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Bishop v. Lopez

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 9, 2016

ROBERT BISHOP, Plaintiff
v.
RAUL LOPEZ, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 78]

         Plaintiff Robert Bishop is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff consented to United States magistrate judge jurisdiction on January 26, 2011. (ECF No. 9.) Defendants declined United States magistrate judge jurisdiction on June 25, 2015; therefore, this matter was referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

         Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment, filed September 24, 2015. (ECF No. 78.)

         I.

         RELEVANT HISTORY

         This action is proceeding against Defendants Lopez, Germond, Rodriguez, Vogel, Jones, Cano, Marshall, Cruz, Tucker, Mauldin, Maita, and Dynsinki regarding conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         On June 23, 2015, Defendants filed an answer to the second amended complaint. (ECF No. 51.) On June 25, 2015, the Court issued the discovery and scheduling order. (ECF No. 52.)

         On September 24, 2015, Defendants filed a motions for summary judgment based on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust the available administrative remedies in compliance with 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1166 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 403 (2014).[1] (ECF Nos. 78.) On June 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed an opposition to Defendants' motion, and Defendants filed a reply on June 16, 2016. (ECF Nos. 127, 128, 132.)

         On June 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed a surreply, and on July 1, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to strike Plaintiff's surreply as an unauthorized pleading. (ECF Nos. 133, 134.)

         On February 4, 2016, Defendants Tarnoff, Soto, Harrington, Castro, Horton, Biter, Tyson, and Hudson filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition. (ECF No. 104.) On February 5, 2016, Defendant Sclafani filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition. (ECF No. 105.)

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Statutory Exhaustion Requirement

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) of 1995, requires that prisoners exhaust “such administrative remedies as are available” before commencing a suit challenging prison conditions.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Ross v. Blake, __ U.S. __ 136 S.Ct. 1850 (June 6, 2016) (“An inmate need exhaust only such administrative remedies that are 'available.'''). Exhaustion is mandatory unless unavailable. “The obligation to exhaust 'available' remedies persists as long as some remedy remains 'available.' Once that is no longer the case, then there are no'remedies … available, ' and the prisoner need not further pursue the grievance.” Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 935 (9th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original) (citing Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 739 (2001)).

         This statutory exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (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 (2001), and unexhausted claims may not be brought to court, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (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.

         B. Summary Judgment Standard

         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. “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.” Id. 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.

         III.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Description of CDCR’s Administrative Remedy Process

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), and CDCR has an administrative remedy process for inmate grievances. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.1 (2014). Compliance with section 1997e(a) is mandatory and state prisoners are required to exhaust CDCR's administrative remedy process prior to filing suit in federal court. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85-86 (2006); Sapp v. Kimbrell, 623 F.3d 813, 818 (9th Cir. 2010). Inmates are required to submit appeals on a standardized form (CDCR Form 602), attach necessary supporting documentation, and submit the appeal within thirty days of the disputed event. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, §§ 3084.2, 3084.3(a), 3084.8(b). In 2009, the timeline for submitting inmate appeals fifteen working days, not thirty days. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.6(c) (2009). Inmates appeals must be submitted timely, ...


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