United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah
DAMIEN A. SUBLETT, PLAINTIFF
LINDA S. GREEN, CHRIS HATTON, JON TANGEROSE, DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AN ORDER
B. Russell, Senior Judge
matter is before the Court upon a motion by Defendants, Linda
Green, Chris Hatton, and Jon Tangerose
(“Defendants”), for summary judgment. [DN 33].
Plaintiff, Damien Sublett, has responded to the motion. [DN
37]. The Defendants have filed their reply. [DN 38]. Fully
briefed, Defendants' motion is ripe for review, and for
the following reasons, it is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
Plaintiff in this case, Damien Sublett, is an inmate at
Little Sandy Correctional Complex (“LSCC”).
Defendant Linda Green was the Unit Administrator of the
Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”) at Western
Kentucky Correctional Complex (“WKCC”) during the
period relevant to this action. [DN 33-7]. Defendant Jon
Tangerose is a Unit Administrator at WKCC, sometimes serves
as a grievance coordinator, and sometimes supervises the
inmate legal library. [DN 33-9]. Defendant Chris Hatton is
the Deputy Warden of Programs for WKCC. [DN 33-6]. Plaintiff
filed this action on August 3, 2017 under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claiming that Defendants violated several of his
constitutional rights. [DN 33-1 at 1]. Before being
transferred to LSCC, Plaintiff was an inmate at WKCC.
Id. During his time at WKCC, Plaintiff spent some
time in the RHU where he was in contact with the Defendants
in this case. [DN 6 at 2]. Damien Sublett is a prolific
filer. Plaintiff had at least six civil actions against
prison officials working their way through the courts while
he was housed in RHU. [DN 1-1 at 1-2]. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants in this case took adverse action against him in
retaliation for these civil actions and grievances against
prison officials. [DN 6; DN 18; DN 25]. More specifically,
Plaintiff claims that Defendants unlawfully limited his
access to legal resources. Id. Plaintiff also claims
that one of his grievances against a prison official was
wrongfully rejected. Id. Defendants have now filed a
motion for summary judgment. [DN 33]. For the following
reasons, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is
GRANTED IN PART, and DENIED IN PART.
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).
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).
case involves a series of complaints, supplements to
complaints, and amended complaints by Plaintiff where many of
the parties have changed, and the claims brought by Plaintiff
have also changed. In his Amended Complaint [DN 18],
Plaintiff states that: “The only Defendants in the
above style action are as follow; Jon Tangerose, Linda S.
Green and Chris Hatton; first Amendment retaliation.”
[DN 18-1 at 5]. Therefore, Plaintiff has abandoned all other
Supplemental and Amended Complaints, Plaintiff brings five
claims. First, Plaintiff claims that his “original
grievance” #8479 was not returned to him when he was
released from RHU back into the general prison population.
Second, Plaintiff claims that Tangerose wrongfully rejected
his “original grievance” #8479. Third, Plaintiff
claims that Tangerose, Green, and Hatton denied him access to
the legal library and use of the LexisNexis computer. Fourth,
Plaintiff claims that he gave two affidavits to a prison
official to make copies, but the affidavits were never
returned to him. Finally, Plaintiff argues that, on July 10,
2017, Green directed prison officials to enter
Plaintiff's cell and confiscate all of Plaintiff's
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on each
claim for two reasons. First, Defendants argue that Plaintiff
has failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available
to him and therefore the Court must grant summary judgment to
Defendants pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42
U.S.C. § 1997e, et seq.. Under Woodford v. Ngo,
548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006), a court must dismiss a prisoner's
claim if he has failed to properly exhaust the administrative
remedies available to him. “[P]roper exhaustion of
administrative remedies . . . means using all steps that the
agency holds out, and doing so properly (so that the agency
addresses the issues on the merits).” Id. at
90. “Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an
agency's deadlines and other critical procedures. . .
case, Plaintiff must grieve each of his claims in compliance
with Kentucky Corrections Policies and Procedures
(“CPP”) 14.6. Most important to this case is the
CPP's requirement that the grievant “shall include
all aspects of the issue and identify all individuals in the
‘Brief Statement of the Problem' section of the
written grievance so that all problems concerning the issue
or individuals may be dealt with during step 1.” CPP
14.6(II)(J)(5) (emphasis added). The Sixth Circuit has
interpreted this requirement as follows:
[W]e would not require a prisoner's grievance to allege a
specific legal theory or facts that correspond to all the
required elements of a particular legal theory. Rather, it is
sufficient for a court to find that a prisoner's
grievance gave prison officials fair notice of the alleged
mistreatment or misconduct that forms the basis of the
constitutional or statutory claim made against a defendant in
a prisoner's complaint.
Bell v. Konteh, 450 F.3d 651, 654 (6th Cir. 2006)
(citation omitted) (emphasis added). In other words,
“[a] grievance must provide notice of the problem at
hand. . . .” Pruitt v. Holland, No.
10-CV-111-HRW, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 621, 2011 WL 13653, at
*5 (E.D. Ky. 2011) (citing Griffin v. Arpaio, 557
F.3d 1117, 1120 (9th Cir. 2009)). “Summary judgment is
appropriate only if defendants establish the absence of a
‘genuine dispute as to any material fact' regarding
non-exhaustion.” Risher v. Lappin 639 F.3d
236, 240 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)).
Defendants argue that even if Plaintiff has exhausted his
remedies, he has failed to raise a dispute of material fact
regarding each element of his retaliation claims. “In a
retaliation claim . . . the harm suffered is the adverse
consequences which flow from the inmate's
constitutionally protected action. Instead of being denied
access to the courts, the prisoner is penalized for actually
exercising that right.” Thaddeus-X v. Blatter,
174 F.3d 378, 394 (6th Cir. 1999) (en banc) (emphasis in
A retaliation claim essentially entails three elements: (1)
the plaintiff engaged in protected conduct; (2) an adverse
action was taken against the plaintiff that would deter a
person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in that
conduct; and (3) there is a causal connection between
elements one and two-that is, the adverse ...