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Germany v. Coelho

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 9, 2017

FRANKIE L. GERMANY, Plaintiff,
v.
M. COELHO, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST THE ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES [ECF NO. 24]

         Plaintiff Frankie L. Germany is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on Plaintiff's alleged failure to exhaust the administrative remedies, filed on September 28, 2017.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         This action is proceeding against Defendants Ward, Garcia-Fernandez, Hanson and Coelho for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         On September 11, 2017, Defendants filed an answer to the complaint.

         On September 13, 2017, the Court issued the discovery and scheduling order.

         As previously stated, on September 28, 2017, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust the administrative remedies. Plaintiff did not file an opposition and the time period to do so has passed. Accordingly, the motion is deemed submitted for review without oral argument. Local Rule 230(1).

         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.

         “An inmate is required to exhaust only available remedies.” Albino, 747 F.3d at 1171 (citing Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 736 (2001)). “To be available, a remedy must be available ‘as a practical matter'; it must be ‘capable of use; at hand.'” Albino, 747 F.3d at 1171 (quoting Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 937 (9th Cir. 2005)). In Ross v. Blake, the Court set forth the following three examples of when the administrative remedies are not available: (1) the “administrative procedure … operates as a simple dead end-with officers unable or consistently unwilling to provide any relief to aggrieved inmates;” (2) the “administrative scheme … [is] so opaque that it becomes, practically speaking, incapable of use … to that no ordinary prisoner can make sense of what it demands; and (3) “prison administrators thwart inmates from taking advantage of a grievance process through machination, misrepresentation, or intimidation.” Ross v. Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1859-60 (2006) (citations omitted). In addition, when an inmate's administrative grievance is improperly rejected on procedural grounds, exhaustion may be excused as effectively unavailable. Sapp v. Kimbrell, 623 F.3d 813, 823 (9th Cir. 2010); see also Nunez v. Duncan, 591 F.3d 1217, 1224-1226 (9th Cir. 2010) (warden's mistake rendered prisoner's administrative remedies “effectively unavailable”); Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 940 (9th Cir. 2005) (plaintiff not required to proceed to third level where appeal granted at second level and no further relief was available).

         B. Summary ...


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