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Mays v. Kentucky Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

September 25, 2018



          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge

         This matter is before the Court upon a motion by Defendants Webb Strang, Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., David Herndon, and Amanda L. Mason (hereafter “Defendants”) for summary judgment based upon Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies (DN 43). For the following reasons, the Court will deny this motion.


         Pro se Plaintiff Paul Harrison Mays, Jr., was accused of failing a urinalysis taken by officials at Dismas Charities, Portland Halfway House, on January 5, 2016. This urine sample allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine and morphine. As a result of this allegedly positive drug screen, Plaintiff was transported to Luther Luckett Correctional Complex (LLCC) for disciplinary proceedings.

         On March 15, 2016, LLCC official Defendant Rodriguez initiated two disciplinary reports for Plaintiff stating that the urine sample taken by Dismas Charities in January had tested positive for methamphetamine and morphine. On March 19, 2016, LLCC official Defendant Mason read these reports to Plaintiff and Plaintiff stated that he had never been drug tested while he was at “Dismas Portland.” On April 20, 2016, a disciplinary hearing was conducted before LLCC official Defendant Herndon. Defendant Herndon found Plaintiff guilty of two counts of the “unauthorized use of drugs or intoxicants” despite Plaintiff's arguments that his due process rights had been violated due to various chain of custody issues with the urinalysis. Defendant Herndon sentenced Plaintiff to the loss of 60 days of good-time credits for each count. Plaintiff appealed this guilty decision to LLCC “Acting Warden” Defendant Strang, but on May 19, 2016, Defendant Strang upheld Defendant Herndon's guilty decision finding that Plaintiff's due process rights had not been violated.

         On August 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding his disciplinary conviction and the underlying urinalysis. This grievance mentioned both Defendants Herndon and Strang but did not mention Defendants Rodriguez or Mason. On August 11, 2016, this grievance was rejected as “non-grievable.”

         On October 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed a petition for the declaration of his rights in state court.[1] On April 19, 2017, the Oldham Circuit Court overturned Plaintiff's LLCC conviction. The court found that internal chain of custody from the laboratory showed that the “aliquot, ” or division of the sample, occurred after the testing of the sample. The court further found that there was “absolutely no explanation for [this] error” and that it was “unwilling to accept the facts without any explanation whatsoever as to the seemingly incorrect chain of custody.” The court ordered the restoration of Plaintiff's “good time and expungement of [his] record in regard to the positive urine tests collected from Dismas Charities.”

         In May 2017, Plaintiff initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action seeking damages for the violation of his right to due process.


         Before the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         The evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the Court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Nevertheless, the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Id. at 586. Instead, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. It is against this standard that the Court reviews the facts presented.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants argue that Defendants Rodriguez and Mason are entitled to judgment in their favor because Plaintiff did not name them in his grievance and, therefore, failed to exhaust his administrative remedies against them.

         There is no general requirement that a plaintiff must exhaust any available administrative remedies before bringing a claim for constitutional violations pursuant to § 1983. Patsy v. Bd. of Regents, 457 U.S. 496, 507 (1982). However, Congress created an exception to this rule for claims brought by prisoners when it passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” Failure to exhaust ...

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