United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment (#51), plaintiff's motion for leave to
file exhibits (#54), and defendants' motion for summary
judgment (#55). For the reasons set forth below, this
Court will GRANT defendants' motion
while treating it as a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Porter v. Sturm, 781 F.3d 448, 452-453 (8th Cir.
2015). Therefore, this matter will be DISMISSED
without prejudice and all other motions will be
DENIED AS MOOT.
parties agree on the following facts.
the relevant time period, plaintiff was an inmate at
Missouri's Southeast Correctional Center (SECC). On
November 16, 2016, plaintiff was placed in a cell with fellow
inmate Theodis Hill, at which point plaintiff declared to
defendants Shelton and Fields that Hill “was his
enemy.” Plaintiff requested an “enemy declaration
form” and Fields left to retrieve one for him.
Plaintiff then continued to protest his cell assignment to
Shelton. Shelton directed plaintiff to place his hands in the
food port door of the cell so that plaintiff's wrist
restraints could be removed. Plaintiff refused to relinquish
his wrist restraints, prompting Shelton's use of a
mechanical tether to pull plaintiff's hands through the
food port door. Fields then radioed for help from their
commander, Sergeant Proffer. When Proffer arrived, plaintiff
became compliant and allowed Shelton to remove the wrist
restraints. Plaintiff was seen by a nurse a few minutes
later, who determined that plaintiff suffered “a minor
abrasion to his left wrist, for which no treatment was
parties' stories diverge at this point. Plaintiff states
that he was “assaulted later by offender Hill.”
In support, he cites generally to his own amended complaint
and defendants' answer. In paragraph 37 of the amended
complaint, it is alleged that Hill “punched plaintiff
in his face, ” to which defendants answered-at the
time-that they were “without sufficient knowledge or
information to admit or deny [that] allegation.” In
moving for summary judgment, defendants now state that
medical records show plaintiff reported no injuries following
the night he spent with Hill. They also cite their own
affidavits in explaining “Theodis Hill did not injure
[plaintiff].” A review of these affidavits, however,
indicates only that they did not harm plaintiff
through the purported “use of force”-to say
nothing of what happened in a failure-to-protect-type context
when plaintiff was left alone with Hill following their
departure from the cell wing.
amended complaint alleges what amounts to two counts:
excessive force and failure-to-protect. Defendants argue
summary judgment should be awarded to them on a number of
grounds, including that plaintiff failed to administratively
exhaust his claims and that the facts simply do not
sufficiently support each element of plaintiff's claims.
Defendants also argue they are entitled to qualified
Court finds it need only address the issue of administrative
exhaustion, as that issue is outcome determinative. “An
inmate must exhaust all available administrative remedies
before bringing a § 1983 suit.” Porter v.
Sturm, 781 F.3d 448, 452-453 (8th Cir. 2015). When
exhaustion is lacking, the Eighth Circuit has indicated the
court should refraining from opining on the merits of summary
judgment and should, instead, simply dismiss the case without
prejudice. Id. at 452-453 (finding plaintiff failed
to exhaust, stating that dismissal without prejudice is
therefore mandatory, and vacating summary judgment while
affirming dismissal with instructions on remand to make it
without prejudice); Barbee v. Corr. Med. Servs., 394
Fed.Appx. 337, 337 (8th Cir. 2010) (affirming dismissal
without prejudice but vacating grant of summary judgment).
the amended complaint makes clear that plaintiff did nothing
to engage the administrative grievance process related to his
claims. He checked a box admitting as much on page 2:
there a prisoner grievance procedure at the institution in
which you are incarcerated?
[√] NO [ ]
you presented this grievance system the facts which are at