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Shoults v. White

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

October 1, 2018

ADAM B. SHOULTS, PLAINTIFF
v.
RANDY WHITE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court upon a motion for summary judgment by Defendant's Randy White, Troy Belt, Brendan English, Jesse Coombs, James Smith, and Michael Pillion (collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff Adam Shoults has not filed a response to the motion, and the time to do so has passed. Defendant's motion is ripe for review, and for the following reasons, it is GRANTED IN PART, and DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate at Green River Correctional Complex. (DN 23). Plaintiff initiated this action on September 13, 2017, by filing a complaint against five KSP officials. On December 7, 2017, the court conducted its first screening of the complaint and directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint to clarify in what capacities he sought to sue each Defendant and what claims he sought to bring against each Defendant (DN 9). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on January 8, 2018 (DN 10). On January 31, 2018, the Court conducted its second screening based upon a combined reading of the original complaint and the amended complaint (DN 14). In its second screening, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's official-capacity claims for damages but allowed Plaintiffs official capacity claims for injunctive relief to continue (DN 14 at 5). The Court was satisfied that Plaintiff intended to sue Defendants White, Belt, English, and Coombs in their individual capacities for failure to protect and retaliation and therefore allowed these claims to continue (DN 14 at 5).

         In his complaints, Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants placed restraints on another inmate incorrectly so that the inmate would be able to free himself of the restraints and attack Plaintiff (DN 1 and 10). Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants' actions were in retaliation for a lawsuit that he had filed against the Defendants in Lyon County (DN 1 and 10). Plaintiff also alleges that he was being kept in segregation by the Defendants in retaliation for the Lyon County complaint (DN 1 and 10). Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief in the form of release from segregation.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate where “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).

         “[N]ot every issue of fact or conflicting inference presents a genuine issue of material fact.” Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1477 (6th Cir.1989). The test is whether the party bearing the burden of proof has presented a jury question as to each element in the case. Hartsel v. Keys, 87 F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir.1996). The plaintiff must present more than a mere scintilla of evidence in support of his position; the plaintiff must present evidence on which the trier of fact could reasonably find for the plaintiff. See id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). Mere speculation will not suffice to defeat a motion for summary judgment: “the mere existence of a colorable factual dispute will not defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. A genuine dispute between the parties on an issue of material fact must exist to render summary judgment inappropriate.” Moinette v. Elec. Data Sys. Corp., 90 F.3d 1173, 1177 (6th Cir.1996).

         DISCUSSION

         (a) Abandonment of Claims

         Defendants argue that several of Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed because, although Plaintiff did raise them in his original complaint, he did not assert them in his amended complaint. The Court will not dismiss any of these claims on the theory that Plaintiff has abandoned them. Instead, the Court will engage in a combined reading of Plaintiff's complaint and amended complaint to determine whether defendant has established the absence of a dispute of material fact. A combined reading of the complaints is consistent with the maxim that complaints filed by pro se parties are to be liberally construed and is a regular practice in the Western District of Kentucky. See (DN 14); Daugherty v. K.S.P. Medical Department, et al, No. 5:17-CV-P41-TBR, 2017 WL 2910610 (W.D. Ky. 2017); Martinez v. Bolton, No. 3:17-CV-P265-DJH, 2017 WL 2989185 (W.D. Ky 2017); Downer v. Bolton, No. 3:17-CV-P341-CRS, 2017 WL 3485009 (W.D. Ky 2017). Therefore, the Court exercises its discretion to read the Plaintiff's complaint and amended complaint together in deciding Defendant's motion.

         (b) Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

         Defendants argue that they are entitled to judgement as a matter of law because Plaintiff has failed to exhaust the administrative remedies that were available to him. The Court will grant the motion for summary judgment on the segregation claims and all claims against Randy White, Troy Belt, Jesse Coombs, James Smith, and Michael Pillion. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) bars a civil rights action challenging prison conditions until the prisoner exhausts “such administrative remedies as are available.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see also Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. at 211, 127 S.Ct. 910 (2007) (“There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court”). “[T]he PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether the allege excessive force or some other wrong.” Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002).

         In order to exhaust administrative remedies, prisoners must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the deadlines and other applicable procedural rules established by state law. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218-19, 127 S.Ct. 910. (2007) “Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90, 126 S.Ct. 2378, 165 L.Ed.2d 368 (2006). Importantly, however, “failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the PLRA is an affirmative defense that must be established by the defendants.” Napier v. Laurel Cty. Ky., 636 F.3d 218, 225 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Jones, 549 U.S. at 204, 127 S.Ct. 910 (2007)). ‚ÄúSummary judgment is appropriate only if ...


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