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Kittle v. Boyd County Detention Center

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

December 19, 2013

ROGER KITTLE, JR., Plaintiff,


J. GREGORY WEHRMAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Roger Kittle, Jr. is an inmate currently housed at the Hopkins County Detention Center who is proceeding pro se in this 42 U.S.C. ยง1983 civil rights action which alleges mistreatment of plaintiff while he was housed at the Boyd County Detention Center ("the Detention Center"). In June 2013, the presiding district judge referred this matter for all further pretrial proceedings, including the preparation of a report and recommendation on all dispositive motions. Doc. 12.

Pending now is a motion to dismiss and/or for summary judgment filed by defendants Jeremy Hanshaw, Tom Jurta and Joe Burchett (collectively, "defendants"). Doc. 19. Plaintiff has not responded to the motion and the time for doing so under LR 7.1(c) has expired. After considering the record and applicable law, I recommend that defendants be granted summary judgment due to plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this action.[1]

I. Factual and Procedural History

In February 2013 plaintiff filed this pro se action against the Detention Center, Joe Burchett (the Boyd County Jailer), Jeremy Hanshaw (who was a deputy jailer at the Detention Center when the events at issue occurred) and Tom Jurta (Boyd County Chief Deputy Jailer), for alleged misconduct that occurred while plaintiff was housed at the Detention Center.[2] Doc. 1. The complaint was handwritten in narrative form but the Court construes it to contain four main cause of action: 1) while plaintiff was on suicide watch at the Detention Center, Burchett told plaintiff that he (Burchett) wished plaintiff would kill himself; 2) Hanshaw tackled defendant and held him down while another officer (not named) pepper sprayed defendant; 3) Jurta and Burchett made abusive and/or threatening statements to defendant while he was confined in a restraint chair; and 4) Jurta took defendant's mat and blanket and required him to sleep on a concrete floor.

In April 2013, Judge Wilhoit issued an order dismissing the Detention Center as a defendant because "a county jail or detention center is not an entity which may be sued." Doc. 7, p.1. In May 2013, defendants filed their answer. Doc. 11. Included within the answer were allegations that plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and that his claims consequently were barred by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). Id. at p. 3-4. Defendants deposed plaintiff on July 1, 2013 but there is no indication that plaintiff otherwise engaged in discovery. Defendants timely filed their motion for summary judgment on November 15, 2013.[3] Doc. 19.

II. Analysis

A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper only if the facts on file with the court demonstrate that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party may discharge its burden by "pointing out... an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must identify specific facts that remain in dispute for the finder of fact at trial. See id. at 324. Although all inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986), the nonmoving party must present significant and probative evidence in support of its complaint. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986).

The court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matters asserted, but to determine whether a genuine issue of material fact remains for a fact finder at trial. Id. at 249. The inquiry is whether the evidence presents a "sufficient disagreement to require submission [of the case] to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 251-52. "The Court... cannot automatically grant the summary judgment motion merely because [the opposing party] has not filed a response in opposition." United States v. Bennett, 2008 WL 4510256, at *1 (E.D.Tenn. Oct. 1, 2008).[4] However, the court reviewing a summary judgment motion need not search the record in an effort to establish the lack of genuinely disputed material facts. Guarino v. Brookfield Township Trustees, 980 F.2d 399, 404 (6th Cir. 1992). Rather, the burden is on the nonmoving party to present affirmative evidence to defeat a properly supported motion, Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir. 1989), and to designate specific facts that are in dispute. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250; Guarino, 980 F.2d at 404-05.

B. Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Defendants contend plaintiff's claims should be dismissed because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this action. The Court agrees.

Jurta's affidavit, which is uncontradicted, explains that the Detention Center does have a grievance policy. Doc. 19-3, p.2. Jurta explains that the Detention Center's policy for filing a grievance is that "upon request a grievance form is delivered to the requesting inmate. Thereafter, the inmate delivers the grievance form to a correctional officer, who in turn, returns it to Deputy Damon Matthews, who then records same in the grievance register." Id.

In the section of his complaint regarding grievance procedures, defendant checked a box stating that he did not file a grievance but wrote "tried" next to it. Doc. 1, p. 5. At the bottom of that page he wrote "I tried, never would Bring Forms After I Asked." Id. ...

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