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Thomas Roy Woodson v. M. Ramirez

March 28, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


Plaintiff Thomas Roy Woodson, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that various correctional officers and prison officials at Calipatria State Prison violated his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit. Defendants also move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a plausible claim. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion, to which Defendants replied.*fn1 See Doc. Nos. 19, 22. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies and therefore GRANTS Defendants' motion.


This action arises out of events occurring at Calipatria State Prison, in Calipatria, California.*fn2 On May 18, 2011, Plaintiff was working in the main prison kitchen. After receiving permission from kitchen custody staff, Plaintiff reported to the "work change" area to be processed so he could pick up a purchase from the canteen. Defendant Ramirez ordered Plaintiff to remove his clothing as required. Ramirez harassed Plaintiff verbally. Plaintiff placed his shirt on the counter for inspection and Ramirez yelled "don't hit me with your shirt" and ordered Plaintiff to return to work. Plaintiff's supervising officer escorted Plaintiff back to work.

When he returned to work, Plaintiff asked a fellow inmate whether he had trouble with Defendant Ramirez. The inmate told Plaintiff "yeah, the guy doesn't like blacks and looks for any reason to set them up." Approximately forty-five minutes after returning to work, Plaintiff was summoned to the program office where Defendant Barra instructed the escorting officer to place Plaintiff in a "strip cage" (a standing room only metal cage). Plaintiff removed his clothing, and approximately one hour later a medical training assistant arrived to conduct a medical report interview. Plaintiff reported that he had sustained no injuries.

Plaintiff spent approximately three hours in the strip cage. He called for someone to let him use the bathroom, but no one responded. He had to urinate in the cage and stand in the urine for an hour. Defendant Barra observed this and laughed. Barra informed Plaintiff that he would be sent to administrative segregation for committing battery on a peace officer.

The following day, Defendant Kuzil-Ryan came to Plaintiff's cell in administrative segregation and conducted an administrative hearing. Defendant Kuzil-Ryan contacted Defendant Ramirez via telephone to inquire whether he intended to dismiss the charges against Plaintiff. Defendant Ramirez refused to dismiss the charges. Approximately ten days later, an Inmate Classification Committee meeting took place regarding Plaintiff's placement in administrative segregation. Plaintiff was not allowed to participate in the meeting.

During his placement in administrative segregation, Plaintiff was denied supplies, never received a blanket, and had to use a torn towel. He was denied his religious meat alternative diet, as well as regular showers. He had to clean himself using the cell sink without hot water. Plaintiff spent thirty days in administrative segregation prior to the adjudication of the charges against him. A disciplinary hearing was held on June 19, 2011. Defendant Sigler determined that Plaintiff was not guilty of the charges. Plaintiff remained in administrative segregation for an additional twenty-six days after being found not guilty.

As a result of his time in administrative segregation, Plaintiff suffered weight loss, emotional trauma, and other deprivations and punishments. Plaintiff requested assistance from various supervisors, such as Defendants Builteman and McEwen, and was ignored. Plaintiff requested assistance from Defendant Cebreros, a counselor, and received none.

Plaintiff alleges that he exhausted all forms of administrative relief prior to filing suit. According to Plaintiff, his grievance was partially granted at the second level of review. He subsequently appealed to the third level of review, but the appeal was rejected.


Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, 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). A motion challenging a prisoner's failure to exhaust administrative remedies is properly brought as an unenumerated 12(b) motion.

Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003). Pursuant to Ninth Circuit law, 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. If the district court concludes that the prisoner has not exhausted non-judicial remedies, the proper remedy is dismissal of the claim without prejudice." Wyatt, 315 F.3d at 1119 (internal citations omitted).

The burden is on the defendant to prove plaintiff failed to exhaust available administrative remedies. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007). The defendant's burden of establishing an inmate's failure to exhaust administrative remedies, however, has been characterized by the Ninth Circuit as "very low." Albino v. Baca, 697 F.3d 1023, 1031 (9th Cir. 2012). And because proper exhaustion is necessary, a prisoner cannot satisfy the PLRA exhaustion requirement by filing an untimely or otherwise procedurally defective administrative grievance or appeal. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90-93 (2006). Thus, a defendant need only show the existence of a grievance procedure the plaintiff did not use. Albino, 697 F.3d at 1031, citing Hilao v. Estate of Marcos, 103 F.3d 767, 778 n.5 (9th Cir. 1996) and Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 936-37 (9th Cir. 2005). Once the ...

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