United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
M. BORDEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Richard Reeves, an inmate incarcerated at the Bullock
Correctional Facility (“Bullock”) in Union
Springs, Alabama, files this pro se 42 U.S.C. §
1983 action alleging a violation of his Eighth Amendment
right to adequate medical care and treatment. The named
defendant is Dr. Tahir Siddiq. Reeves requests injunctive
relief and damages. Doc. 1.
Siddiq argues that Reeves' complaint against him is due
to be dismissed because Reeves failed to exhaust an
administrative remedy available to him through the prison
system's medical care provider prior to the initiation of
this case. Docs. 16 at 6-7 & 16-2. Dr. Siddiq bases his
exhaustion defense on Reeves' failure to follow the
available required administrative procedures at Bullock
regarding the claims presented. Doc. 16 at 6-7. In addition,
Dr. Siddiq maintains, and the evidentiary materials-including
Reeves' medical records-indicate that Reeves received
appropriate medical treatment during the time relevant to the
matters alleged in the complaint. Doc. 16-1 & 16-3.
court provided Reeves an opportunity to file a response to
Dr. Siddiq's special report in which he was advised,
among other things, to “specifically address
Defendant's argument that he  failed to exhaust his
available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”).” Doc. 23 at 1 (footnote omitted).
The order advised Reeves that his response should be
supported by affidavits or statements made under penalty of
perjury and other evidentiary materials. Doc. 17 at 3. This
order further cautioned Reeves that unless “sufficient
legal cause” is shown within ten 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 this order] and without further notice
to the parties (1) treat the special report and any
supporting evidentiary materials as a [dispositive] motion .
. . and (2) after considering any response as allowed by this
order, rule on the motion in accordance with law.” Doc.
17 at 3. Reeves has not filed a response to Dr. Siddiq's
court will treat Dr. Siddiq's special report as a motion
to dismiss regarding the exhaustion defense and resolve this
motion in his favor. Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368,
1374-75 (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.”);
see also Trias v. Florida Dept. of Corrs., 587
Fed.Appx. 531, 534 (11th Cir. 2014) (affirming district
court's construing of a defendant's “motion for
summary judgment as a motion to dismiss for failure to
exhaust administrative remedies”).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
addressing the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e about
exhaustion, 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. This means that until such administrative remedies as
are available are exhausted, a prisoner is precluded from
filing suit in federal court.
Leal v. Ga. Dep't of Corrs., 254 F.3d 1276, 1279
(11th Cir. 2001) (citations and internal quotations omitted).
Furthermore, “the question of exhaustion under the PLRA
[is] a ‘threshold matter' that [federal courts
must] address before considering the merits of the case,
” and that cannot be waived. Myles v. Miami-Dade
Cnty. Corr. & Rehab. Dep't., 476 Fed.Appx. 364,
366 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting Chandler v. Crosby,
379 F.3d 1278, 1286 (11th Cir. 2004)).
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. 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.
Myles, 476 Fed.Appx. at 366 (citations and internal
quotations omitted). 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]. 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.” Trias, 587 Fed.Appx. at 535. Based on
the foregoing, the Eleventh Circuit has rejected an
inmate-plaintiff's argument that “disputed facts as
to exhaustion should be decided” only after a trial
either before a jury or judge. Id. at 534.
challenges the medical care he received for an injury to his
right foot in September of 2017. Doc. 1. In response to this
claim, Dr. Siddiq asserts that the case may be dismissed
against him because Reeves did not properly exhaust the
administrative remedy provided by the institutional medical
care provider prior to filing this complaint, as required by
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Doc. 16 at 6-7. As explained above, federal law directs this
court to treat Dr. Siddiq's response as a motion to
dismiss for failure to exhaust an administrative ...