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Huskey v. Fisher

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

July 15, 2019

MATTHEW HUSKEY PLAINTIFF
v.
MARSHALL FISHER, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION [140] TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT, DISMISSING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS [144], [146] FOR A STATUS UPDATE

          JANE M. VIRDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the court's memorandum opinion and final judgment granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing the case for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court interprets the motion, using the liberal standard for pro se litigants set forth in Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), as a motion to amend judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), which must be filed within 28 days of entry of judgment. An order granting relief under Rule 59(e) is appropriate when: (1) there has been an intervening change in the controlling law, (2) where the movant presents newly discovered evidence that was previously unavailable, or (3) to correct a manifest error of law or fact. Schiller v. Physicians Res. Grp. Inc., 342 F.3d 563, 567 (5th Cir. 2003).

         Judicial Notice

         The plaintiff argues that, in granting summary judgment to the defendants, the court improperly took judicial notice of the online version of the MDOC Inmate Handbook regarding various reasons the Administrative Remedy Program might reject a grievance. In their motion for summary judgment, the defendants cited the Mississippi Department of Corrections website as a source for the grievance process as set forth in the Inmate Handbook - and requested that the court take judicial notice of its contents. In support of the request, the defendants cited Federal Rules of Evidence 201(b)(2), which states, “The court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it … can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” The court finds that the MDOC website comports with Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)(2). The Fifth Circuit has upheld taking judicial notice of the contents of a state agency's website. Hawk Aircargo, Inc. v. Chao., 418 F.3d 453, 457 (5th Cir.2005) (taking judicial notice of approval by the National Mediation Board published on the agency's website); Coleman v. Dretke, 409 F.3d 665, 667 (5th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (taking judicial notice of Texas agency's website). Thus, the court properly took judicial notice of the contents of the MDOC website.

         Due Process Regarding Knowledge of the Grievance Procedure

         The plaintiff argues that, in submitting his grievances, he relied upon the requirements set forth in the MDOC Standard Operating Procedures (“SOPs”) (which differ somewhat from the those in the Inmate Handbook) and was unaware that he could not request relief beyond the power of the MDOC to grant.[1] The plaintiff has not alleged that the MDOC website contains an inaccurate copy of the Inmate Handbook. Instead, he argues that he did not have access to the Inmate Handbook and had to rely on the SOPs, to which he had access. Thus, he argues that the court should grant his motion under Rule 59(e) to correct a manifest error of law or fact.

         The online Inmate Handbook (effective June 2016) lists five reasons to reject an inmate's grievance:

         V. SCREENING

         The Administrative Remedy Program Director will screen all requests prior to assignment to the First Step. If a request is rejected, it must be done for one of the following reasons, which shall be noted on Form ARP-1.

A. The relief sought is beyond The power of MDOC to grant,
B. The complaint concerns an action not yet taken or a decision not yet made,
C. There has been a time lapse of more than 30 days between the event and the initial request.
D. The inmate has requested a remedy for more than one incident (a ...

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