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Lonnie Williams v. J. Lopez

August 12, 2011

LONNIE WILLIAMS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. LOPEZ, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER STRIKING PLAINTIFF'S SURREPLY (DOC. 49) FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS BE GRANTED (DOC. 33) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE WITHIN EIGHTEEN DAYS

Findings And Recommendations

I. Background

Plaintiff Lonnie Williams ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's complaint, filed May 27, 2010, against Defendant J. Lopez for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

On March 24, 2011, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to the unenumerated portion of Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for Plaintiff's failure to exhaust available administrative remedies. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss, Doc. 33. On July 18, 2011, Plaintiff filed an opposition. Pl.'s Opp'n, Doc. 47.*fn1 On July 22, 2011, Defendant filed his reply. Defs.' Reply, Doc. 49. The matter is submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

Plaintiff filed a "second opposition" on August 1, 2011. The Court construes this second opposition as a surreply. Surreplies are generally not permitted. See L. R. 230(l). The Court did not grant, or request, a surreply. Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's surreply, filed August 1, 2011, is STRICKEN.*fn2

II. Summary Of Complaint

Plaintiff was incarcerated at North Kern State Prison "NKSP") in Delano, California, where the events giving rise to this action occurred. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant J. Lopez assaulted Plaintiff by slamming Plaintiff against a metal box, bruising Plaintiff's left breast, and scratching Plaintiff's neck. Plaintiff sufficiently alleged a claim for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment. This incident occurred on or around April 18, 2010.

III. Exhaustion Of Administrative Remedies

A. 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, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007); McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Cir. 2002) (per curiam). Exhaustion is required regardless of the relief sought by the prisoner and regardless of the relief offered by the process, Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001), and the exhaustion requirement applies to all prisoner suits relating to prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 435 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, 549 U.S. at 216; 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. 1998) (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. Id. 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. Discussion

The CDCR has an administrative grievance system for prisoner complaints. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.1 (2010). The process is initiated by submitting a CDC Form 602. Id. § 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. § 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. §§ 3084.5, 3084.6(c). In order to satisfy § 1997e(a), California state prisoners are required to use this process to exhaust their claims prior to filing suit. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85-86 (2006); McKinney, 311 F.3d at 1199-1201. Exhaustion does not always require pursuit of an appeal through the Director's Level of Review. What is required to satisfy exhaustion is a fact specific inquiry, and may be dependent upon prison ...


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