United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST BE GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART ECF Nos. 22, 34]
DENNIS L. BECK, Magistrate Judge.
I. Procedural History
Plaintiff Horace Mann Williams ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action on May 4, 2012. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
On May 13, 2013, the Court screened Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") and found cognizable claims against 1) Defendants Valdivia, Agu, Lopez, and Trimble for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment; and 2) Defendants Marisol, Sica, Agu, Valdivia, and Lopez for failure to protect Plaintiff from serious harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Court dismissed all other claims and Defendants.
On October 9, 2013, Defendants Agu, Valdivia, Sica and Trimble filed a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that the FAC fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and under the unenumerated provisions of Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies before he filed suit. Plaintiff filed an opposition on January 27, 2014. Defendants filed a reply on February 3, 2014.
On March 26, 2014, Defendant Lopez filed a motion to dismiss under the unenumerated provisions of Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies before he filed suit. Plaintiff filed an opposition on June 16, 2014. Defendant filed a reply on June 23, 2014.
On April 16, 2014, following the Ninth Circuit's decision in Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162 (9th Cir. 2014), the Court issued an Order converting the exhaustion portion of Defendants' motions to dismiss to motions for summary judgment. On October 31, 2014, the Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the ground that the FAC fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted by Defendants Agu, Valdivia, Sica, and Trimble. Still pending before the Court are Defendants' motions for summary judgment for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies. The motions are deemed submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).
II. 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). This statutory exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532, 122 S.Ct. 983 (2002) (quotation marks omitted), regardless of the relief sought by the prisoner or the relief offered by the process, Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, 121 S.Ct. 1819 (2001), and unexhausted claims may not be brought to court, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211, 127 S.Ct. 910 (2007) (citing Porter, 534 U.S. at 524).
The failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense, and the defendants bear the burden of raising and proving the absence of exhaustion. Jones, 549 U.S. at 216; Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166. "In the rare event that a failure to exhaust is clear from the face of the complaint, a defendant may move for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)." Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166. Otherwise, the defendants must produce evidence proving the failure to exhaust, and they are entitled to summary judgment under Rule 56 only if the undisputed evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, shows he failed to exhaust. Id.
Any party may move for summary judgment, and the Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (quotation marks omitted); Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166; Washington Mut. Inc. v. U.S., 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Each party's position, whether it be that a fact is disputed or undisputed, must be supported by (1) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including but not limited to depositions, documents, declarations, or discovery; or (2) showing that the materials cited do not establish the presence or absence of a genuine dispute or that the opposing party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1) (quotation marks omitted). The Court may consider other materials in the record not cited to by the parties, although it is not required to do so. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001); accord Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).
The defendants bear the burden of proof in moving for summary judgment for failure to exhaust, Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166, and they must "prove that there was an available administrative remedy, and that the prisoner did not exhaust that available remedy, " id. at 1172. If the defendants carry their burden, the burden of production shifts to the plaintiff "to come forward with evidence showing that there is something in his particular case that made the existing and generally available administrative remedies effectively unavailable to him." Id. This requires the plaintiff to "show more than the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence." In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986)). "If the undisputed evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the prisoner shows a failure to exhaust, a defendant is entitled to summary judgment under Rule 56." Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166. However, "[i]f material facts are disputed, summary judgment should be denied, and the district judge rather than a jury should determine the facts." Id.
A. Description of CDCR's Administrative ...