United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
QUENTIN C. WARD, Plaintiff,
DR. SAUVEY, JEAN LUTSEY, NURSE UTTOR, NURSE ALSTON, and NURSE LEMONS, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
Quentin C. Ward, a prisoner at the Green Bay Correctional
Institution, alleges that prison officials are not giving him
his prescribed medication for severe nerve pain in his back
and that they failed to treat painful lumps in his scrotum.
Several motions are before the court.
brings three sets of claims: (1) defendants Jean Lutsey and
Dr. Sauvey will not provide him with methadone previously
prescribed for his severe nerve pain in his back; (2)
defendant nurses Uttor, Alston, and Lemons of the Special
Needs Committee will not provide him with this medication;
and (3) defendant Sauvey failed to treat painful lumps on his
scrotum. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment
alleging that Ward failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies for his claims. Dkt. 24.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, “[n]o action shall be
brought with respect to prison conditions . . . until such
administrative remedies are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a). The exhaustion requirement is mandatory and
“applies to all inmate suits.” Woodford v.
Ngo, 548 U.S. 81 (2006); Porter v. Nussle, 534
U.S. 516, 524 (2002). The exhaustion requirement's
primary purpose is to “alert[ ] the state” to the
problem “and invit[e] corrective action.”
Riccardo v. Rausch, 375 F.3d 521, 524 (7th Cir.
1997e(a) requires “proper exhaustion, ”
Woodford, 548 U.S. at 93; Pozo v.
McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002), which
means that the prisoner must follow prison rules when filing
the initial grievance and all necessary appeals, “in
the place, and at the time, the prison's administrative
rules require.” Burrell v. Powers, 431 F.3d
282, 284-85 (7th Cir. 2005). “[A] prisoner who does not
properly take each step within the administrative process has
failed to exhaust state remedies.” Pozo, 286
F.3d at 1024. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections uses a
four-step process called the Inmate Complaint Review System
(ICRS) to review inmate grievances. See Wis. Admin.
Code Ch. DOC 310.
exhaustion is an affirmative defense, defendants bear the
burden of establishing that Ward failed to exhaust his
available remedies. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216
(2007). At the summary judgment stage, they must show that
there is no genuine dispute 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
admit that Ward properly exhausted his claim that defendants
Lutsey and Sauvey will not give him methadone. But they
contend that Ward failed to fully exhaust a 2013 grievance
about the Special Needs Committee defendants, and that he
never filed a grievance about the treatment of his scrotal
for the Special Needs Committee defendants, the state
produces a 2013 grievance by Ward (No. GBCI-2013-16956) in
which he mentions that a non-defendant doctor told him that
the “committee” denied him methadone, so
“there's nothing [the doctor] can do about
that.” Dkt. 26-2, at 6. The state construes this
grievance as one about the committee, although it contains
more broad allegations about his overall pain-medication
treatment by GBCI medical staff in general. It is undisputed
that Ward failed to fully exhaust this grievance. But it is
unclear why the failure to exhaust this particular grievance
means that Ward did not exhaust any grievance about
the committee. If their point is that it is the only
grievance that mentions the committee by name, that is not a
adequately notify prison officials of a particular claim, an
inmate's complaint must contain the information required
by the prison's administrative rules. Strong v.
David, 297 F.3d 646, 649 (7th Cir. 2002). The ICRS rules
do not provide strict pleading rules for the substance of
grievances; they state only that a grievance must
“clearly identify the issue.” Wis. Admin. Code
§ DOC 310.09(1)(e). Where administrative rules are
silent, “a grievance suffices if it alerts the prison
to the nature of the wrong for which redress is
sought.” Strong, 297 F.3d at 650; Riccardo
v. Rausch, 375 F.3d 521, 524 (7th Cir. 2004). An inmate
need not state “facts, articulate legal theories, or
demand particular relief, ” nor must he name each
potential defendant, so long as the grievance
“object[s] intelligibly to some asserted
shortcoming.” Strong, 297 F.3d at 650;
Riccardo, 375 F.3d at 524.
Ward's asserted shortcoming here to be that GBCI's
medical staff will not provide him with adequate pain
treatment for his nerve pain. The state concedes that Ward
has exhausted his pain-medication claim against defendants
Lutsey and Sauvey, but they do not explain which grievance
accomplished that exhaustion, and why that grievance does not
also serve to exhaust claims against the nurses on the
Special Needs Committee. Without seeing that grievance, and
given that inmate grievances unusually need not name
individual defendants, it is difficult to see how I can parse
the exhaustion of the claims against Lutsey and Sauvey from
the claims against the committee nurses.
part, Ward says that he exhausted the claims against the
nurses through grievance no. GBCI-2015-8128, in which he
complained that “HSU personnel refused to provide pain
management medication” regarding his nerve pain. Dkt.
31-1, at 1-2. That grievance was fully exhausted. In its
reply, the state does not address the '8128 grievance at
all, instead saying only that Ward failed to exhaust the 2013
grievance. This further confuses things, because the state
does not explain whether the '8128 grievance is the one
they consider to have exhausted Ward's claims against
Lutsey and Sauvey. If it is, they do not grapple with the
rule that Ward need not name each defendant in the grievance.
If it is not, they do not explain what grievance they
consider to have exhausted Ward's claims against Lutsey
and Sauvey, and why that grievance does not also exhaust the
claims against the nurses. It's the state's burden to
provide a lack of exhaustion and they have failed to do so
here. So I will deny defendants' motion for summary
judgment on the claims against the nurses.
Ward's claim about the lack of treatment for his scrotal
lumps, defendants say that Ward did not file any grievance
about this problem. Ward produces three grievances in his
response, but he admits that he failed to exhaust one of them
(GBCI-2016-8740, Dkt. 31-2). The other two (the '8128
grievance and no. GBCI-2016-12554, Dkt. 31-3) do not exhaust
his claims either.
says these two grievances exhaust his scrotal-lump claim
because in those grievances he complained about a lack of
pain-management treatment, and the DOC rules do not
specifically tell a prisoner that a grievance must detail
exactly where his pain is coming from. But, as stated above,
the rules do say that a prisoner must “clearly identify
the issue” and case law makes clear that the prisoner
must “alert the prison to the nature of the
wrong.” The '8128 grievance is clearly geared
toward Ward's nerve pain in his neck, arms, and back. ...