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Thomas v. Reyna

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 10, 2019

ROBERT QUINCY THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
L. REYNA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER RESCINDING ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE (ECF NO. 9.)

          GARY S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Robert Quincy Thomas, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on September 4, 2019. (ECF No. 1.)

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff indicates that he did not exhaust his administrative remedies at the prison, stating:

“I have filed the grievance but the grievance process can take months to exhaust within CDCR, and due to the seriousness of my claim and me feeling that named defendants are a threat to my life, I got to file my claim as soon as possible. Administrative remedies will be exhausted.”

(Compl., ECF No. 1 at 2.)

         On September 26, 2019, the court issued an order to show cause, requiring Plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be dismissed based on his representation in the Complaint that he did not exhaust his administrative remedies. (ECF No. 8.)

         On October 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a response to the court's order to show cause. (ECF No. 10.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff's brings claims for excessive force under the Eighth Amendment against prison correctional officers based on a cell extraction on May 11, 2019, at CSP-Corcoran where Plaintiff is currently incarcerated.

         Plaintiff's claims are subject to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). “The PLRA mandates that inmates exhaust all available administrative remedies before filing ‘any suit challenging prison conditions,' including, but not limited to, suits under § 1983.” Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1171 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006)). The action is subject to dismissal and Plaintiff may not proceed in this action if he has not exhausted his administrative remedies. See, e.g., Albino, 747 F.3d at 1162 (in rare cases where a failure to exhaust is clear from the face of the complaint, it may be dismissed for failure to state a claim); Medina v. Sacramento Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, No. 2:16-cv-0765 AC P, 2016 WL 6038181, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 14, 2016) (“When it is clear from the face of the complaint and any attached exhibits that a plaintiff did not exhaust his available administrative remedies before commencing an action, the action may be dismissed on screening for failure to state a claim.”)

         The Ninth Circuit has recognized that the PLRA does not require exhaustion when circumstances render administrative remedies “effectively unavailable.” Andres v. Marshall, 867 F.3d 1076, 1078 (9th Cir. 2017) (citing Nunez v. Duncan, 591 F.3d 1217, 1226 (9th Cir. 2010)). In Ross v. Blake, the Supreme Court agreed, holding that § 1997e(a) requires an inmate to exhaust only those grievance procedures “that are capable of use to obtain some relief for the action complained of.” - U.S. -, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1859, 195 L.Ed.2d 117 (2016) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Andres, 867 F.3d at 1078. By way of a non-exhaustive list, the Court recognized three circumstances in which an administrative remedy was not capable of use to obtain relief despite being officially available to the inmate: (1) when the administrative procedure “operates as a simple dead end” because officers are “unable or consistently unwilling to provide any relief to aggrieved inmates”; (2) when the administrative scheme is “so opaque that it becomes, practically speaking, incapable of use” because “no ordinary prisoner can discern or navigate it”; and (3) when prison administrators “thwart inmates from taking advantage of a grievance process through machination, misrepresentation, or intimidation.” Id. at 1078 (quoting Ross, 136 S.Ct. at 1859-60.)

         Threats Against Plaintiff

         In his response to the court's order to show cause, Plaintiff contends that he was not required to exhaust his administrative remedies because he was being threatened by staff at CSP-Corcoran and felt his life was in danger. Plaintiff felt that filing this ...


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