United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
J. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is defendants’ (first) motion for summary
judgment (Doc. No. 74), which seeks judgment as a matter of
law on the four claims that have been allowed to proceed in
this action. In their motion, defendants argue that
plaintiff, James Stile, failed to exhaust the available
administrative remedies at the Strafford County House of
Corrections (“SCHC”) from January 2013 through
June 2015 when he was in pretrial detention, warranting
summary judgment pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, as to each of
the claims remaining in this action.
Stile did not file a timely objection to the instant motion,
Stile objected to defendants’ (second) motion for
summary judgment, in a filing he entitled,
“Plaintiff’s Response to Motion for Summary
Judgment” (Doc. No. 85) (hereinafter “Stile
Decl.”). That filing ends with Stile’s
declaration, signed upon pains of perjury, that the matters
asserted in Document No. 85 are true to the best of his
knowledge. This court considers the record before the court
relevant to defendants’ (first) summary judgment motion
to include the pertinent exhibits to defendants’
(second) summary judgment motion (Doc. No. 83), as well as
the factual matters declared to be true in Document No. 85.
judgment is warranted if ‘there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.’” Luceus v.
Rhode Island, 923 F.3d 255, 256-57 (1st Cir. 2019)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). Where the party moving for
summary judgment bears the burden of proof on an issue, that
party “must provide evidence sufficient for the court
to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other
than in its favor.” Am. Steel Erectors, Inc. v.
Local Union No. 7, Int’l Ass’n of Bridge,
Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers,
536 F.3d 68, 75 (1st Cir. 2008); see also Asociación
de Suscripción Conjunta del Seguro de
Responsabilidad Obligatorio v.
Juarbe-Jiménez, 659 F.3d 42, 50 n.10 (1st Cir.
2011) (once defendant moving for summary judgment on
affirmative defense produces “conclusive”
evidence to establish defense, burden shifts to plaintiff to
show that defense does not apply).
issues on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of
proof, the party moving for summary judgment must first
identify the portions of the record that show the absence of
any genuine issue of material fact; then the burden shifts to
the nonmoving party to demonstrate, by reference to materials
of evidentiary quality, that a trier of fact could reasonably
resolve that issue in the nonmoving party’s favor.
Flovac, Inc. v. Airvac, Inc., 817 F.3d 849, 853 (1st
Cir. 2016). The nonmoving party’s failure to make the
requisite showing as to issues upon which it bears the burden
of proof “entitles the moving party to summary
claims remain in this action:
(1) a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim
arising from Stile’s placement in disciplinary
segregation on “D-Pod” upon his arrival at the
SCHC, without prior notice and a hearing;
(2) a First Amendment free exercise claim arising from
Stile’s alleged lack of access to weekly religious
services while he was housed on D-Pod;
(3) a claim under the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), also
arising from Stile’s alleged lack of access to weekly
religious services while on D-Pod; and
(4) a Fourteenth Amendment inadequate medical care claim
arising from the alleged withholding of the appropriate
dosage of a prescription breathing medication, known as
Advair, for two years while Stile was in pretrial detention
at the SCHC.
See Aug. 2, 2017 R&R (Doc. No. 61), at 1-2
(listing claims), approved by Sept. 1, 2017 Order (Doc. No.
argue that, as to each of the remaining claims, Stile did not
exhaust the grievance procedures that were generally
available at the SCHC, which warrants an order granting their
motion for summary judgment on those claims. The PLRA
provides, in pertinent part, that “[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.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The PLRA’s
exhaustion requirement is designed to “afford[ ]
corrections officials time and opportunity to address
complaints internally before allowing the initiation of a
federal case.” Porter v. Nussle, 534
U.S. 516, 524–25 (2002).
“PLRA exhaustion requirement requires proper
exhaustion, ” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93
(2006), which means using all the steps that the prison
grievance system makes available, and doing so in conformity
with the agency’s deadlines and other critical
procedural rules, Id. at 90. “[I]t is the
prison’s requirements, and not the PLRA, that define
the boundaries of proper exhaustion.” Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007).
is one exception to the exhaustion rule -administrative
remedies must, in fact, be “available” to the
prisoner. Ross v. Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850,
1856 (2016). Circumstances in which a remedy may be
considered unavailable include when “it operates as a
simple dead end - with officers unable or consistently
unwilling to provide any relief to aggrieved inmates, ”
Id. at 1859; when prison officials “thwart
inmates from taking advantage of a grievance process through
machination, misrepresentation, or intimidation, ”
Id. at 1860; and when “rules are ‘so
confusing that . . . no reasonable prisoner can use them,
’” Id. at 1859 (citations omitted).
Claims for which a plaintiff has not exhausted his available
administrative remedies are subject to dismissal. See
Medina-Claudio v. Rodríguez-Mateo, 292 F.3d 31,
36 (1st Cir. 2002).
to exhaust available administrative remedies is an
affirmative defense on which defendants bear the burden of
proof. See Jones, 549 U.S. at 216; Albino v. Baca,
747 F.3d 1162, 1172 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc). At the summary
judgment phase, defendants bear the initial burden of showing
that plaintiff failed to exhaust all of his generally
available administrative remedies. See Hubbs v. Suffolk
Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, 788 F.3d 54, 59 (2d
Cir. 2015); Albino, 747 F.3d at 1172. Then, “the burden
shifts to the prisoner to come forward with evidence showing
that there is something in his particular case that made the
existing and generally available administrative remedies
effectively unavailable to him, ” Albino, 747 F.3d at
1172; see also Tuckel v. Grover, 660 F.3d 1249, 1254
(10th Cir. 2011).
Stile was at the SCHC, the Strafford County Department of
Corrections (“SCDOC”) had an Inmate Grievance
Procedure which was “the only approved method of
addressing grievances, conditions of confinement complaints
or mistreatment.” SCDOC Operational Guidelines, Inmate
Grievance Procedure (rev. May 19, 2009) (“Op.
Guidelines”) (Ex. A, Attach. 1 to Decl. Gwen Weisgarber
(“Weisgarber Decl.”)) (Doc. No. 74-3, at 2); see
also SCDOC Inmate Handbook (rev. Aug. 12, 2011) (Ex. B,
Attach. 1 to Weisgarber Decl.) (“2011 Inmate
Handbook”) (Doc. ...