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Kidd v. Biggs

July 16, 2009

ALFRED R. KIDD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
V. BIGGS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Mikel H. Williams United States Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

This prisoner civil rights case has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). (Docket No. 23.) Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Unenumerated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b), in which Defendants argue that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.

Having reviewed the Motion, Response, and relevant portions of the record, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary to resolve this matter. For the reasons that follow, the Court recommends that the Motion be denied.

REPORT

BACKGROUND

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he requested a transfer to a different cell at the Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") on August 26, 2004. That request was denied, and Sergeant Biggs ordered him to go back to his cell. Plaintiff contends that when he refused, he was dragged toward his cell by Defendant Oxborrow. Plaintiff alleges that when he stood up, he was pushed, which caused him to fall. Defendants Biggs, Oxborrow and Dhillon then picked him up, carried him to the day room, and dropped him on the floor. Defendant Biggs allegedly slammed Plaintiff's head into the wall, and another officer began kicking him.

Plaintiff was eventually transferred to the Correctional Treatment Center, where he was left in a cell in handcuffs for over four hours. He claims that at one point during this time, defendant Madrid intentionally squeezed his handcuffs tighter, causing him more pain.

On August 21, 2006, Plaintiff brought this action under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Beck reviewed the Complaint and concluded that Plaintiff had stated a claim for relief for excessive force against defendants Biggs, Oxborrow, Dhillon, and Madrid, but that he had failed to state any other claims against any other defendants. Judge Beck gave Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint or to proceed on the excessive force claim. (Docket No. 10, p. 4.) Plaintiff notified the Court that he intended to proceed only against defendants Biggs, Oxborrow, Dhillon, and Madrid for excessive force. (Docket No. 11.)

Defendants have filed a pre-answer Motion to Dismiss on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to initiating this lawsuit. Plaintiff has responded, and the matter is now ripe for the Court's decision.

STANDARD OF LAW

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), an inmate is required to exhaust all available administrative remedies within the jail or prison system before he can bring a civil rights lawsuit challenging the conditions of his confinement. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). "There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court." Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007). In Jones, the Supreme Court noted that the important policy concern behind requiring exhaustion is that it "allows prison officials an opportunity to resolve disputes concerning the exercise of their responsibilities before being haled into court." Id. at 204.

Proper exhaustion is required, meaning that "a prisoner must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal court." Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88 (2006). Where there is an informal and relatively simple prison grievance system, prisoners must take advantage of it before filing a civil rights complaint. Id. at 103. "[I]t is the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of proper exhaustion." Jones, 549 U.S. at 118.

Failure to exhaust remedies is an affirmative defense that should be brought as an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion, and the court may resolve disputed issues of fact. Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2002). Defendants bear the burden of proving a lack ...


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