacks; and (3) cutting his finger on a metal bed frame. See generally Compl. 4; Compl. Ex. at 3-11.

According to the complaint, Anderson requires a bottom bunk to accommodate a painful pelvic injury and severe panic attacks. See Compl. 4; Compl. Ex. at 3. Around January 14, 2014, Anderson was reassigned from a bottom bunk in pod A2 to a top bunk in pod B2. See Compl. Ex. at 8. When Anderson told Oliver that he "can't climb up and down th[at] bunk, " the officer told him to move to another pod. See Compl. 4. Once unpacked there, Oliver told Anderson to move again. See id. Anderson "asked the officer to let [him] rest" while walking to their third destination. Id. Oliver immediately put Anderson in segregation, where he was strip searched and his property was destroyed. See id.

Anderson was assigned a top bunk in pod B1 when he was released from segregation eight days later. See id. An officer threatened to send him back to segregation if he complained about the assignment. See id. ; Compl. Ex. at 3. Anderson struggled to climb on and off of his top bunk, which he claims was improperly installed and ill maintained. See Compl. Ex. at 3. He also cut his finger on the metal bed frame three times. See id. Brown, B1's Unit Manager, refused to transfer him to a bottom bunk even after he cut his finger and fell face-first from the bunk to the floor. See Compl Ex. at 5.

Anderson asserts that Oliver violated his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights when Oliver put him in segregation "for no reason" and strip searched him. See Compl. Ex. at 4, 8-9, 11. He also contends that being forced to climb on and off a top bunk was cruel and unusual punishment and that Brown was deliberately indifferent to his pelvic pain, panic attacks, and injured finger-all in violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Compl. Ex. at 4, 9. Anderson seeks $500, 000 in damages and an order directing prison officials to "repair all the bunks" like the one in his cell. Compl. 5. Defendants respond that Anderson did not exhaust his available administrative remedies on any claim before he filed this lawsuit. See Def. Br. in Supp. 5-7.

III. Discussion

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") requires inmates to properly exhaust "such administrative remedies as are available" before filing any federal lawsuit "with respect to prison conditions." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (2012); see also Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007); Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93 (2006); Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 736-41 (2001). "There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA, " Jones, 549 U.S. at 211, and that courts cannot excuse an inmate's failure to exhaust available remedies "in accordance with the [prison's] applicable procedural rules, " Woodford, 548 U.S. at 88.

A remedy is "available" when there is "the possibility of some relief for the action complained of." Booth, 532 U.S. at 739. Requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies gives prison officials the time and opportunity to address the inmate's complaint internally before being haled into federal court. Woodford, 548 U.S. 89; Fletcher v. Menard Corr. Ctr., 623 F.3d 1171, 1173-74 (7th Cir. 2011); Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725 (4th Cir. 2008). "Where the prison provides an administrative grievance procedure, the inmate must file a grievance raising a particular claim and pursue it through all available levels of appeal."[1] Aziz v. Pittsylvania Cnty Jail, No. 7:11cv39, 2012 WL 263393, at *4 (W.D. Va. Jan. 30, 2012) (Urbanski, ...


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