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Savage v. Gelok

United States District Court, D. Idaho

November 28, 2016



          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge

         Plaintiff, a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. Now pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Defendants assert that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to many of his claims. (Dkt. 17.) Also pending is Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 21), but that motion is not yet ripe for adjudication.

         Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record and that oral argument is unnecessary. See D. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order, granting Defendants' Motion in part and dismissing all of Plaintiff's claims other than (1) Plaintiff's claim, of inadequate medical treatment for gastrointestinal problems, against Dr. Young for the treatment Plaintiff received through October 20, 2015, and (2) Plaintiff's claim, of inadequate medical treatment for gastrointestinal problems, against Corizon for the treatment Plaintiff received through December 22, 2015.


         Plaintiff alleges that he has been denied adequate medical care for his gastrointestinal problems and his umbilical hernia. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, the Court previously reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint (Dkt. 3), as well as his supplemental pleading (Dkt. 9), and determined that he stated a plausible claim for relief against Defendants Gelok, Poulson, Agler, Young, and Corizon. (Dkt. 10.)

         Defendants now allege that all claims against Defendants Gelok, Poulson, and Agler, as well as Plaintiff's hernia claims against Defendants Young and Corizon, must be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to exhaust available administrative remedies.


         1. Factual Background

         This section includes facts that are undisputed and material to the resolution of the issues in this case. Where material facts are in dispute, the Court has included Plaintiff's version of facts.

         A. IDOC Grievance Procedures

         IDOC has established a grievance process, which is attached as Exhibit A-1 to the Affidavit of Jill Whittington, IDOC's Grievance Coordinator (“Whittington Aff.”) (Dkt. 17-3). This grievance process consists of three stages. First, any inmate with a concern is required to seek an informal resolution by filling out an offender concern form “addressed to the most appropriate staff member.” (Id. ¶ 5.) If the issue cannot be resolved informally through the concern form, the inmate must then file a grievance form. (Id.) A grievance form must be submitted within 30 days of the incident giving rise to the grievance.

         When submitting a grievance form, the inmate must attach a copy of the concern form, showing the inmate's attempt to settle the issue informally; the grievance must also “contain ‘specific information including [the] nature of the complaint, dates, places, and names.'” (Id. ¶ 6.) “Grievances are limited to one page of the grievance form, and an inmate's description of the issue being grieved must be written within the appropriate area of the grievance form.” (Id.)

         When the Grievance Coordinator receives a grievance, the coordinator enters the grievance information into the Corrections Integrated System (“CIS”), an electronic database used to log offender grievances and grievance appeals. (Id.) If a grievance is not completed, is filled out incorrectly, or is otherwise deemed in violation of policy-such as if the inmate failed to attach a copy of the concern form-the grievance is returned to the inmate without being processed, along with a description of the grievance's deficiencies. (See Ex. 1, Appx. D, Dkt. 17-4 at 24.) Grievances rejected in this manner “are not retained by the Grievance Coordinator.” (Whittington Aff., Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ 6.)

         If a grievance is correctly completed, the grievance coordinator assigns the inmate grievance “to the staff member most capable of responding to and, if appropriate, resolving the issue.” (Id.) That staff member responds to the grievance and returns it to the coordinator. The coordinator then forwards the grievance to a “reviewing authority.” In the case of a medical grievance, the reviewing authority is the “facility Health Services Administrator.” (Id.) The reviewing authority reviews the staff member's response to the grievance and issues a decision on the inmate's grievance. The grievance decision is then returned to the inmate.

         If the decision on an inmate's grievance is not satisfactory to the inmate, the inmate may appeal that decision. (Id. ¶ 8.) If the grievance involves a medical issue, the “appellate authority” is the Health Services Director. (Id.) The appellate authority decides the grievance appeal and the appeal form is returned to the inmate. Not until the completion of all three of these steps-concern form, grievance form, and grievance appeal-is the grievance process exhausted. (Id. at ¶ 9.)

         B. Plaintiff's Medical Grievances

         Plaintiff attempted to filed a medical grievance on September 10, 2015. This grievance, which was assigned Grievance No. II150000947 (“Grievance 947”), was returned to Plaintiff without action because Plaintiff “failed to attach a concern form showing his attempt to resolve the issue.” (Whittington Aff. at ¶ 12.)

         Plaintiff resubmitted the grievance on October 4, 2015, this time attaching the required concern form. This grievance, which was assigned Grievance No. II150001060 (“Grievance 1060”), stated that Plaintiff should be examined by a gastroenterologist and that he had attempted to resolve his concerns with several individuals, including Defendant Young. (Ex. A-3 to Whittington Aff., Dkt. 17-6 at 2-3; Ex. 1 to Plaintiff's Aff., Dkt. 19-4 at 5-7.) This grievance did not mention Plaintiff's hernia issue. This grievance was granted on October 20, 2015, because Plaintiff was “already scheduled to see a gastroenterologist.” (Id.) On December 21, 2015, Plaintiff again attempted to submit a medical grievance “in regard to the very inappropriate care [Plaintiff] received from” Defendant Agler. (Plaintiff's Aff. at 3.) This grievance, which was assigned Grievance No. II150001358 (“Grievance 1358”), stated as follows:

On [December 11, 2015], I was admitted to the infirmary by a provider. While in the infirmary, I was met by wannabe Dr. Agler. I refused to allow him to convince me that it isn't normal to have a bowel movement everyday and that it's perfectly normal to go up to 2 weeks without one. Now me gosh darn knowing well that not to be true, I called him on it & he kicked me out of the infirmary and blatantly refused me anymore treatment, even taking away my wheelchair and forcing me to walk around in agonizing pain.

(Ex. 2 to Plaintiff's Aff., Dkt. 19-5 at 3.) Grievance 1358 was returned to Plaintiff without being processed the same day it was submitted, because Plaintiff did not attach a concern form to the grievance.[1] (Id. at 2; Plaintiff's Aff. at 3; Ex. A-2 ...

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