United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
prisoner Kelly Grajek is proceeding on claims that defendants
Trent Landt and Heidi Bloyer disregarded a substantial risk
that Grajek would seriously harm himself, in violation of the
Eighth Amendment. Defendants have filed a motion for partial
summary judgment on the ground that Grajek did not exhaust
his administrative remedies on his claim against Landt, as
required by 42. U.S.C. § 1997e(a). For the reasons
explained below, I will grant the motion.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), “[n]o action shall be
brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983
of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner
confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility
until such administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” The exhaustion requirement is
mandatory, Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006),
and “applies to all inmate suits, ” Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002).
to comply with' 1997e(a), a prisoner must “properly
take each step within the administrative process, ”
Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir.
2002), which includes following instructions for filing the
initial grievance, Cannon v. Washington, 418 F.3d
714, 718 (7th Cir. 2005), as well as filing all necessary
appeals, Burrell v. Powers, 431 F.3d 282, 284-85
(7th Cir. 2005), “in the place, and at the time, the
prison's administrative rules require.”
Pozo, 286 F.3d at 1025. The purpose of these
requirements is to give the prison administrators a fair
opportunity to resolve the grievance without litigation.
Woodford, 548 U.S. at 88-89.
Wisconsin, the administrative code sets out the process for a
prisoner to file a grievance and appeal an adverse decision.
Wis. Admin. Code.' DOC 310.07 (prisoner first files
grievance with inmate complaint examiner; prisoner may appeal
adverse decision to corrections complaint examiner and then
to department secretary). A failure to follow these rules may
require dismissal of the prisoner's case. Perez v.
Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections, 182 F.3d 532, 535 (7th
Cir. 1999). But a failure to exhaust administrative remedies
under '1997e(a) is an affirmative defense that must be
proven by the defendants. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
do not contend that Grajek failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies as to his claim against Bloyer. The
question is whether the grievance Grajek filed against Bloyer
was broad enough to cover Grajek's claim against Landt as
determining whether the content of a grievance is sufficient
to exhaust a claim, the prison's own rules provide the
relevant standard. Jones, 549 U.S. at 218
(“Compliance with prison grievance procedures . . . is
all that is required by the PLRA to ‘properly
exhaust' . . . . [I]t is the prison's requirements,
and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of proper
exhaustion.”). Wisconsin's rules say that
“[a] complaint must contain sufficient information for
the department to investigate and decide the
complaint.” Wis. Admin Code § DOC 310.07(6). This
is similar to the default rule adopted by the court of
appeals: “a grievance suffices if it alerts the prison
to the nature of the wrong for which redress is
sought.” Strong v. David, 297 F.3d 646, 650
(7th Cir. 2002).
federal complaint, Grajek is alleging that he complained to
Landt that he was feeling suicidal, but Landt told Grajek
that he was lying and then simply walked away. After this,
Grajek contacted Bloyer on the intercom and told her that he
was feeling suicidal, but she “screamed” at
Grajek and turned off the intercom. Dkt. 1.
grievance discusses only the portion of the incident
involving Bloyer. He wrote that “Unit Sergeant
Bloyer” refused to let him call a family member who was
in the hospital. Bloyer “screamed” at Grajek over
the intercom and then turned it off. She refused to answer
the intercom for another 30 minutes and he started feeling
suicidal. Under the heading “Action Requested, ”
Grajek wrote, “I want an apology from Sgt.
Bloyer.” Dkt. 14-2.
is correct that § 1997e(a) doesn't require a
prisoner to identify a defendant by name in his grievance.
Jones, 549 U.S. at 219 (“[E]xhaustion is not
per se inadequate simply because an individual later sued was
not named in the grievances.”). But, as noted above, a
grievance does have to contain “sufficient information
for the department to investigate and decide the
complaint.” Wis. Admin Code § DOC 310.07(6).
didn't identify any problem in his grievance other than
the problem he had with Bloyer. By Grajek's own assertion
in his federal complaint, his interaction with Landt was
separate from his interaction with Bloyer and occurred
earlier. Regardless whether Grajek knew Landt's name,
Grajek needed to notify prison staff that the problem went
beyond Bloyer. Roberts v. Neal, 745 F.3d 232, 23536
(7th Cir. 2014) (grievance had “a fatal defect”
because it failed “to indicate that [the defendant] was
the target”; the grievance “neither mentioned
[the defendant] by name nor provided information that should
have identified him to the grievance officer”). Without
some mention of an interaction with a different officer, the
grievance examiner would have no way of knowing that he or
she should be investigating anyone's conduct other than
Grajek did not give the grievance examiner sufficient
information to investigate his claim against Landt, so he
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to that
claim. I will dismiss that claim without prejudice. Ford
v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 401 ...