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Norris Dajon Miller v. Warden

March 12, 2013

NORRIS DAJON MILLER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT, GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST, DISMISSING ACTION WITHOUT PREJUDICE, DENYING MOTION TO VACATE SCHEDULING ORDER AS MOOT, AND DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO ENTER JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS (Docs. 41, 44, and 48)

Order on Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Default

I. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Exhaust

A. Procedural History

Plaintiff Norris Dajon Miller ("Plaintiff"), a former state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 23, 2010. This action for damages is proceeding on Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed on April 18, 2011, against Defendants Johnson, Lyon, Moore, Teater, and Hyuck ("Defendants") for use of excessive physical force, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The incident giving rise to Plaintiff's claim allegedly occurred on January 8, 2008, at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California.

On October 10, 2012, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust the available administrative remedies. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b). Plaintiff filed an opposition on November 7, 2012, Defendants filed a reply on November 15, 2012, and the motion has been submitted upon the record.*fn1 Local Rule 230(l). For the reasons which follow, Defendants' motion to dismiss shall be granted.

Defendants' motion to vacate the scheduling order, filed on March 1, 2013, shall be denied as moot in light of this order.

B. Legal Standard

Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, "[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, 127 S.Ct. 910 (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. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, 121 S.Ct. 1819 (2001), and the exhaustion requirement applies to all suits relating to prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 435 U.S. 516, 532, 122 S.Ct. 983 (2002).

The failure to exhaust in compliance with section 1997e(a) is an affirmative defense under which the 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 is subject to an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion, and in resolving the motion, the Court may look beyond the pleadings and decide disputed issues of fact. Stratton v. Buck, 697 F.3d 1004, 1008 (9th Cir. 2012); Morton v. Hall, 599 F.3d 942, 945 (9th Cir. 2010); Wyatt, 315 F.3d at 1119-20. If the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust, the proper remedy is dismissal without prejudice. Jones, 549 U.S. at 223-24; Lira v. Herrrera, 427 F.3d 1164, 1175-76 (9th Cir. 2005).

C. Discussion

1. Appeals Process

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has an administrative grievance system for prisoners to appeal any departmental decision, action, condition, or policy having an adverse effect on prisoners' welfare. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.1. During the relevant time period, the process was initiated by submitting a CDC Form 602 describing the problem and the action requested, tit. 15, § 3084.2(a), and appeal had to be submitted within fifteen working days of the event being appealed or of the receipt of the unacceptable lower level decision, tit. 15, § 3084.6(c).*fn2 Up to four levels of appeal may be involved, including the informal level, first formal level, second formal level, and third formal level, also known as the Director's Level. Tit. 15, ยง 3084.5. To satisfy section ...


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