United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
September 15, 2005.
CHARLES EAKLE, Plaintiff
TENNIS, Superintendent, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN E. JONES, District Judge
Charles Eakle ("Plaintiff" or "Eakle"), an inmate presently
confined in the Smithfield State Correctional Institution
("SCI-Smithfield"), in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, filed this civil
rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's
complaint centers around several alleged constitutional
violations which occurred while he was confined in the Rockview
State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Rockview"), in Bellefonte,
Pennsylvania. Specifically, Eakle challenges his placement in the
Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU"). He claims that he was improperly
placed in the RHU and subjected to excessive force in being
placed in the RHU. Named as Defendants are the following
employees and entities of SCI-Rockview: Program Review Committee
("PRC"); Superintendent Franklin Tennis; Former Deputy
Superintendent Anthony Biviano; Program Manager Ray Coffman;
Corrections Counselor Michael Knapp; Lieutenant Dale Walker; and
Corrections Officers Timothy Watson, and Timothy Gensamer
Presently pending before the Court are the Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment ("Plaintiff's Motion") (doc. 17) and
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Defendant's Motion").
(Rec. Doc. 13).*fn1 For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants' Motion (doc. 13) will be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW:
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) requires the court to
render summary judgment ". . . forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
"[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged
factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement
is that there be no genuine issue of material fact."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)
(emphasis in original).
A disputed fact is "material" if proof of its existence or
nonexistence would affect the outcome of the case under
applicable substantive law. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248;
see also Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078
(3d Cir. 1992). An issue of material fact is "genuine" if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Brenner v.
Local 514, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of
America, 927 F.2d 1283, 1287-88 (3d Cir. 1991).
When determining whether there is a genuine issue of material
fact, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences
in favor of the nonmoving party. See Moore v. Tartler,
986 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1993); see also Clement v. Consolidated Rail
Corporation, 963 F.2d 599, 600 (3d Cir. 1992); White v.
Westinghouse Electric Company, 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988).
In order to avoid summary judgment, however, the nonmoving party
may not rest on the unsubstantiated allegations of his or her
pleadings. When the party seeking summary judgment satisfies its
burden under Rule 56(c) of identifying evidence which
demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the
nonmoving party is required by Rule 56(e)*fn2 to go beyond
the pleadings with affidavits, depositions, answers to
interrogatories or the like in order to demonstrate specific
material facts which give rise to a genuine issue. See Celotex
Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The party
opposing the motion "must do more than simply show that there is
some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita
Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986). When Rule 56(e) shifts the burden of production to the
nonmoving party, that party must produce evidence to show the
existence of every element essential to its case which it bears
the burden of proving at trial, for "a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case
necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323. See Harter v. G.A.F. Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 851
(3d Cir. 1992).
STATEMENT OF FACTS:
Eakle was placed in Administrative Custody (Rec. Doc. 1 at 2).
On November 20, 2003, Eakle received an "others" report, from
SCI-Rockview Security Officers Lt. Vance and Lt. Eaton, stating
that he was to remain in Administrative Custody pending further
investigation of the assault and also because placement in
general population would "endanger [his] safety and welfare."
(Rec. Doc. 1 at 2).
On December 12, 2003, whiled housed in Administrative Custody,
Eakle was issued Misconduct Report No. A618953 for having another
inmate "slide a magazine to [Plaintiff] under [his] door." (Rec.
Doc. 1at 2-3).
On December 17, 2003, as a result of his misconduct, Plaintiff
was directed by Officers Watson and Walker, to "put [his]
jumpsuit on and cuff up to move to (Restricted Housing Unit)
RHU." (Rec. Doc. 1 at 3). Plaintiff refused, stating that he was
in Administrative Custody "for medical reasons". (Rec. Doc. 1 at
3). The officers left Plaintiff's cell, and returned with an
"assault team." (Rec. Doc. 1 at 3). Officer Walker again demanded
Plaintiff to put on his jumpsuit. After Plaintiff refused, the
"assault team" entered his cell and allegedly "attacked
[plaintiff] all at once and dragged [him] to the RHU." (Aff. of
Charles Eakle at 3). Plaintiff claims that he was then placed in
a cell in the RHU that smelled of urine. (Aff. of Charles Eakle
at 4). After the handcuffs were removed, Plaintiff was examined
by a nurse. (Aff. of Charles Eakle at 4). Plaintiff had
"scratches on [his] right leg and arm and the next day [his] hole
right side from [his] neck to [his] right knee was all black and
blue." (Aff. of Charles Eakle at 4). Later that day, Plaintiff
questioned Officer Walker as to who authorized his move from
Administrative Custody to the RHU. Walker responded that it was
the Shift Commander. (Aff. of Charles Eakle at 5).
On January 8, 2004, Eakle filed Grievance No. 72450, claiming
that he was improperly removed from Administrative Custody and
"forced into the RHU", in "violation of [his] safety and
protection" and "in violation of DOC Inmate Hand Book", which
states that an inmate placed in Administrative Custody for his
own safety, can only be released by the PRC or Superintendent.
(Rec. Doc. 15, Ex. A).
On January 9, 2004, the SCI-Rockview Grievance Coordinator
returned Plaintiff's grievance to him. (Rec. Doc. 15, Ex. B). The
Grievance Coordinator rejected Eakle's grievance on the basis
that: (1) Grievances related to Inmate Disciplinary and
Restricted Housing Unit Procedures are to be grieved through
DC-ADM 801; (2) Grievances related to Administrative Custody
Procedures are to be grieved through DC-ADM 802; and (3)
Plaintiff's excessive force claim was not submitted within
fifteen (15) calendar days after the event upon which the claim
was based. (Rec. Doc. 15, Ex. B). Eakle did not resubmit
grievances in accordance with DC-ADM 801 or 802, or appeal the
decision of the Grievance Coordinator to the Superintendent, or
the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals. (Rec.
Doc. 15, Ex. A at ¶ 10).
On September 16, 2004, Plaintiff filed the instant action in
which he seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
injunctive relief. (Rec. Doc. 1 at 4).
Defendants contend that Eakle's failure to exhaust available
administrative remedies entitles them to an entry of summary
judgment in their favor. In pertinent part, the Prison Litigation
Reform Act provides:
No action shall be brought with respect to prison
conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any
other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any
jail, prison, or other correctional facility until
such administrative remedies as are available are
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Exhaustion requires completion of the entire administrative
process. See Ahmed v. Sromovski, 103 F. Supp. 2d 838, 843-44
(E.D. Pa. 2000). If a prisoner fails to follow the required
administrative procedures, including meeting deadlines, the
inmate's action cannot be maintained. See Buckner v.
Bussanich, No. 1:CV-00-1594, slip op. at 6 (M.D. Pa. April 3,
2001) (Caldwell, J.) ("an administrative remedy is not made
unavailable simply because a prisoner failed to timely exercise
his rights under the procedure. Otherwise, the prisoner could
avoid the exhaustion requirement simply by refusing to pursue
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("Pennsylvania DOC")
has established procedures for the filing of complaints. First,
the Pennsylvania DOC Consolidated Inmate Review System provides
for three levels of administrative review of inmate grievances:
the initial grievance submitted to the Facility Grievance
Coordinator, an intermediate level of appeal to the Facility
Manager, and a final level of appeal to the Secretary's Office of
Inmate Grievances and Appeals. (Rec. Doc. 20, Ex. 2-A,
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections,
Consolidated Inmate Grievance Review System, Policy No. DC-ADM
804 § VI). See also Booth v. Churner, 206 F.3d 289, 293 n. 2
(3d Cir. 2000) (outlining the grievance review process).
The grievance procedure requires a prisoner to submit a
grievance for initial review within fifteen working days after
the event upon which the grievance is based. (Rec. Doc. 20, Ex.
2-A, DC-ADM 804 § VI, Part A(1)(h)). The inmate must state the
facts upon which he is entitled to relief. (Rec. Doc. 20, Ex.
2-A, DC-ADM 804 § VI, Part A(1)(g))("The inmate shall include a
statement of facts relevant to the claim . . . The inmate should
identify any persons who may have information that could be
helpful in resolving the grievance. The inmate should also
include information on attempts to resolve the matter
informally."). Indeed, in Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218,
227-28 (3d Cir. 2004), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals
recognized the significance in identifying the relevant facts and
persons in order to bring a subsequent federal lawsuit:
On this matter, the text is mandatory, or nearly so . . .
To the extent that Brown's identity is a "fact 
relevant to the claim." and it is it was
mandatory for Spruill to include it. To the extent
that Brown was a "person  who may have information"
or someone with whom Spruill made "attempts to
resolve the matter informally" and he was Spruill
was required to identify Brown if practicable.
Spruill, 372 F.3d at 234. Moreover, the exhaustion requirement
of § 1997e(a) is not satisfied simply "whenever there is no
further process available to the inmate within the grievance
system (which would happen if, say, an inmate fails to file an
administrative appeal). . . ." Spruill, 372 F.3d at 227-28.
Rather, § 1997e(a) requires that an inmate "avail himself of
every process at every turn (which would require all appeals to
be timely pursued, etc.)." Id.
In applying the above analysis to the factual background
surrounding this action, it is readily apparent that Plaintiff
has procedurally defaulted on his claims and summary judgment
will be granted in favor of the Defendants. Plaintiff's grievance
was returned to him because issues relating to Inmate
Disciplinary and Restricted Housing Unit Procedures, as well as
Administrative Custody, are to be grieved through Department of
Corrections Administrative Directives specifically designed for
those issues. Further, the remainder of Plaintiff's grievance was
untimely filed. (Rec. Doc. 15, Ex. B). The record discloses that
Eakle failed to either resubmit a grievance pursuant to the
appropriate Administrative Directive, or timely file an appeal
from the Grievance Coordinator's decision. Thus, Eakle has
sustained a procedural default under the applicable Pennsylvania
Spruill cited with approval the Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals decision in Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025
(7th Cir. 2002). See Spruill, 372 F.3d at 231. In Pozo, the
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "to exhaust remedies,
a prisoner must file complaints and appeals in the place, and at
the time, the prison's administrative rules require." Pozo,
286 F.3d at 1025 (emphasis added). Eakle offers no justification
for his failure to resubmit a grievance in accordance with the
appropriate Department of Corrections Directive, or file an
appeal therefrom, within the deadline set by regulation. Thus,
Eakle is now foreclosed from litigating this claim in this Court.
In Spruill, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that a
procedural default component to the exhaustion requirement served
the following congressional objectives: "(1) to return control of
the inmate grievance process to prison administrators; (2) to
encourage development of administrative record, and perhaps
settlements, within the inmate grievance process; and (3) to
reduce the burden on the federal courts by erecting barriers to
frivolous prisoner lawsuits." 372 F.3d at 230. In Pusey v.
Belanger, No. Civ. 02-351, 2004 WL 2075472 at *2-3 (D. Del.
Sept. 14, 2004), the court applied Spruill to dismiss an
inmate's action for failure to timely pursue an administrative
remedy over the inmate's objection that he did not believe the
administrative remedy program operating in Delaware covered his
grievance. In Berry v. Kerik, 366 F.3d 85, 86-88 (2d Cir.
2004), the court affirmed the dismissal of an inmate's action
with prejudice where the inmate had failed to offer appropriate
justification for the failure to timely pursue administrative
grievances. In Ross v. County of Bernalillo, 365 F.3d 1181,
1186 (10th Cir. 2004), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
embraced the holding in Pozo, stating that "[a] prison
procedure that is procedurally barred and thus is unavailable to
a prisoner is not thereby considered exhausted." These precedents
support dismissal of this action due to Eakle's failure to pursue
his administrative remedies with respect to his claims.
Accordingly, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. Defendants' Motion (doc. 13) is GRANTED.
Judgment is hereby entered in favor of Defendants and
against the Plaintiff.
2. Plaintiff's Motion (doc. 17) is DENIED.
3. The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this
4. Any appeal taken from this order will be deemed
frivolous, without probable cause, and not taken in
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