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Brush v. Harper

March 9, 2009

GARY BRUSH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARPER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES BE GRANTED

(Doc. 59)

OBJECTION DUE WITHIN 30 DAYS

I. Findings

A. Procedural History

Gary Brush ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This is proceeding on Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed June 30, 2008, against defendants Harper, Ortiz, Brummel, Lee, Freeland, Watts, Josso, Tucker, Soares, Rangel, Gonzales, Cano, Greene, Scott, Naftzger, King, and Cattallano ("Defendants"), for alleged retaliation and Eighth Amendment violations.*fn1 On December 18, 2008, pursuant to the unenumerated portion of Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendants Naftzger, Soares, Scott, Tucker, and Freeland moved for dismissal of the entire action, and defendants Lee, Jasso, Rangel, Gonzales, and Cano moved for dismissal of some of the claims for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies. (Doc. 59.)

Plaintiff did not file an opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss.*fn2

B. Motion to Dismiss For Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

1. Legal Standard

Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983], 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). Prisoners are required to exhaust the available administrative remedies prior to filing suit. Jones v. Bock, 127 S.Ct. 910, 918-19 (2007); McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Cir. 2002). Exhaustion is required regardless of the relief sought by the prisoner and regardless of the relief offered by the process, Booth v. Chruner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001), and the exhaustion requirement applies to all prisoner suits relating to prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002).

Section 1997e(a) does not impose a pleading requirement, but rather, is an affirmative defense under which defendants have the burden of raising and proving the absence of exhaustion. Jones, 127 S.Ct. at 921; Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003). The failure to exhaust non-judicial administrative remedies that are not jurisdictional is subject to an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion, rather than a summary judgment motion. Wyatt, 315 F.3d at 1119 (citing Ritza v. Int'l Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union, 837 F.2d 365, 368 (9th Cir. 1988) (per curiam)). In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, the court may look beyond the pleadings and decide disputed issues of fact. Wyatt, 315 F.3d at 1119-20. If the court concludes that the prisoner has failed to exhaust administrative remedies, the proper remedy is dismissal without prejudice. Id.

The California Department of Corrections has an administrative grievance system for prisoner complaints. Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15 § 3084.1 (2007). The process is initiated by submitting a CDC Form 602. Id. at § 3084.2(a). Four levels of appeal are involved, including the informal level, first formal level, second formal level, and third formal level, also known as the "Director's Level." Id. at § 3084.5. Appeals must be submitted within fifteen working days of the event being appealed, and the process is initiated by submission of the appeal to the informal level, or in some circumstances, the first formal level. Id. at §§ 3084.5, 3084.6(c). In order to satisfy section 1997e(a), California state prisoners are required to use this process to exhaust their claims prior to filing suit. Woodford v. Ngo, 126 S.Ct. 2378, 2383 (2006); McKinney, 311 F.3d at 1199-1201.

2. Retaliation Claim against Lee, and Eighth Amendment claim against Lee and Freeland

Plaintiff's amended complaint is proceeding against Defendants Lee and Freeland for an Eighth Amendment violation, and against Lee for retaliation. (Doc. 24, Findings and Recommendations, 4:2-27.) Plaintiff alleges that Lee assigned a violent cellmate to Plaintiff's cell in retaliation for Plaintiff filing a failure to summon medical attention on August 12, 2005. (Doc. 19, p. 10:24-11:15.) Plaintiff also alleges that he informed Lee and ...


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