United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
ROBERT ALLEN RAMIREZ B.O.P. # 34540-177
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE OAKDALE, ET AL.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KATHLEEN KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. 142] filed
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
by Isiah Williams, Thomas Voisine, Caleb Gotreaux, and
Roberto Rodriguez-Leon (collectively,
“defendants”), defendants in this matter and
employees at the Federal Correctional Institute at Oakdale,
Louisiana (“FCIO”). This motion is filed in response
to the civil rights action filed by Robert Allen Ramirez
(“plaintiff”), who is proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis in this matter. Plaintiff is
an inmate in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons and is
currently incarcerated at the Medical Center for Federal
Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He opposes the motion
[doc. 147] and defendants have filed a reply [doc. 152].
matter has been referred to the undersigned for review,
report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions
of 28 U.S.C. § 636. For the following reasons,
IT IS RECOMMENDED that the defendants'
motion [doc. 142] be DENIED as to the
restroom access claim and GRANTED as to the
stretcher claim, with the stretcher claim DISMISSED
WITH PREJUDICE. IT IS ALSO
RECOMMENDED that FCIO be dismissed from the suit due
to plaintiff's failure to raise a claim against it.
Adoption of this report and recommendation will result in
dismissal of FCIO, Gotreaux, and Voisine from the suit.
October 17, 2013, plaintiff allegedly slipped and injured his
leg while on a work detail at the UNICOR factory at FCIO.
Doc. 24, att. 1, p. 2; doc. 142, att. 2, p. 2
(defendants' list of undisputed facts). Plaintiff told
prison personnel that he could not walk and was assigned a
wheelchair. Doc. 142, att. 2, p. 2. In the first week
of December, while plaintiff was still using a wheelchair,
the restroom on the first floor of his housing unit, Vernon
I, was closed for repairs. Doc. 1, att. 2, p. 1');">p. 1; doc. 102,
pp. 2-3. According to plaintiff, he advised defendants
Rodriguez-Leon and Williams, officers at FCIO, that because
of his leg injury he could not climb the stairs to access the
upper-level restrooms. Doc. 1, att. 2, pp. 1');">p. 1-2. However, he
contends, prison personnel failed to move him to another unit
or otherwise accommodate him, forcing him to climb the stairs
to access an available restroom. Id.; doc. 102, pp.
night of December 9, 2013, plaintiff allegedly fell and
injured himself while descending the Vernon I unit stairs
after using the upper level restroom. Doc. 1, att. 2, p. 2;
doc. 102, p. 3. Plaintiff alleges that defendants Gotreaux,
Williams, and Voisine responded to the call that an inmate
was down, though only Gotreaux and Williams state that they
recall the incident. Doc. 24, p. 4; doc. 142, atts. 3-5.
Plaintiff asserts that defendants Gotreaux and Voisine
aggressively placed him back into his wheelchair, though they
deny this and Voisine states that his own back problems would
have prevented him from lifting an inmate from the floor.
Doc. 24, p. 4; see doc. 142, att. 2, p. 3; doc. 142,
att. 5, p. 2. Defendant Gotreaux escorted plaintiff to a
local hospital that night where plaintiff was diagnosed with
a lumbar sprain/strain and then released back to the prison.
Doc. 142, att. 3, p. 2; doc. 42, pp. 9-10 (hospital records).
filed a Bivens suit in this court on October 9, 2014,
with several amendments since that time, asserting that the
above actions of defendants violated his constitutional
rights and that he is entitled to damages and injunctive
relief. Doc. 1; doc. 1, att. 2. Defendants now
move for summary judgment, alleging that plaintiff has failed
to exhaust his administrative remedies as required under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act and that, alternatively, the
record is devoid of any evidence that they committed a
constitutional violation against plaintiff.
should grant a motion for summary judgment when 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. The party moving for
summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying
portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V
Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must
deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to
meet this burden. Id.
movant makes this showing, however, the burden then shifts to
the non-moving party to “set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2511 (1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than
mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's
pleadings. Instead, the nonmovant must submit
“significant probative evidence” in support of
his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman,
896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). Neither conclusory
allegations nor unsubstantiated assertions will satisfy the
movant's burden. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37
F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994 (en banc). “If the
evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted.”
Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2511 (citations omitted).
may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence
in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 120 S.Ct. 2097, 2110
(2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Clift v.
Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this
standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a
reasonable trier of fact could render a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322,
326 (5th Cir. 2008).
PLRA and Exhaustion
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), an
inmate is required to exhaust available administrative
remedies before filing a suit based on prison conditions. 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Porter v. Nussle, 122
S.Ct. 983, 988 (2002) (extending the exhaustion requirement
to Bivens suits). Exhaustion is mandatory for all
suits about prison life, whether they involve complaints
about general circumstances or particular episodes.
Alexander v. Tippah Cty., Miss., 351 F.3d 626, 630
(5th Cir. 2003). Exhaustion means “proper exhaustion,
” including compliance with all administrative
deadlines and procedures. Woodford v. Ngo, 126 S.Ct.
2378, 2384-87 (2006). The Fifth Circuit takes “a strict
approach” to the exhaustion requirement. Days v.
Johnson, 322 F.3d 863, 866 (5th Cir. 2003),
overruled on other grounds, Woodford, 126
S.Ct. at 2385. Courts have no discretion to waive this
requirement and dismissal is required when the inmate fails
to exhaust before filing suit. Gonzalez v. Seal, 702
F.3d 785, 788 (5th Cir. 2012).
administrative remedy program (“ARP”) for federal
inmates is provided at 28 C.F.R. § 542.10 et
seq., and includes a three-step formal process. The
inmate files an informal resolution attempt (BP-8), though
there are several cases in which this is not required. 28
C.F.R. § 542.13. The first formal step of the ARP is the
filing of a written administrative remedy request (BP-9) with
the warden. Id. at § 542.14. The BP-9 must be
filed within 20 days of the incident. Id. at §
542.14. If the inmate is dissatisfied with the warden's
response, he may file an appeal (BP-10) with the appropriate
regional director within 20 days of the warden's
response. Id. at § 542.15(a). An
inmate who is not satisfied with the regional director's
response may submit an appeal (BP-11) to the general counsel
within 30 days of that response. Id. Appeal to the
general counsel is the final step of the ARP. Id.
The deadlines described above may be extended if the inmate
can show valid reason for his delay in filing. Id.
at §§ 542.15(a), 542.14(b).
is not exhausted through the administrative remedy procedure
unless it is presented with sufficient detail to
“give officials a fair opportunity to address the
problem that will later form the basis of the lawsuit.”
Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503, 517 (5th Cir.
2004). Inmates who begin the administrative remedy grievance
process and then halt it prematurely have not properly
exhausted their administrative remedies, and ...