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Felder v. Henson

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 20, 2017

ANTHONY E. FELDER, Plaintiff,
v.
HENSON, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO GRANT DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 62) TWENTY-ONE DAY DEADLINE

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Defendants contend Plaintiff failed to exhaust the available administrative remedies on his claims prior to filing suit in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). (Doc. 62.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that Defendants' motion should be GRANTED.

         FINDINGS

         A. Legal Standards

         1. Summary Judgment Standard

         Any party may move for summary judgment, which the Court shall grant, if the movants show 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 v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1166 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 403 (2014); 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). 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 failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense which the defendants bear the burden of raising and proving on summary judgment. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216, 127 S.Ct. 910 (2007); Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166. The defense must produce evidence proving the failure to exhaust and summary judgment under Rule 56 is appropriate only if the undisputed evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, shows he failed to exhaust. Id.

         2. Statutory Exhaustion Requirement

         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). Prisoners are required to exhaust available administrative remedies prior to filing suit. Jones, 549 U.S. at 211; McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Cir. 2002). Inmates are required to “complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal court.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88 (2006). Inmates must adhere to the “critical procedural rules” specific to CDCR's process. Reyes v. Smith, --- F.3d ---, 2016 WL 142601, *2 (9th Cir. Jan. 12, 2016). The exhaustion requirement applies to all suits relating to prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 435 U.S. 516, 532 (2002), regardless of the relief both sought by the prisoner and offered by the process, Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001).

         On summary judgment, Defendants must first prove that there was an available administrative remedy which Plaintiff did not exhaust prior to filing suit. Williams v. Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1191 (9th Cir. 2015) (citing Albino, 747 F.3d at 1172). If Defendants carry their burden of proof, the burden of production shifts to 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.

         “Under § 1997e(a), the exhaustion requirement hinges on the “availability' of administrative remedies: An inmate, that is, must exhaust available remedies, but need not exhaust unavailable ones.” Ross v. Blake, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1858 (June 6, 2016). An inmate is required to exhaust those, but only those, grievance procedures that are “capable of use” to obtain “some relief for the action complained of.” Id. at 1858-59, citing Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 738 (2001). However, “a prisoner need not press on to exhaust further levels of review once he has [ ] received all ‘available' remedies.” See Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 935 (9th Cir. 2005).

         “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.” Williams, at 1166. The action should then be dismissed without prejudice. Jones, 549 U.S. at 223-24; Lira v. Herrrera, 427 F.3d 1164, 1175-76 (9th Cir. 2005).

         3.Summary of CDCR's Inmate Appeals Process

         The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) has a generally available 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, et seq. Compliance with section 1997e(a) requires California state prisoners to use that process to exhaust their ...


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