United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR
N. PARRISH, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment.
[Docket 30]. The court GRANTS the motion.
Brent Roe is a prisoner at the Utah State Prison. On June 22,
2013, Roe's cellmate set his mattress on fire. Roe alleges
that prison guards were slow to respond to the fire. He also
alleges that smoke from the fire damaged his lungs leading to
a persistent cough that continued until two years after the
around early April 2015, Roe submitted a Level I Grievance to
prison officials. In it, Roe complained that his lungs had
been damaged by fumes from the 2013 fire and that Doctor
Kenneth Tubbs had refused to prescribe respiratory therapy.
Prison officials denied and returned the Level I Grievance,
stating that Roe had failed to file his Grievance within
seven working days of the 2013 fire as required by the
prison's grievance procedure. Roe then submitted a Level
II Grievance which provided more detail to his claim that the
2013 fire damaged his lungs and that Dr. Tubbs had refused to
give him respiratory therapy. Prison officials again denied
the grievance, asserting that there was no record of
receiving a Level I Grievance on the subject of a long-term
cough. Roe finally submitted a Level III Grievance in which
he argued that he had consistently raised the issue of his
persistent cough throughout the grievance process. On May 8,
2015, Prison officials denied the Level III Grievance,
arguing that it was “too late to grieve any alleged
lung damage due to the fire . . . set in 2013” and that
Roe was “seen by Dr. Tubbs on May 6, 2015, and there
was no evidence of a cough . . . or asthma.”
August 2015, Roe filed a civil complaint against Dr. Tubbs
and Scott Crowther, the warden of the Utah State Prison. The
complaint alleged that he had been subjected to cruel and
unusual punishment in violation of his Eighth Amendment
rights under three distinct theories. First, Roe alleged that
the prison guards' slow response to the fire subjected
him to severe smoke inhalation. Second, he alleged that Dr.
Tubbs refused requests for treatment of his persistent cough.
And Third, Roe alleged that Dr. Tubbs refused treatment for a
hernia he had developed in March 2015.
defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that
they should prevail as a matter of law for two reasons: (1)
Roe failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and (2) Dr.
Tubbs and Crowther did not violate Roe's Eighth Amendment
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). “A fact is material if, under the
governing law, it could have an effect on the outcome of the
lawsuit. A dispute over a material fact is genuine if a
rational jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party on
the evidence presented.” Schneider v. City of Grand
Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 767 (10th Cir.
2013) (citation omitted). On a motion for summary judgment,
the court “consider[s] the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party.” Conroy v.
Vilsack, 707 F.3d 1163, 1170 (10th Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted). However, “[w]hen the moving party has carried
its burden under rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than
simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for
trial.'” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
380 (2007) (alterations in original) (citation omitted).
EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) provides: “No
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.” 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a). “[T]he PLRA's 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). “Exhaustion is [not] left to the discretion of
the district court, but is mandatory.” Woodford v.
Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006); accord Beaudry v. Corr.
Corp. of Am., 331 F.3d 1164, 1167 n.5 (10th Cir. 2003)
(“The statutory exhaustion requirement of §
1997e(a) is mandatory, and [district courts are] not
authorized to dispense with it.”).
Supreme Court has held that the exhaustion requirement may
not be satisfied by filing an untimely or otherwise
procedurally infirm grievance because the PLRA requires
“proper exhaustion.” Woodford, 548 U.S.
at 90. Proper exhaustion “‘means using all steps
the agency holds out, and doing so properly (so that
the agency addresses the issues on the merits).' . . .
[and] demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and
other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative
system can function effectively without imposing some orderly
structure on the course of its proceedings.”
Id. at 90-91 (citation omitted).
this statutory exhaustion requirement, Roe failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies for his claim that Dr. Tubbs
refused to treat his hernia. None of the grievances he filed
with prison officials mentioned a hernia. Nor did he ever
claim that he did not receive proper medical care for this
alleged condition. Because Roe failed to address this claim
through the Utah State Prison grievance ...