United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
CHARLES E. CARTHAGE, JR., Plaintiff,
LARRY MALCOMSON, PHIL STEFFEN, DAVE POTEAT, and MIKE HORST, Defendants.
STADTMUELLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Charles E. Carthage, Jr. (“Carthage”), a
prisoner, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against Defendants, correctional officers at the Brown
County Jail and Brown County sheriff's deputies, alleging
inadequate treatment of his medical needs. (Docket #26, #28).
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on September
1, 2017, arguing in part that Carthage failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies before filing suit. (Docket #38). The
motion has been fully briefed, and for the reasons stated
below, it will be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that the court
“shall grant summary judgment if 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); Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910,
916 (7th Cir. 2016). A fact is “material” if it
“might affect the outcome of the suit” under the
applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of fact is
“genuine” if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. The court construes all facts and
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc.,
815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016).
Exhaustion of Prisoner Administrative Remedies
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) establishes
that, prior to filing a lawsuit complaining about prison
conditions, a prisoner must exhaust “such
administrative remedies as are available[.]” 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a). To do so, the prisoner must “file
complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time, the
prison's administrative rules require, ” and he
must do so precisely in accordance with those rules;
substantial compliance does not satisfy the PLRA. Pozo v.
McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002);
Burrell v. Powers, 431 F.3d 282, 284-85 (7th Cir.
2005). A suit must be dismissed if it was filed before
exhaustion was complete, even if exhaustion is achieved
before judgment is entered. Perez v. Wis. Dep't of
Corr., 182 F.3d 532, 535 (7th Cir. 1999). Several
important policy goals animate the exhaustion requirement,
including restricting frivolous claims, giving prison
officials the opportunity to address situations internally,
giving the parties the opportunity to develop the factual
record, and reducing the scope of litigation. Smith v.
Zachary, 255 F.3d 446, 450-51 (7th Cir. 2001).
to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense
to be proven by Defendants. Westefer v. Snyder, 422
F.3d 570, 577 (7th Cir. 2005). In early 2013, during the
events relevant to this case, the Brown County Jail
maintained a policy for inmate grievances. (Docket #41-1). At
the Jail, an inmate wishing to air a grievance must file his
complaint on an inmate grievance form within forty-eight
hours of the incident. Id. at 2, 6-7. Grievances
filed beyond the 48-hour time limit may be honored if the
inmate can show good cause for the delay. Id. Once
the grievance is filed and addressed, the inmate must then
appeal any adverse disposition of the grievance to higher
level Jail officials in order to achieve exhaustion. See
Id. at 4-5.
Carthage's Failure to Dispute the Material Facts
relevant facts are undisputed because Carthage did not
properly dispute them. In the Court's scheduling order,
issued March 7, 2017, Carthage was warned about the
requirements for opposing a motion for summary judgment.
(Docket #23 at 2-3). Accompanying that order were copies of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Civil Local Rule 56,
both of which describe in detail the form and contents of a
proper summary judgment submission. Most relevant here is
Local Rule 56(b)(2), which obligates the non-movant on
summary judgment to file “a concise response to the
moving party's statement of facts that must contain a
reproduction of each numbered paragraph in the moving
party's statement of facts followed by a response to each
paragraph, including, in the case of any disagreement,
specific references to the affidavits, declarations, parts of
the record, and other supporting materials relied
upon[.]” Civ. L. R. 56(b)(2)(B)(i).
on September 1, 2017, Defendants filed their motion for
summary judgment. (Docket #38). In the motion, Defendants
also warned Carthage about the requirements for his response
as set forth in Federal and Local Rules 56. Id. at
1. Copies of those Rules were provided in Defendants'
motion. See Id. at 2-8. In connection with their
motion, Defendants filed a supporting statement of material
facts that complied with the applicable procedural rules.
(Docket #40). It contained short, numbered paragraphs
concisely stating those facts which Defendants proposed to be
beyond dispute, with supporting citations to the attached
evidentiary materials. See id.
being twice warned of the strictures of summary judgment
procedure, Carthage ignored those rules by failing to dispute
Defendants' proffered facts in any coherent fashion.
Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003).
Instead, Carthage's entire response to Defendants'
summary-judgment submission was a six-page affidavit. (Docket
#48). Most of Carthage's averments have nothing to do
with exhaustion but instead touch upon the merits of his
claims. See Id. ¶¶ 1-23. Of course,
exhaustion of administrative remedies is not at all dependent
on whether the prisoner's claims have merit.
to the extent that Carthage included a few statements
concerning his efforts to exhaust his administrative
remedies, see Id. ¶ 24, he nevertheless failed
to abide by the Court's rules and submit a response to
Defendants' statement of material facts accompanied by
citations to admissible evidence showing that he in fact
complied with the exhaustion requirement, See Civ.
L. R. 56(b)(2)(B)(i). Further, his vague assertion that he
“filed multiple grievances to virtually every person
and possible entity I could think of, ” including Jail
officials, Wisconsin senators, the Wisconsin governor, and
staff at the Dodge Correctional Institution (to which he was
later transferred), (Docket #48 ¶ 24), fails to
demonstrate that he filed a timely grievance at the Brown