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Iverson v. Bell

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 5, 2017

JORDAN BELL, et al., Defendants.


          J. Thomas Marten, Judge.

         Plaintiff Montee Ray Iverson, an inmate in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, filed this lawsuit pro se claiming violations of his First and Eighth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that defendants retaliated against him by housing him in a More Restricted Area (“MRA”) for discussing two guards' misconduct with healthcare providers. Plaintiff further alleges that he was kept in unsanitary conditions and certain defendants battered and/or sexually assaulted him. Defendants move for summary judgment claiming plaintiff failed to exhaust mandatory administrative remedies (Dkts. 56 and 62). For the reasons provided below, the court grants defendants' motions.

         I. Factual Background

         At all relevant times, plaintiff was housed at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility (“HCF”). Defendant Jordan Bell was a unit team supervisor at HCF at that same time. Defendant Dustin Davis is an HCF corrections officer. Defendant Misty Keolavone is a licensed specialized clinical social worker employed by Corizon, LLC as the Mental Health Coordinator at HCF.

         Plaintiff claims defendants retaliated against him for making threatening statements about HCF officers to his therapist, FNU Schroder. Plaintiff also alleges Keolavone was responsible for placing plaintiff in an MRA cell due to his mental condition.

         Plaintiff contends that he was kept in kept in unsanitary conditions because the MRA cells are not regularly cleaned, the toilets do not flush manually, and the “walls are stained with human excrement from inmates that are mentally ill.” (Dkt. 66, at 37). Plaintiff alleges that defendants Karen Barnt, Keolavone, and Bell were aware of the unsanitary conditions.

         Plaintiff further complains that Bell made plaintiff's conditions harsher by terminating his ability to purchase stamps and envelopes through Restricted Housing Rules. Plaintiff contends that Bell told plaintiff he needed to appear in person at the Segregation Review Board meeting even though Bell was aware of plaintiff's fears of mistreatment from correctional officials.

         Plaintiff indicates that on July 18, 2016, he was mentally ill and displayed suicidal tendencies. A cell extraction team was assembled to move plaintiff. During the forced removal, plaintiff alleges that Davis sexually assaulted him and other HCF correctional officers battered him.

         Following the screening of the Second Amended Complaint, plaintiff's retaliation claim (Count I) was dismissed. (Dkt. 32). Plaintiff's allegations of battery and sexual assault (Count II) and being housed in unsanitary conditions (Count III) were permitted to proceed.

         II. Summary Judgment Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates 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). A fact is “material” when it is essential to the claim, and the issues of fact are “genuine” if the proffered evidence permits a reasonable jury to decide the issue in either party's favor. Haynes v. Level 3 Communs., 456 F.3d 1215, 1219 (10th Cir. 2006). The movant bears the initial burden of proof and must show the lack of evidence on an essential element of the claim. Thom v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 353 F.3d 848, 851 (10th Cir. 2004) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). The nonmovant must then bring forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Garrison v. Gambro, Inc., 428 F.3d 933, 935 (10th Cir. 2005). The court views all evidence and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. LifeWise Master Funding v. Telebank, 374 F.3d 917, 927 (10th Cir. 2004).

         III. Exhaustion Requirements

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), provides that a prisoner may not bring an action under any federal law regarding prison conditions “until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” See also Simmons v. Stus, 401 F. App'x 380, 381 (10th Cir. 2010). “[T]he PLRA exhaustion 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. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). An inmate must not only start the grievance process but also complete the grievance process before filing his complaint. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (stating “[n]o action shall be brought . . . until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted”); see also Jernigan v. Stuchell, 304 F.3d 1030, 1032 (10th Cir. 2002) (“An inmate who begins the grievance process but does not complete it is barred from pursuing a § 1983 claim under PLRA for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.”).

         The grievance procedure for Kansas state prisoners is detailed in Kansas Administrative Regulation (“K.A.R.”) §§ 44-15-101 and 102, which includes three levels: submission of the grievance first to a unit team member, then ...

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