United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
WALLACE CAPEL, Jr., Magistrate Judge.
In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, Desiney Deon Carter ("Carter"), a state inmate, challenges the adequacy of medical treatment provided to him for itchy skin, which he self-diagnosed as scabies, during his incarceration at the Ventress Correctional Facility ("Ventress"). Carter names Dr. Peasant, former correctional commissioner Kim Thomas, the State of Alabama, Warden Christopher Gordy and Nurse Walker as defendants in this cause of action.
The defendants filed a special report and supporting evidentiary materials addressing Carter's claim for relief. In these documents, the defendants adamantly deny that they acted with deliberate indifference to Carter's skin condition, a condition diagnosed by Dr. Peasant as merely dry skin, and, instead, assert that they provided appropriate treatment for his minor skin irritation. Defendants' Exhibit 3 - Doc. No. 12-3 at 3. The defendants further assert that the complaint is due to be dismissed because Carter failed to exhaust an administrative remedy available to him through contract medical provider, Corizon Medical Services, Inc. ("Corizon"), prior to initiation of this case. Defendants' Special Report - Doc. No. 12 at 6-7. The defendants base their exhaustion defense on Carter's failure to file a grievance regarding the medical treatment challenged in the instant complaint as allowed by Corizon's grievance procedure before seeking relief from this court. Id. at 7.
"[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); Trias v. Fla. Dep't of Corr., 587 F.App'x 531, 534 (11th Cir. 2014) (District court properly construed defendant's "motion for summary judgment as a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies"). The court will therefore treat the defendants' report as a motion to dismiss. Bryant, 530 F.3d at 1375; Order of February 5, 2015 - Doc. No. 14 (advising Carter that the defendants' report will be treated as a dispositive motion and explaining the manner in which to respond to such a motion).
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. and Rehab. Dep't, 476 F.App'x 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.App'x at 366. Consequently, a district court
may resolve disputed factual issues where necessary to the disposition of a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust [without a hearing]. See [ Turner, 541 F.3d at 1082]. The judge properly may consider facts outside of the pleadings [i.e., evidentiary materials submitted in support of the special report] to resolve a factual dispute as to exhaustion where doing so does not decide the merits, and the parties have a sufficient opportunity to develop the record. Bryant, 530 F.3d at 1376.
Trias, 587 F.App'x at 535.
Upon review of the undisputed facts of this case as evidenced by the evidentiary materials filed by the defendants, the court concludes that the ...