United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District
Dennis Vele filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging Defendants Randall Wright, Randall
Giese, and Stephen Borroughs, former Shawano County
Sheriff's Department employees, violated his
constitutional rights. This matter is before the court on the
defendants' motion for summary judgment. Vele responded
to the motion on February 7, 2017. The defendants have
indicated that they do not intend to file a reply brief, thus
this matter is ripe for resolution. For the following
reasons, I conclude that Vele failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. The defendants' motion will
therefore be granted and the case will be dismissed.
an inmate at Shawano County Jail, originally filed this
action in the Western District of Wisconsin against eight
defendants. Vele's original complaint violated Rule 20 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by asserting multiple
claims that could not be joined in one lawsuit. Vele then
filed an amended complaint, as well as a motion to transfer
the case to the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Since his
amended complaint concerns staff and events at Shawano County
Jail, the court found that change of venue was proper under
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and granted Vele's motion under
28 U.S.C. § 1406.
amended complaint relates to an elbow injury he sustained on
December 28, 2012. Vele was required to make an appearance at
the Shawano County Courthouse that day. Deputy Randall Giese
was tasked with walking Vele across the street to the
courthouse. Defs.' Proposed Findings of Fact at ¶ 6,
ECF No. 49. Vele was placed in handcuffs and a waist band.
While walking to court, Vele slipped on some ice and fell,
spraining his elbow. Id. at ¶ 15. Vele claims
Deputy Giese violated his constitutional rights by refusing
to escort Vele to court in a wheelchair.
also asserts that Jail Administrator Borroughs and Sheriff
Wright failed to properly investigate his complaints, in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According
to Borroughs, as the Jail Administrator, he was responsible
for handling and responding to inmate complaints. Any
dissatisfaction with Borroughs' handling of complaints
needed to be addressed in a written appeal to Sheriff Wright.
Id. at ¶ 24. Vele does not dispute that the
Shawano County Jail had such a policy for handling inmate
complaints and that he failed to comply with it.
did file numerous complaints regarding his medical treatment
and his disagreement with the medical staff. Borroughs
promptly responded in writing to Vele's complaints.
However, because all of Vele's complaints related to his
medical care, Borroughs promptly forwarded copies of the
complaints to the medical staff. Id. at ¶ 33.
During this time, pursuant to a written contract, all inmate
medical care was provided by Correctional Healthcare
Companies. Id. at ¶ 30. No Shawano County
employees-including Giese, Borroughs, and Wright-were
responsible for inmate medical care. Vele never filed a
complaint about Giese, Borroughs, or Wright. Even though the
appropriate forms were available, Vele never appealed
Borroughs' handling of his complaints.
judgment is appropriate when a moving party 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); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining whether
summary judgment is appropriate, a court must construe the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Ramos v. City of Chicago, 716 F.3d 1013, 1014 (7th
Cir. 2013). There is no genuine issue of material fact when
the parties agree to all the facts. See Carter v.
Buscher, 973 F.2d 1328, 1331 (7th Cir. 1992). Proposed
findings of fact that go uncontroverted are admitted and
treated as agreed upon by all parties for the purpose of
deciding summary judgment. See Civil L. R. 56(b)(4)
(“The Court will deem unconvtroverted statements of
material fact admitted solely for the purpose of deciding
summary judgment.”); see also Fed. R. Civ. P.
Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (heretofore
“PLRA”) provides that a prisoner cannot assert a
cause of action under federal law “until such
administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see also
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93 (2006) (holding that
the PLRA requires proper exhaustion of administrative
remedies). Exhaustion requires that a prisoner comply with
the rules applicable to the grievance process at the
inmate's institution. Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286
F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002). The failure to properly
exhaust each step of the process constitutes failure to
exhaust available administrative remedies. Id. This
requirement “applies to all inmate suits about prison
life, whether they involve general circumstances or
particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force
or some other wrong.” Porter v.
534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). The objective of § 1997e(a) is
to “permit the prison's administrative process to
run its course before litigation begins.” Dole v.
Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Cannon v. Washington, 418 F.3d 714, 719 (7th Cir.
2005)); see also Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684
(7th Cir. 2006). The Seventh Circuit applies a “strict
compliance approach to exhaustion, ” and expects
prisoners to adhere to “the specific procedures and
deadlines established by the prison's policy.”
Dole, 438 F.3d at 809; see also Hernandez v.
Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 842 (7th Cir. 2016) (citations
“must direct their grievances to the entity allegedly
responsible for the conditions they wish to challenge.”
King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 894 (7th Cir. 2015)
(citations omitted). According to Borroughs' declaration,
inmates are required to submit a complaint to Borroughs for
review. ECF No. 48 at ¶ 4. When an inmate is unsatisfied
with Borroughs' decision regarding the complaint, he must
submit a written appeal to the sheriff on the forms provided.
case, after Vele injured his elbow, he filed numerous
complaints with Borroughs regarding his medical treatment.
For instance, in one complaint, Vele writes that the medical
staff took his arm sling despite the fact that he wanted to
continue using it. ECF No. 45 at 15. Borroughs promptly
responded to Vele's complaints, noting that the nurse and
doctor from the Correctional Healthcare Companies were
responsible for Vele's medical care, and that Borroughs
lacked the authority to call their medical decisions into
question. Borroughs indicates that Vele never filed an inmate
complaint against himself, Deputy Giese, or Sheriff Wright.
In addition, Vele never appealed any of Borroughs'
decisions regarding Vele's complaints. Id. Vele
does not dispute that he never filed an inmate complaint
regarding Deputy Giese's conduct on December 28, 2012, or
that he never appealed ...