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Applewhite v. Bivens

June 9, 2010

MARC E. APPLEWHITE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHAMEKA BIVENS ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document Nos.: 22, 24

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. The pro se plaintiff, an incarcerated inmate, commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison officials ignored his warnings that another inmate had threatened to harm him. The defendants argue, inter alia, that they are entitled to summary judgment because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to commencing this action. For the reasons discussed below, the court awards summary judgment to the defendants.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

At all times relevant to this action, the plaintiff was incarcerated at the Correctional Treatment Facility ("CTF"), a District of Columbia facility operated by the Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA"). See generally Compl. While incarcerated, the plaintiff had a job that allowed him access to the Internet. Id. at 1-2. According to the plaintiff, a fellow inmate threatened to kill him if he did not "get on the internet and find a web[] site[.]" Id. at 2. The plaintiff's attempt to locate the website were unsuccessful and the inmate attempted to kill the plaintiff. Id. The plaintiff ultimately reported the threats to CCA staff, all of whom allegedly ignored the threats. Id. at 2-3. The plaintiff lost his job and was transferred to a different housing unit. Id. at 3. In addition, the defendants allegedly defamed the plaintiff by accusing him of accessing websites featuring gay pornography and of having sex in exchange for commissary. Id. The plaintiff demands damages of $20 million. Id.

On October 30, 2009, the defendants filed this motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. See generally Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mot."). In their motion, the defendants assert that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by federal statute, failed to allege that he suffered an "actual injury" and failed to state a claim against certain defendants. See generally id. On November 2, 2009, the court issued an order advising the plaintiff that his failure to respond to the defendants' motion by November 30, 2009 could lead to the court grant the motion as conceded. Order (Nov. 2, 2009). The plaintiff, however, failed to file an opposition as directed.*fn1 Although the court could grant the defendants' motion as conceded, in the interests of explaining the substantive basis of the court's ruling to the pro se plaintiff, the court turns to the applicable legal standards and the arguments raised in the defendants' motion.*fn2

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. Id.

The nonmoving party may defeat summary judgment through factual representations made in a sworn affidavit if he "support[s] his allegations . . . with facts in the record," Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (quoting Harding v. Gray, 9 F.3d 150, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1993)), or provides "direct testimonial evidence," Arrington v. United States, 473 F.3d 329, 338 (D.C. Cir. 2006). Indeed, for the court to accept anything less "would defeat the central purpose of the summary judgment device, which is to weed out those cases insufficiently meritorious to warrant the expense of a jury trial." Greene, 164 F.3d at 675.

B. The Plaintiff Failed to Exhaust His Administrative Remedies as Required Prior to Commencing this Action

In their motion, the defendants assert that the plaintiff "failed to exhaust all administrative remedies available to him pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1997" prior to commencing this action. Defs.' Mot. at 1. For this reason, they ...


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