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Bey v. Hedgepeth

November 19, 2010

RODNEY GRAVES BEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN A. HEDGEPETH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, RECOMMENDING THAT DEFENDANT SPRY'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST BE GRANTED (Doc. 64.) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE IN THIRTY DAYS

I. BACKGROUND

Rodney Graves Bey ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff commenced this action on November 5, 2008 at the Sacramento Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. (Doc. 1.) On November 12, 2008, the case was transferred to the Fresno Division of the Eastern District. (Doc. 4.) This action now proceeds on the First Amended Complaint filed on May 11, 2009, against defendant Correctional Officer ("C/O") Spry ("Defendant") for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.*fn1 (Doc. 33.)

On June 16, 2010, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss this action for failure to exhaust remedies. (Doc. 64.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on July 13, 2010, and Defendant filed a reply on July 21, 2010. (Docs. 68, 70.) Defendant's motion is now before the Court.

II. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS AND ALLEGATIONS*fn2

Plaintiff, who is currently housed at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, brings this action based on events which occurred while he was housed at Kern Valley State Prison. Plaintiff alleges that in March 2008, in retaliation against him for writing up C/O Wesselman, C/O Spry closed the cell door on Plaintiff's face. Plaintiff brings a claim for retaliation under the First Amendment against C/O Spry.

III. UNENUMERATED RULE 12(b) MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST

Defendant argues that Plaintiff's case should be dismissed, because Plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies until after he filed his complaint.

A. Statutory Exhaustion Requirement

Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), "[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 must complete the prison's administrative process, regardless of the relief sought by the prisoner and regardless of the relief offered by the process, as long as the administrative process can provide some sort of relief on the complaint stated. Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). "Proper exhaustion[, which] demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules . . . ." is required, Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006), and may not be satisfied "by filing an untimely or otherwise procedurally defective . . . appeal." Id. at 83-84.

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. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215-16 (2007); Wyatt, 315 F.3d at 1119. "[T]here can be no 'absence of exhaustion' unless some relief remains 'available.'" Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 936 (9th Cir. 2005). "[A] defendant must demonstrate that pertinent relief remained available, whether at unexhausted levels of the grievance process or through awaiting the results of relief already granted as a result of that process." Id. at 936-37. Therefore, if some remedy is available, Plaintiff has not exhausted his remedies.

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. 1998) (per curium)). 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.

B. CDCR's Administrative Grievance System

The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") 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). 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). 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. In order to satisfy § ...


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