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Leon v. Martin

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

August 6, 2018




         This cause is before the undersigned for a report and recommendation regarding Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [2');">21] and related filings. All moving Defendants, [1] including the Defendant who was served with process, Warden Martin, assert that the claims of Ivan Leon [hereinafter “Plaintiff” or “Leon”] should be dismissed due to his failure to exhaust the administrative remedies that were available to him through the Bureau of Prison's [“BOP”] mandatory process set forth in 2');">28 C.F.R. §§ 542');">2.13(a). Defendants also contend that the Complaint should be dismissed due to its failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         After a review of the pleadings and exhibits, and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that the motion to dismiss, or for summary judgment, be granted based upon Leon's non-exhaustion.


         Leon is a federal inmate incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex (“FCC”) Coleman located in Coleman, Florida. When the incident which formed the basis of his Complaint occurred, May 14, 2');">2016, he was an inmate at the FCC-Yazoo, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, with an expected release date of June 7, 2');">202');">24.

         Plaintiff filed this civil rights action on April 17, 2');">2017, claiming that he was stabbed by other inmates on May 14, 2');">2016, in the recreation cage of the United States Penitentiary's (“USP”) Special Housing Unit (“SHU”). In his Complaint, Leon contends that he and his SHU cellmate, Albert Donald, were placed in an outside recreation cage by Bureau staff members with two other inmates. These other two inmates had “not been searched for weapons” and they immediately began attacking Leon. They stabbed him multiple times about the head and upper torso area. Leon contends that he was in SHU because he sought protective custody, so these inmates should have been screened and searched before he was placed in a cage with them.

         Defendants filed the instant motion and attached their supporting exhibits, including the sworn Declaration of Lisa Singleton (Exhibit B, [2');">21-2');">2]).


         Failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense, so these Defendants have the burden of demonstrating that Leon failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 2');">216 (2');">2007). At the summary judgment stage, this means that Defendants “must establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements of the defense of exhaustion to warrant summary judgment in their favor.” Dillon v. Rogers, 3d 2');">260');">596 F.3d 2');">260, 2');">266 (5th Cir. 2');">2010). The court shall grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that 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). “The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its burden.” Beck v. Tex. St. Board of Dental Exam'rs, 304 F.3d 62');">29, 633 (5th Cir. 2');">2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 317');">477 U.S. 317, 32');">27 (1986)). The burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Allen v. Rapides Parish Sch. Bd., 304 F.3d 619');">304 F.3d 619, 62');">21 (5th Cir. 2');">2000).

         As Defendants point out, the applicable section of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42');">2 U.S.C. § 1997(e), provides 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 confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.”

         The exhaustion requirement extends to Bivens suits by federal prisoners. Porter v. Nussle, 34 U.S. 516');">534 U.S. 516, 52');">24 (2');">2002');">2). The statute clearly requires an inmate bringing a civil rights action in this Court to first exhaust his available administrative remedies. Booth v. Churner, 32');">2 U.S. 731');">532');">2 U.S. 731, 739 (2');">2001). Exhaustion is no longer left to the discretion of the district court, but is mandatory. Porter v. Nussle, 34 U.S. 516');">534 U.S. 516, 52');">24 (2');">2002');">2). Exhaustion will not be excused when an inmate fails to timely exhaust his administrative remedies; the exhaustion requirement also means “proper exhaustion.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 83-84 (2');">2006). It is not enough to merely initiate the grievance process or to put prison officials on notice of a complaint; the grievance process must be carried through to its conclusion. Wright v. Hollingsworth, 2');">260 F.3d 357');">2');">260 F.3d 357, 358 (5th Cir. 2');">2001). This is so regardless of whether the inmate's ultimate goal is a remedy not offered by the administrative process, such as money damages. Id.

         In Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 2');">211 (2');">2007), the Supreme Court confirmed that exhaustion was mandatory under the PLRA and that “unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.” The United States Supreme Court reiterated in Ross v. Blake, 36 S.Ct. 1850');">136 S.Ct. 1850, 1856-57 (2');">2016), that exhaustion is mandatory and that a court may not excuse a failure to exhaust, “even to take ‘special circumstances' into account.” Judicial discretion is foreclosed. Id. “Time and again, this Court has rejected every attempt to deviate from the PLRA's textual mandate.” Id., citations omitted.

         The Fifth Circuit has confirmed that “the PLRA pre-filing exhaustion requirement is mandatory and non-discretionary, ” and that “district courts have no discretion to waive the PLRA's pre-filing exhaustion requirement.” Gonzalez v. Seal, 2');">2 F.3d 785');">702');">2 F.3d 785, 787-88 (5th Cir. 2');">2012');">2) (per curiam). The Fifth Circuit case of Wilson v. Epps, 3d 2');">296');">776 F.3d 2');">296, 2');">299-300 (5th Cir. 2');">2015), also confirms that strict compliance with the administrative remedy programs is required. Filing the federal lawsuit prior to the time has ended for the response by the ARP program is impermissible for proper exhaustion. Id.

         III. ...

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