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Guevara v. Ralls

April 28, 2010

AMILCAR GUEVARA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
A. RALLS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding without counsel, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendant C. McCarvel's motion to dismiss, filed on February 17, 2010, on the grounds that plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Dkt. No. 35. On March 1, 2010, plaintiff filed a motion for production of documents that also included a brief opposition to the motion to dismiss.*fn1 Dkt. No. 42. For the reasons that follow, the court recommends that the motion be denied and defendant McCarvel file an answer to the complaint within sixty days.

II. Motion to Dismiss

Background

This case is proceeding on the original complaint, filed April 27, 2009, against defendant guards Ralls, Scruggs, Ramirez and McCarvel.*fn2

Only defendant McCarvel has brought the instant motion to dismiss.*fn3

This case arises out of an incident on April 30, 2007, whereby plaintiff alleges that Ralls, Scruggs and Ramirez used excessive force against plaintiff. Plaintiff contends that defendant McCarvel failed to prevent the use of force by the other defendants and was responsible for the building where the incident occurred. On September 29, 2009, the court deemed service appropriate for claims of excessive force against Ralls, Scruggs and Ramirez and for McCarvel insofar as the complaint alleged McCarvel failed to prevent the others from using excessive force against plaintiff. Dkt. No. 15 at 2.

Legal Standard

The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA) amended 42 U.S.C. § 1997e to provide that "[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). Exhaustion in prisoner cases covered by § 1997e(a) is mandatory. Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002). Exhaustion is a prerequisite for all prisoner suits regarding the conditions of their confinement, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong. Porter, 534 U.S. at 532.

Exhaustion of all "available" remedies is mandatory; those remedies need not meet federal standards, nor must they be "plain, speedy and effective." Id. at 524; Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 740, n. 5 (2001). Even when the prisoner seeks relief not available in grievance proceedings, notably money damages, exhaustion is a prerequisite to suit. Booth, 532 U.S. at 741. A prisoner "seeking only money damages must complete a prison administrative process that could provide some sort of relief on the complaint stated, but no money." Id. at 734.*fn4

A prisoner need not exhaust further levels of review once he has either received all the remedies that are "available" at an intermediate level of review, or has been reliably informed by an administrator that no more remedies are available. Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 934-35 (9th Cir. 2005). As there can be no absence of exhaustion unless some relief remains available, a movant claiming lack of exhaustion must demonstrate that pertinent relief remained available, whether at unexhausted levels or through awaiting the results of the relief already granted as a result of that process. Brown, 422 F.3d at 936-37.

The PLRA requires proper exhaustion of administrative remedies. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 83-84 (2006). "Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the course of its proceedings." Id. at 90-91. Thus, compliance with prison grievance procedures is required by the PLRA to properly exhaust. Id. The PLRA's exhaustion requirement cannot be satisfied "by filing an untimely or otherwise procedurally defective administrative grievance or appeal." Id. at 83-84.

"The level of detail necessary in a grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary from system to system and claim to claim, but it is the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of proper exhaustion." Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007). Where a prison's grievance procedures do not specify the requisite level of factual specificity required in the grievance, "'a grievance suffices if it alerts the prison to the nature of the wrong for which redress is sought.'" Griffin v. Arpaio, 557 F.3d 1117, 1120 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Strong v. David, 297 F.3d 646, 650 (7th Cir. 2002)). The grievance need not include legal terminology or legal theories unless they are needed to provide notice of the harm being grieved. Id. Nor must a grievance include every ...


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