Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Harris v. Wingard

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 29, 2017

WILLIAM HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
TREVOR WINGARD AND MAJOR WADSWORTH, Defendants.

         ECF, 82.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Lisa Pupo Lenihan, United States Magistrate Judge.

         For the reasons stated herein, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue of exhaustion will be granted and the case dismissed with prejudice.

         Plaintiff, William Harris initiated the instant action with the filing of a Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis on November 16, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) After the motion was granted, his Complaint was docketed on December 3, 2015. (ECF No. 3.) Plaintiff later filed an Amended Complaint on July 19, 2016. (ECF No. 55.) Discovery ensued. Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgement solely on the issue of exhaustion. (ECF No. 82.)

         I. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Plaintiff is an inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Fayette (SCI-Fayette) and formerly at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset (SCI-Somerset). See, generally, Def.'s State of Mat. Facts (ECF No. 83 at p.1.) Plaintiff made a number of claims in his Amended Complaint, including but not limited to, placement in two cells with bent bedframes, false misconducts, and the seizure of his legal property. (ECF No. 55.) All claims were dismissed by this court except for the claim against Defendants Wingard and Wadsworth of a transfer from SCI-Somerset to SCI-Fayette on March 17, 2015 in retaliation for filing several grievances at SCI-Somerset. Pl.'s Am. Compl. (ECF No. 68).

         In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff makes several factual allegations with regard to the alleged retaliatory treatment and transfer. On March 6, 2015 Plaintiff avers that he was told he was being sent to SCI-Fayette. When he asked why he was told “you'll find out when you get there.” He avers that this statement (and the transfer) was made in retaliation for his filing of grievances. Id. at ¶ 6. Plaintiff further claims that on March 20, 2015 he was given documents containing disciplinary hearing results with sanctions by an unknown Restricted Housing Unit Officer. Id. at ¶ 5. When he asked what the documents were about, the Officer allegedly said, “It's what you get for filing grievances.” Id.

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff's retaliatory transfer claim against Defendants Wingard and Wadsworth should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to comply with the administrative exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a). The Act states that an inmate is required to exhaust their available administrative remedies before filing a federal lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Id. Specifically, PLRA provides:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title by a prisoner confined in jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administration remedies as are available are exhausted.

Id. The United States Supreme Court has held that, “the PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong.” Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). Additionally, Congress has clearly mandated exhaustion, “regardless of the relief offered through administrative procedures.” Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001).

         Courts have concluded that inmates who fail to comply with the prison grievance process are barred from litigating those claims in federal courts, as proper exhaustion of administrative remedies is a “prerequisite” to a suit in federal court. Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 222 (3d Cir. 2004).

         According to the Supreme Court, “proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the course of its proceedings.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 89-90 (2006). Such requirements “eliminate unwarranted federal court interference with the administration of prisons, and thus seek[] to affor[d] corrections officials time and opportunity to address complaints internally before allowing the initiation of a federal case.” Id. at 93.

         Even if the Plaintiff makes claims that the filing of a grievance would be futile for various reasons, the Third Circuit has held that, “the futility exception is not applicable in any case.” Nyhuis v. Reno, 204 F.3d 65, 72 (3d Cir. 2000). Therefore, it does not matter whether or not the Plaintiff believes that the filing of a grievance would be ineffective. Id. at 78. Rather, he must continue to exhaust his administrative remedies when available to him. Id.

         II. Plaintiff Failed to Exhaust ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.