United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT [Doc. No. 34]
MICHAEL M. ANELLO United States District Judge
Raul Arellano, Jr. is a state prisoner proceeding pro
se in this civil rights action filed pursuant to the
Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants E. Ojeda
and L. Helmick move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56. See Doc. Nos. 34, 39.
Defendants argue that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit, as
required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Plaintiff
filed an opposition to the motion, to which Defendants
replied. See Doc. Nos. 37, 42. In addition, the
Court permitted Plaintiff to file a sur-reply. See
Doc. No. 48. The Court took the motion under submission on
the briefs and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local
Rule 7.1.d.1. See Doc. No. 43. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court DENIES
action arises out of events occurring on or about April 17,
2014 through April 22, 2014, at R. J. Donovan Correctional
Facility in San Diego, California. According to Plaintiff,
during that time he was housed in solitary confinement. On
the evening of April 17, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that the
toilet in his cell overflowed. Due to the persistence of the
problem, and the resulting unsanitary conditions in his cell,
Plaintiff asked Defendant Lieutenant Helmick for assistance.
Defendant Helmick told Plaintiff to unclog the toilet with
his hands. At Defendant Helmick's suggestion, Plaintiff
submitted a California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) Form 22 Inmate/Parolee
Request for Interview, Item or Service on April 20, 2016. The
request was filled out to the attention of Defendant Sergeant
Ojeda. On April 23, 2016, Defendant Ojeda responded to the
request, noting that the toilet was no longer clogged. Ojeda
advised Plaintiff to request cleaning supplies from the floor
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
inmates seeking relief from prison conditions must exhaust
available administrative remedies prior to bringing any suit
challenging prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)
(“No action shall be brought with respect to prison
conditions . . . until such administrative remedies as are
available are exhausted.”); Porter v. Nussle,
534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002) (“exhaustion is mandatory . .
. unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court”).
“[T]he prison's requirements . . . define the
boundaries of proper exhaustion.” Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007). “[T]he exhaustion
question in PLRA cases should be decided as early as
feasible.” Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1170
(9th Cir. 2014).
Ninth Circuit, a motion for summary judgment is generally the
appropriate vehicle for raising the plaintiff's failure
to exhaust administrative remedies because “failure to
exhaust is an affirmative defense under the PLRA, and . . .
inmates are not required to specially plead or demonstrate
exhaustion in their complaints.” Jones, 549
U.S. at 216; Albino, 747 F.3d at 1170 (“[A]
motion for summary judgment, as opposed to an unenumerated
Rule 12(b) motion, [is the proper procedural device] to
decide exhaustion”). The burden is on the defendant to
prove that there was an available administrative remedy that
the plaintiff failed to exhaust. See Albino, 747
F.3d at 1172. If the defendant meets that burden, the burden
shifts to the prisoner to present evidence showing that there
is something in his particular case that made the existing
and generally available administrative remedies effectively
unavailable to him. Id.
Court must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party and determine whether a genuine issue of
material fact precludes entry of judgment. Comite de
Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach,
657 F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and
citation omitted), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1566 (2012). The
Court determines only whether there is a genuine issue for
trial and, in doing so, it must liberally construe
Plaintiff's filings because he is a pro se
prisoner. Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th
Cir. 2010) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(CDCR) provides its prisoners the right to appeal
administratively “any departmental decision, action,
condition or policy perceived by those individuals as
adversely affecting their welfare.” Cal. Code Regs.
tit. 15, § 3084.1(a). It also provides them the right to
file appeals alleging misconduct by correctional officers
and/or officials. Id. § 3084.1(e). On January
28, 2011, the inmate appeals process was modified and limited
to three levels of review with provisions allowing the first
level to be bypassed under specific circumstances.
Id. § 3084.7. If a prisoner is not satisfied
with the response he receives at the first level of review,
he may submit his appeal to the second level of review, after
which he may appeal to the third and final level.
Id. § 3084.7. In order to satisfy section
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). Proper
exhaustion requires using all steps of an administrative
process and complying with “deadlines and other
critical procedural rules.” Id. at 90.
Plaintiff's Inmate Appeals
November 26, 2014, the R. J. Donovan Inmate Appeals Office
(“IAO”) received Plaintiff's Inmate 602
Appeal, Log No. 14-4202, regarding the toilet incident.
appeal, Plaintiff stated:
On May 1, 2014 I send a 602 to Appeal Coordinator raising the
same issue I'll be raising here. I then have been waiting
till this day for a response. I didn't send another 602
sooner because it can get cancel [sic] due to Title 15 rules
for duplication. Since it doesn't say how much time it
has to pass in order to file another 602, that is why I