HUNT FOR BP-9 WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY.
Accusing two correctional staff of coercing another inmate to assault Eric Gooch, Eric Gooch filed a Bivens lawsuit in December of this year, alleging an 8th Amendment violation. Before bringing a lawsuit, an inmate must exhaust all administrative procedures under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
Administrative Remedies Denied
Eric did not, claiming that when he asked his counselor for a remedy form, the counselor refused to give him one, saying “I’m not giving you a form to file on that and you better watch out snitching on staff.”
As the regulations and program description stated, Eric may have addressed his request directly to the Regional Office, according to the District Court’s decision. ” As a result, Eric had to go through the administrative remedy procedure before he could file a federal lawsuit.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal last week. There is no requirement to exhaust administrative procedures when prison authorities in charge of supplying grievance forms refuse to offer them to a prisoner who wants to register such a complaint. A prisoner’s failure to fill out an accessible form is sufficient evidence to show that Administrative Remedies are not available, according to the law.
According to the 7th, a prisoner must use the relevant BP-9 form in order to file a grievance with the Warden or Regional Director under the plain wording of the BOP’s administrative remedy procedure guidelines. Eric was told by the BOP that he still had time to obtain the BP-9 form before “rushing to court,” but the BOP insisted that Eric should have tried harder to obtain it before “rushing to court.” The Circuit rejected this as “unworkable,” holding that the PLRA does require “prisoners to go on scavenger hunts just to take the first step toward filing a grievance.”
Gooch v. Young, Case No. 21-1702, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 2042 (7th Cir., January 24, 2022)