United States District Court, E.D. California
AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT COURT GRANT DEFENDANTS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OBJECTIONS DUE IN 14 DAYS ECF NO. 30
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO VACATE THE PRESENT
DISCOVERY AND SCHEDULING ORDER ECF NO. 38
Matthew McClane is a state prisoner proceeding without
counsel with this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. McClane alleges that defendants, who are employees of
the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(“CDCR”), violated his Eighth Amendment rights by
failing to protect him from a violent cellmate. See
ECF No. 9. On September 13, 2018, defendants moved for
summary judgment, arguing that McClane failed to properly
exhaust administrative remedies. See ECF No. 30.
McClane filed an opposition on October 30, and the defendants
filed a reply on November 2. See ECF Nos. 35 and
recommend granting defendants' motion for summary
judgment. McClane did not ` exhaust all available
administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (“PLRA”). See 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a). McClane did not obtain a decision on the
merits at all three levels of administrative review because
he filed an untimely initial complaint.
January 2016, McClane asked defendants to move cells because
he was having difficulties with his cellmate. See
ECF No. 9 at 14; see also ECF No. 30-2 at 2. The
defendants did not accommodate McClane's request. ECF No.
9 at 14-26; ECF No. 30-2 at 2. On January 27, 2016,
McClane's cellmate attacked and injured him. ECF No. 9 at
5; ECF No. 30-2 at 2.
CDCR administrative appeals system has three levels. McClane
submitted an initial administrative grievance on March 21,
2016. ECF No. 9 at 5. He received a first-level
administrative response on April 22 and a second-level
response on July 26, 2016. See id. at 8 and 10. The
first- and second-level responses considered the merits of
McClane's grievance. Id.
received a third-level response on February 22, 2017. This
response did not consider the merits of the grievance, but
instead informed McClane that he had not filed his grievance
“within the prescribed time constraints” of the
administrative process and, thus, his appeal would be
canceled. Id. at 13. The response concluded by
informing McClane that “a separate appeal can be filed
on the cancellation decision.” Id. McClane did
not appeal this cancellation decision. See, e.g.,
ECF No. 35 at 10. Instead, he proceeded to federal court.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when 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). A
factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable trier of fact
could find in favor of either party at trial. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986). The disputed fact is material if it “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” See Id. at 248.
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the ` absence of a genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325
(1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the
non-moving party may not rest on the allegations or denials
in its pleading, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, but
“must come forward with ‘specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
making a summary judgment determination, a court “may
not engage in credibility determinations or the weighing of
evidence, ” Manley v. Rowley, 847 F.3d 705,
711 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted), and it must view the
inferences drawn from the underlying facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. See United States v.
Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) (per curiam);
Orr v. Bank of America, NT & SA, 285 F.3d 764,
772 (9th Cir. 2002).
PLRA requires that “[n]o action shall be brought with
respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this
title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner . . . until
such administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Exhaustion under
the PLRA “demands compliance with an agency's
deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no
adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing
some orderly structure on the course of its
proceedings.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81,
90-91 (2006). Here, California law required that McClane file
his grievance within thirty days of the alleged events.
See Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.8(b)(1)(2).
The relevant events-the denial of McClane's request for
different housing and the attack-took place in January of
2016. McClane's initial grievance, submitted on March 21,
2016, was thus untimely.
the issue isn't raised in the briefs, McClane's case
is complicated by the fact that his grievance received two
initial responses on the merits before it was canceled on
procedural grounds. Under some circumstances, a prison's
failure to invoke a procedural bar can result in an inmate
satisfying the exhaustion requirement, even if that
inmate's original complaint was procedurally flawed.
See Reyes v. Smith, 810 F.3d 654, 658 (9th Cir.
2016) (“When prison officials opt not to enforce a
procedural rule but instead decide an inmate's grievance
on the merits, the purposes of the PLRA exhaustion
requirement have been fully served.”); see
also` Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 125 (2d