United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge
plaintiff Mecquon Goodwin, a prisoner incarcerated at the
John C. Burke Correctional Center, is proceeding on Eighth
Amendment claims against medical staff at four of his prior
prisons. Goodwin contends that defendants denied him medical
care despite his complaints about serious conditions with his
left leg. Dkt. 1. Two motions are pending before this court:
(1) defendants' motion for partial summary judgment; and
(2) Goodwin's motion for the court's assistance in
recruiting counsel. I will deny both.
Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment
defendants who worked at three of Goodwin's four previous
prisons-the Racine Correctional Institution, the Kettle
Moraine Correctional Institution, and the Oakhill
Correctional Institution-move for partial summary judgment
for Goodwin's failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
Dkt. 25. Goodwin did not file grievances at those prisons.
But he contends that a grievance filed at the first prison,
the Jackson Correctional Institution, apprised prison
officials of the problem at issue in this case: the denial of
medical care for his leg.
familiar summary judgment standards govern defendants'
motion. Defendants must show that there is no genuine issue
of material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). All reasonable
inferences from the facts in the summary judgment record must
be drawn in the nonmoving party's favor. Baron v.
City of Highland Park, 195 F.3d 333, 338 (7th Cir.
deny defendants' motion without prejudice. Defendants
have not established that Goodwin was required to file a new
grievance every time he moved to a new prison. But the record
has not been fully developed, so it is premature to determine
whether the medical conditions at issue in this case all
relate to the general medical problem with Goodwin's leg
that he raised at Jackson. Defendants may raise the issue of
exhaustion later in the case once the record is developed on
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a prisoner must exhaust
administrative remedies before suing in court. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a). The exhaustion of administrative remedies is
mandatory. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006);
Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002). Failure
to exhaust requires dismissal of the prisoner's case.
Perez v. Wisconsin Dept. of Corr., 182 F.3d 532, 535
(7th Cir. 1999). On the other hand, “[i]f
administrative remedies are not ‘available' to an
inmate, then the inmate cannot be required to exhaust.”
Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006).
The prisoner's failure to exhaust “is an
affirmative defense that a defendant has the burden of
proving.” King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 893
(7th Cir. 2015).
exhaustion issue here is complicated because Goodwin was
transferred among multiple prisons during the relevant
period. Goodwin filed a grievance at his first prison and
complained that he had a serious medical condition with his
leg. Goodwin then moved to three other prisons. Was Goodwin
required to file a new grievance each time he moved to a new
prison to satisfy the exhaustion requirement under the PLRA?
I conclude that the answer is no, at least not necessarily.
PLRA leaves it to the individual states to establish their
own administrative remedies and grievance procedures.
Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1023 (7th Cir.
2002). In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Administrative Code
established a centralized system, the Inmate Complaint Review
System (ICRS), through which all state prisoners submit their
grievances. Wis. Admin. Code DOC §§ 310.04, 310.07.
The Wisconsin Administrative Code also governs when the
grievances should be submitted through the ICRS and how they
are handled, Wis. Admin. Code DOC §§ 310.01-18, but
it does not expressly require inmates to file a new grievance
each time he moves to a new facility. Defendants do not cite
any provision showing such a requirement.
the case law does not impose such a requirement. Generally,
inmates “need not file multiple, successive grievances
raising the same issue” when “the objectionable
condition is continuing.” Turley v. Rednour,
729 F.3d 645, 650 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Parzyck v.
Prison Health Servs. Inc., 627 F.3d 1215, 1219 (11th
Cir. 2010) (prisoner “not required to initiate another
round of the administrative grievance process on the exact
same issue each time” a deprivation occurred). The
inmate must file separate grievances only if “the
underlying facts or the complaints are different.”
Id., 729 F.3d at 650 (citations omitted).
to a new prison does not excuse an inmate from exhausting the
available remedies. See, e.g., Flournoy v. Schomig,
152 F. App'x 535, 538 (7th Cir. 2005) (“The
transfer therefore had no effect on his ability to follow
through with the emergency grievance. And although Flournoy
argues generally that waiting for an answer to the
inter-facility grievance was futile, he had to give the
system a chance.” (citations omitted)); Lee v.
Yu, No. 12 C 4555, 2014 WL 4819152, at *7 (N.D. Ill.
Sept. 2, 2014) (“Many courts hold that the mere fact of
a transfer does not affect a prisoner's obligation to
exhaust his administrative remedies before filing
suit.” (collecting cases)).
the other hand, I have found no authority to suggest that an
inmate must necessarily file a new grievance when he is
transferred to a new prison. The general rule that an inmate
need not file multiple grievances raising the same issue
still applies. Of course, some inmate complaints will be
solved by transfer to a new prison. If, for example, if the
inmate's complaint is that Dr. X is disregarding the
inmate's knee pain, transfer to a new prison with
entirely different health care staff will typically end the
problem. But if the complaint is that the DOC refused to
authorize knee surgery, then transfer to a new prison would
not end the problem, and a filing a new grievance would be
quote King v. McCarty, where the Seventh Circuit
stated, “In the absence of state law provisions to the
contrary, prisoners . . . must direct their grievances to the
entity allegedly responsible for the conditions they wish to
challenge.” 781 F.3d 889, 894 (7th Cir. 2015). In
King, an inmate had moved from a county jail to a
state prison, each with its own grievance procedure. 781 F.3d
at 894. The Seventh Circuit thus considered which of the two
grievance procedures the inmate had to satisfy and held that
the exhaustion analysis was governed by the procedure of the
county jail because the jail was the entity responsible for
the challenged condition. Id. Thus,
“directing” a grievance at the “entity
responsible” meant that the inmate must satisfy the
grievance procedure of the entity responsible for the
challenged condition. But that's not really the issue
here, as defendants seem to recognize.
prison policy makes the exhaustion “practically
impossible, ” then the court may not dismiss the
inmate's claims for failure to exhaust. Id. at
895-96. Here, Goodwin argues that the administrative remedy
was unavailable because he had already filed a grievance at
his previous prison raising the issue. If he had filed new
grievances at his new prisons, he says, those grievances
would have been rejected. Goodwin's subjective belief is
irrelevant. Perez, 182 F.3d at 536 (“[W]hat
would be the point of asking judges to be seers? . . . No one
can know whether administrative requests will be futile; the
only way to find out is to try.”). But it appears that
Goodwin has a point. In Wisconsin, although each prison
appoints its own complaint examiner, the ...