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Jones v. Corizon

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

October 24, 2014

TYRUS JONES, #287250, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON, et al., Defendants.

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

WALLACE CAPEL, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, Tyrus Jones ("Jones"), a state inmate, challenges the adequacy of medical treatment provided to him for urinary tract and kidney infections resulting from his use of an indwelling catheter while incarcerated at the Kilby Correctional Facility ("Kilby"). Jones names Corizon, the contract medical care provider for the Alabama prison system, and Dallas Diaz, Kevin Brown, and Desiree Neal, identified by Jones as Ms. Neil, all nurses at Kilby during the time period relevant to the complaint, as defendants in this cause of action.

The defendants filed a special report and supporting evidentiary materials addressing Jones' claims for relief. In these documents, the defendants assert that the complaint is due to be dismissed because Jones failed to exhaust an administrative remedy available to him through Corizon prior to initiation of this case. Defendants' Special Report - Doc. No. 31 at 6-8, 19-21. The defendants base their exhaustion defense on the plaintiff's failure to appeal responses to grievances filed regarding the claims pending before this court as allowed by Corizon's grievance procedure before seeking relief from this court. In addition, the defendants maintain and the medical records compiled contemporaneously with the treatment provided to Jones indicate that the defendants did not act with deliberate indifference to Jones' medical needs. Id. at 8-18, 22-27.

"[A]n exhaustion defense... is not ordinarily the proper subject for a summary judgment; instead it should be raised in a motion to dismiss, or be treated as such if raised in a motion for summary judgment." Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1374-75 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted). Therefore, the court will treat the defendants' report as a motion to dismiss. Id.; Order of September 18, 2014 - Doc. No. 34.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Eleventh Circuit has determined that "the question of exhaustion under the PLRA [is] a threshold matter' that [federal courts must] address before considering the merits of the case. Chandler v. Crosby, 379 F.3d 1278, 1286 (11th Cir. 2004). Because exhaustion is mandated by the statute, [a court has] no discretion to waive this requirement. Alexander v. Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321, 1325-26 (11th Cir. 1998)." Myles v. Miami-Dade Cnty. Corr. & Rehab. Dep't, 476 F.Appx. 364, 366 (11th Cir. 2012). Based on the foregoing, the court will "resolve this issue first." Id.

When deciding whether a prisoner has exhausted his remedies, the court should first consider the plaintiff's and the defendants' versions of the facts, and if they conflict, take the plaintiff's version of the facts as true. "If in that light, the defendant is entitled to have the complaint dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, it must be dismissed." Turner v. Burnside, 541 F.3d 1077, 1082 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Bryant, 530 F.3d at 1373-74). If the complaint is not subject to dismissal at this step, then the court should make "specific findings in order to resolve the disputed factual issues related to exhaustion." Id. (citing Bryant, 530 F.3d at 1373-74, 1376).

Myles, 476 F.Appx. at 366.

Upon review of the undisputed facts of this case as evidenced by the evidentiary materials filed by the defendants, the court concludes that the defendants' motion to dismiss is due to be granted.

III. DISCUSSION

Jones challenges the constitutionality of medical treatment he received for infections resulting from his use of catheters to void urine. In response to the complaint, the defendants deny Jones' allegations and further argue that this case is subject to dismissal because Jones failed to properly exhaust the administrative remedy supplied via the medical care provider prior to filing this complaint as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).

The Prison Litigation Reform Act compels exhaustion of available administrative remedies before a prisoner can seek relief in federal court on a § 1983 complaint. Specifically, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) states 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." "Congress has provided in § 1997(e)(a) that an inmate must exhaust irrespective of the forms of relief sought and offered through administrative remedies." Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 n.6 (2001). "[T]he PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong." Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). Exhaustion of all available administrative remedies is a precondition to litigation and a federal court cannot waive the exhaustion requirement. Booth, 532 U.S. at 741; Alexander v. Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321, 1325 (11th Cir. 1998); Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81 (2006). Moreover, "the PLRA exhaustion requirement requires proper exhaustion. " Woodford, 548 U.S. at 93 (emphasis added).

Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules [as a precondition to filing suit in federal court] because no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the courts of its proceedings.... Construing § 1997e(a) to require proper exhaustion... fits with the general scheme of the PLRA, whereas [a contrary] interpretation [allowing an inmate to bring suit in federal ...

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