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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides two Indiana cases today

In Asher Hill v. Jerry Snyder (SD Ind., Young), an 8-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

Asher Hill, an Indiana inmate, sued prison staff under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that they had violated the Eighth Amendment by failing to protect him from inmates who threw feces at him on four occasions. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants on the ground that Hill had not exhausted administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). We conclude that summary judgment was improper for three of the incidents, so we vacate the judgment in part and remand the case for further proceedings. * * *

In this case, Hill sought the required form not from a ran-domly chosen staff member but from his counselor and unit manager. Each of those officials was responsible under the grievance policy for giving Hill an available grievance form upon request. Hill’s affidavit shows that they refused to do so for the third incident and, construed at this juncture in his favor, permits an inference they refused to do so for the fourth. The record also does not indicate that either had any legitimate reason for refusing his request. The evidence of their refusals to give Hill an available form is sufficient to permit a finding that Hill was prevented from grieving these incidents. The administrative remedies were not available to him. He was not required to hunt for a form from other staff members. Defendants are not entitled to summary judgment based on this defense.

Accordingly, we VACATE the judgment of the district court in part, with respect to the exhaustion ruling on the claim regarding the first incident of February 2011 and the third and fourth incidents of June and August 2012, and REMAND for further proceedings on those claims. In all other respects, the judgment is AFFIRMED.

In Arlene Nunez v. Indiana Department of Child Services (ND Ind., DeGuilio), a 7-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

The Indiana Department of Child Services (“DCS”) oversees state child protection services, child support enforcement, and the Indiana foster care system. For nine years, plaintiffs Arlene Nuñez and Veronica Martinez worked as investigators in the DCS Gary office. On August 20, 2014, Nuñez and Martinez sued the DCS for violations of the overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). They allege that DCS required them to work during lunch and to remain on call after their shifts, despite being paid for only forty hours per week. Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief, damages, and attorney fees.

In Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706 (1999), the Supreme Court held that enactment of the federal FLSA did not abrogate states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity, but the Court left open the possibility that states could consent to such suits. Id. at 754–55. Plaintiffs argue that Indiana has given consent, but the district court held that it has not. * * *

When Indiana enacted the current codification of § 34‐13‐1‐1 in 1998, plaintiffs argue, application of the FLSA to state employees was settled law, so we should infer that Indiana legislators made a deliberate choice not to preserve sovereign immunity expressly in statutory text. * * *

Finally, the argument reads far too much into the 1998 recodification of Title 34 of the Indiana Code dealing with civil procedure. Public Law 1‐1998 was intended to recodify existing law, not to change substantive law, and certainly not to do anything as substantive as implicitly waive the state’s Eleventh Amendment immunity. See Ind. Code § 34‐7‐1‐4 (instructions on how to construe recodification act of 1998); Cheri A. Harris, Cleaning House in Title 34: Recodification of the Civil Code of 1881, Res Gestae, April 1998, at 26 (“An effort is made to resolve ambiguities in current law whenever possible, but with the condition that no substantive changes are to be made in the law.”). The recodification of the older statute of limitations did not indicate any deliberate choice by the state to waive the protections of the Eleventh Amendment.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 5, 2016 01:55 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions