United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. MOORER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
U.S.C. § 1983 action is before the court on an amended
complaint filed by Michael Daryl Hawkins, an inmate confined
in the Lee County Detention Center at the time he initiated
this case. In the amended complaint, Hawkins challenges
conditions to which he was subjected during his incarceration
at the detention center. Doc. No. 5 at 2-4. Hawkins names Jay
Jones, the Sheriff of Lee County, Alabama, Corey Welch, the
jail's administrator, and Lt. Timothy Jones, a jailer at
the facility, as defendants. Hawkins seeks a declaratory
judgment, injunctive relief and monetary damages for the
alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Doc. 5 at 4.
defendants filed a special report and supporting evidentiary
materials addressing Hawkins's claims for relief. In
these documents, the defendants adamantly deny they acted in
violation of Hawkins' constitutional rights. The
defendants further argue this case is due to be dismissed
because prior to filing this cause of action Hawkins failed
to properly exhaust the administrative remedy available to
him at the Lee County Detention Center with respect to the
claims presented in the instant complaint. Doc. 16. at 6-9.
The defendants base the exhaustion defense on Hawkins'
failure to file a grievance pursuant to the jail's
grievance procedure addressing the claims on which he now
November 27, 2017, the court entered an order providing
Hawkins an opportunity to file a response to the
defendants' report in which he was advised to
“specifically address the defendants' arguments
that . . . [h]is claims are due to be dismissed because he
failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies
available at the Lee County Detention Center as required by
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)” prior to filing this federal
civil action. Doc. 17 at 1. The order also advised Hawkins
that his response should be supported by affidavits or
statements made under penalty of perjury and/or other
appropriate evidentiary materials. Id. at 3. The
order further cautioned Hawkins that unless
“sufficient legal cause” is shown within
fifteen days of entry of this order “why such
action should not be undertaken, . . . the court may at
any time [after expiration of the time for his filing a
response to the order] and without further notice to the
parties (1) treat the special report and any supporting
evidentiary materials as a motion to dismiss . . ., and (2)
after considering any response as allowed by this order, rule
on the motion . . . in accordance with the law.”
Id. 4 (footnote omitted). Hawkins failed to file a
response to this order within the time allowed by the court.
to the November 27, 2017 order, the court deems it
appropriate to treat the report filed by the defendants as
motions to dismiss with respect to the exhaustion defense.
Thus, this case is now pending on the defendants' motions
to dismiss. Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1374-1375
(11th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted) (“[A]n
exhaustion defense . . . is not ordinarily the proper subject
for a summary judgment [motion]; instead, it should be raised
in a motion to dismiss, or be treated as such if raised in a
motion for summary judgment.”); Trias v. Florida
Dept. of Corrections, 587 Fed.Appx. 531, 534 (11th Cir.
2014) (holding that the district court properly construed the
defendant's “motion for summary judgment as a
motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative
STANDARD OF REVIEW
addressing the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), the
Eleventh Circuit has
recognized that “[t]he plain language of th[is] statute
makes exhaustion a precondition to filing an action in
federal court.” Higginbottom v. Carter, 223
F.3d 1259, 1261 (11th Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (quoting
Freeman v. Francis, 196 F.3d 641, 643-44 (6th Cir.
1999)). This means that “until such administrative
remedies as are available are exhausted, ” a prisoner
is precluded from filing suit in federal court. See
id. (affirming dismissal of prisoner's civil rights
suit for failure to satisfy the mandatory exhaustion
requirements of the PLRA); Harris v. Garner, 190
F.3d 1279, 1286 (11th Cir. 1999) (“reaffirm[ing] that
section 1997e(a) imposes a mandatory requirement on prisoners
seeking judicial relief to exhaust their administrative
remedies” before filing suit in federal
court), modified on other grounds, 216 F.3d 970
(11th Cir. 2000) (en banc); Miller v. Tanner, 196
F.3d 1190, 1193 (11th Cir. 1999) (holding that under the
PLRA's amendments to § 1997e(a), “[a]n inmate
incarcerated in a state prison . . . must first comply with
the grievance procedures established by the state department
of corrections before filing a federal lawsuit under section
1983.”); Harper v. Jenkin, 179 F.3d 1311, 1312
(11th Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal of
prisoner's civil suit for failure to satisfy the
mandatory exhaustion requirements of § 1997e(a));
Alexander v. Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321, 1328 (11th Cir.
1998) (affirming dismissal of prisoner's Bivens
action under § 1997e(a) for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies prior to filing suit in federal
Leal v. Georgia Dept. of Corrections, 254 F.3d 1276,
1279 (11th Cir. 2001) (emphasis in original). Furthermore,
the law is well-settled 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 federal court has] no discretion to waive
this requirement. Alexander v. Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321,
1325-26 (11th Cir. 1998).” Myles v. Miami-Dade
County Correctional and Rehabilitation Dept., 476
Fed.Appx. 364, 366 (11th Cir. 2012). The court will therefore
“resolve this issue first.” Id.
deciding whether a prisoner has [properly] 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 Fed.Appx.
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 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
Fed.Appx. at 535. In so doing, the Eleventh Circuit rejected
the inmate plaintiff's argument that “disputed
facts as to exhaustion should be decided by a jury.”
Id. at 534-535.
review of the amended complaint, the defendants' special
report and the undisputed evidentiary materials filed in
support thereof, the court concludes that the defendants'
motion to dismiss is due to be granted.
challenges conditions at the Lee County Detention Center
during his incarceration from August 21, 2017 until his
release in October of 2017. Doc. 5 at 2. The defendants deny
Hawkins' allegations regarding violations of his
constitutional rights and further maintain that this case is
subject to dismissal because Hawkins failed to exhaust the
administrative remedy provided at the Lee County ...