United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
HAROLD C. CHANDLER PLAINTIFF
LT. HAWKINS, et al. DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell, Senior Judge
matter is before the Court upon Defendants' motion to
dismiss Plaintiff Harold Chandler's pro se
complaint. [DN 14.] The Court ordered Chandler to respond to
Defendants' motion by February 13, 2017. [DN 17.] He did
not. Defendants' motion is therefore ripe for
adjudication. For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT
Facts and Procedural History
Harold Chandler is an inmate who was once housed at the
Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP) in Eddyville, Kentucky.
Accepting Chandler's well-pleaded factual allegations as
true, on September 10, 2015, inmates on Chandler's walk
began using their toilets to flood their cells. [DN 1 at 6.]
Chandler denies that he was one of the inmates responsible
for the flooding. [Id.] KSP officials responded to
the situation, and Lieutenant Hawkins ordered that all
inmates on the walk have their property confiscated.
[Id.] After KSP shut off the water in the offending
cells, Chandler and his fellow inmates were stripped naked
and put back in their cells. [Id. at 7.]
the next few hours, Chandler repeatedly asked prison
officials to flush the still-soiled toilets, but they
refused. [Id. at 7-11.] Chandler's complaint is
unclear regarding when the water was turned back on, but for
at least some amount of time, Chandler was without drinking
water and a functioning toilet. [Id.] Chandler was
also unable to wash his hands before meals, even though he
had been in contact with contaminated water. [Id.]
Additionally, the temperature dropped during the nights
immediately following the flooding incident, causing Chandler
to be cold and sick. [Id. at 8-9.] Chandler's
property and clothes were returned on September 14, four days
after the flooding. [Id. at 11.] He was not
permitted to clean his cell until September 23.
filed the instant suit. He alleges that Defendants, various
prison officials, violated his Eighth Amendment right to be
free from cruel and unusual punishment by turning off the
water to his cell, forcing him to sleep naked in cold
weather, requiring him to remain in unsanitary conditions,
and by depriving him of exercise and proper
nutrition. [Id. at 12.] His complaint names
Defendants in only their individual capacities. [Id.
Standard of Review
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In order to survive a
motion to dismiss under Civil Rule 12(b)(6), a party must
“plead enough factual matter to raise a
‘plausible' inference of wrongdoing.”
16630 Southfield Ltd. P'ship v. Flagstar
Bank, F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A
claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
(2007)). Should the well-pleaded facts support no “more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” then
dismissal is warranted. Id. at 679. The Court may
grant a motion to dismiss “only if, after drawing all
reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint
in favor of the plaintiff, the complaint still fails to
allege a plausible theory of relief.” Garceau v.
City of Flint, 572 F. App'x 369, 371 (6th Cir. 2014)
(citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-79).
claim that Chandler's claims are barred by 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The
PLRA requires a prisoner to exhaust all available
administrative remedies before filing any action “with
respect to prison conditions” under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 or any other federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
That 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); accord Freeman v.
Francis, 196 F.3d 641, 644 (6th Cir. 1999). Exhaustion
is mandatory and the remedies provided “need not meet
federal standards, nor must they be ‘plain, speedy, or
effective.'” Porter, 534 U.S. at 524
(quoting Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 739
(2001)). “Proper exhaustion demands compliance with
[the prison's] deadlines and other critical procedural
rules, ” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90
(2006), and so “it is the prison's requirements,
and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of proper
exhaustion, ” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218
(2007); accord Lee v. Wiley, 789 F.3d 673, 677 (6th
Defendants are entitled to dismissal of Chandler's suit
because they have shown that he failed to exhaust the
administrative remedies available to him at KSP. Chandler, a
“prisoner” as defined by the PLRA, was required
to exhaust his Eighth Amendment claims using KSP's
grievance procedures before bringing this suit. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1997e(a), (h); Richmond v. Settles, 450
F. App'x 448, 456-57 (6th Cir. 2011) (prisoner's
Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim could have
properly been dismissed because he failed to exhaust
administrative remedies). Of course, an inmate cannot be
required to exhaust administrative remedies regarding
non-grievable issues. See Ross v. Blake, __ U.S.__,
136 S.Ct. 1850, 1858-62 (2016); Owens v. Keeling,
461 F.3d 763, 769 (6th Cir. 2006); Figel v.
Bouchard, 89 F. App'x 970, 971 (6th Cir. 2004). But
pursuant to KSP's Inmate Grievance Procedure (IGP)
Chandler's complaints regarding prison conditions and
officials are indeed grievable. [DN 14-2 at 2.]
filed three grievances following the flooding incident. In
the first, Grievance No. 15-09-085-G, Chandler complained
that he was stripped of his property during the cold weather
and was deprived of water to his cell. [DN 1-1 at 4.] He
requested that Lieutenant Hawkins be suspended without pay or
be assigned to work in the guard tower. [Id.] That
grievance was rejected because Chandler asked for
inappropriate action to be taken. [Id. at 2;
see DN 14-2 at 8 (allowing Grievance Coordinator to
reject noncompliant grievance).] Chandler did not re-file his
grievance in an appropriate manner. As this Court has
previously noted, failure to re-file a rejected grievance
does not constitute exhaustion of administrative remedies.
Grimes v. Aramark Correctional Servs. Co., No.
5:10-CV-43, 2011 WL 4453154, at *2 (citing Napier v.
Laurel Cnty., Ky., 636 F.3d 218, 222 (6th Cir. 2011)).
second grievance, 15-09-086-G, was based upon KSP's
failure to flush his toilet and its requirement that he eat
his meals in the unsanitary conditions of his cell. [DN 1-1
at 11.] This grievance was rejected as well because it was
related to the flooding incident which formed the basis of a
disciplinary report against Chandler. [Id. at 8.] As
such, Chandler was required to seek relief through the
adjustment committee process. [Id.] However,
following the disciplinary proceedings, he did not pursue a
timely administrative appeal to the warden, as KSP's
Adjustment Procedures and Programs required him to do.
See [DN 14-3; DN 14-4.] This grievance was not
administratively exhausted, either.
Chandler filed Grievance No. 15-09-087-G. See [DN
1-1 at 7.] There, he states that he was refused a shower by a
correctional officer named either “Gray” or
“Bray.” [DN 1-1 at 7.] No such person is named as
a defendant in this suit. Additionally, this third grievance
was also rejected because Chandler asked for the improper
sanction of suspension or reassignment. [Id. at 5.]
This grievance, like the first, was ...