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Abdulmutallab v. Sessions

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 6, 2019

JEFFERSON SESSIONS, Attorney General of the United States, in his official capacity, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, JOHN DOES 1 THROUGH 20, in their official capacities, Defendants.


          Kathleen M. Tafoya, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This case comes before the court on the defendants' “Motion for Partial Summary Judgment” (Doc .No. 80 [Mot.], filed May 11, 2018. Plaintiff filed his response on July 30, 3018 (Doc. No. 115 [Resp.]), and Defendants filed their reply on August 13, 2018 (Doc. No. 116 [Reply]).


         Plaintiff is an inmate housed at the United States Penitentiary-Administrative Maximum (“ADX”) in Florence, Colorado. (Doc. No. 76 [Am. Compl.], filed April 14, 2018, ¶ 4.) Plaintiff is serving four terms of life imprisonment plus 50 years for his convictions for the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction on a commercial airliner that landed in Detroit Michigan, and the attempted murder of the 289 people on board. (Id., ¶1.) ADX is the highest security prison operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). (Id.) Before transferring Plaintiff to long-term solitary confinement at ADX, the United States government placed Plaintiff under Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”). (Id., ¶ 7.) Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint alleging various claims related to his transfer to ADX, the SAMs, the BOP's actions related to hunger strikes in 2012 and 2014, and his conditions of confinement at ADX. (See, generally, Am. Compl.)

         Defendants move for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's Claims 1, 6, 8-10, and 12, as well as with respect to portions of Claims 2-5, 7, 11, 13, 14 and the allegations in paragraph 147 of the Amended Complaint. (See Mot.)


         In accordance with Judge Moore's Practice Standards, the parties have submitted their Statement of Undisputed Material Facts and Response to Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in Exhibit 1. The court addresses the facts as it addresses each argument, infra.


         Summary judgment is appropriate 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). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). “Once the moving party meets this burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate a genuine issue for trial on a material matter.” Concrete Works, Inc. v. City & County of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1518 (10th Cir. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). The nonmoving party may not rest solely on the allegations in the pleadings, but must instead designate “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A disputed fact is “material” if “under the substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim.” Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir.1998) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is such that it might lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Thomas v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 631 F.3d 1153, 1160 (10th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

         When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court may consider only admissible evidence. See Johnson v. Weld County, Colo., 594 F.3d 1202, 1209-10 (10th Cir. 2010). The factual record and reasonable inferences therefrom are viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Concrete Works, 36 F.3d at 1517. At the summary judgment stage of litigation, a plaintiff's version of the facts must find support in the record. Thomson v. Salt Lake Cnty., 584 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2009). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Thomson, 584 F.3d at 1312.


         Defendants move for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).

         The PLRA provides 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 applies to all inmate suits about prison life.” Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). See also Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 731-32 (2001) (PLRA requires exhaustion in all matters regardless of remedy sought and availability of remedy at the agency level).

         The PLRA's requirement that an inmate exhaust all available administrative remedies before initiating suit is mandatory. See Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006) (“Exhaustion is no longer left to the discretion of the district court, but is mandatory.”). See also Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. at 210-212 (“There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.”). “To exhaust administrative remedies an inmate must properly comply with grievance procedures; substantial compliance is insufficient.” Fields v. Okla. State Penitentiary, 511 F.3d 1109, 1112 (10th Cir. 2007). “[T]o properly exhaust administrative remedies prisoners must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, -rules that are defined not by the PLRA, but by the prison grievance process itself.” Bock, 549 U.S. at 218 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Thus, it is the prison's own grievance procedures that set forth what the prisoner must do to exhaust his or her administrative remedies. 549 U.S. at 218 (citation omitted). After Jones v. Bock, a failure to exhaust administrative remedies constitutes an affirmative defense which must proved by defendants. Roberts v. Barreras, 484 F.3d 1236, 1241 (10th Cir. 2007).

         The BOP provides a four-tiered Administrative Remedy Program for inmate grievances.[1]28 C.F.R. § 542.13(a). The first step requires a prisoner to present an issue of concern informally to prison staff. 28 C.F.R. § 542.13(a). The prisoner has 20 days from the date of the incident to complete the informal resolution and file a formal Administrative Remedy Request, known as a BP-9.3 28 C.F.R. § 542.14(a). The warden must respond within 20 days. If dissatisfied with the warden's response, the prisoner may appeal to the Regional Director by filing a Regional Office Administrative Remedy Appeal, also known as a BP-10 request, within 20 days. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(a). The Regional Director must respond to the BP-10 within 30 days. 28 C.F.R. § 542.18. Finally, if the prisoner is dissatisfied with the Regional Director's response, he may appeal to the Director of National Inmate Appeals by filing a Central Office Administrative Remedy Appeal, known as a BP-11, within 30 days. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(a). The Director of the Central Office Administrative Remedy Appeal must respond within 40 days. 28 C.F.R. § 542.18. A prisoner has not exhausted his administrative remedies until he has properly and timely sought review at all three formal levels. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(b)(2).

         A. Claims 1 and 9 and Paragraph 147

         In Claim 1, Plaintiff alleges that his due process rights were violated in his transfer to the ADX in 2012. (Compl. at 63-64.) In Claim 9, Plaintiff alleges that his rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) were violated because he was allegedly denied access to an imam, denied a halal diet, and force-fed a non-halal nutritional supplement. (Id. at 72-73.) In paragraph 147 of his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, whether due to SAMs or other ...

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