United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CHARLES S. COODY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an inmate incarcerated at the Easterling Correctional
Facility when he initiated this pro se 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action,  brings suit against Defendants for
violating the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.
Plaintiff, a disabled individual confined to a wheelchair,
complains the Geneva County Jail lacks wheel chair ramps and
“other things” such as support bars which caused
him to suffer injuries during his incarceration at the
facility. The named defendants are Sheriff Tony Helms and
Commander Josh Rafferty. Plaintiff requests damages and
injunctive relief. Doc. 1.
filed a special report and supporting evidentiary materials
addressing Plaintiff's claims for relief. In these
documents, Defendants deny they acted in violation of
Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Defendants further
argue this case is due to be dismissed because prior to
filing this cause of action Plaintiff failed to properly
exhaust the administrative remedy available to him at the
Geneva County Jail regarding the claims presented in the
complaint. Doc. 15 at 6-8. Defendants base their exhaustion
defense on Plaintiff's failure to follow the available
required administrative procedures at the Geneva County Jail
regarding the claims presented. Id.
court provided Plaintiff an opportunity to file a response to
Defendants' special report in which he was advised, among
other things, to address Defendants' argument that
“he failed to fully exhaust his administrative remedies
available at the Geneva County Jail as required by 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”).” Doc. 16 at 1 (footnote omitted).
The order advised Plaintiff his response should be supported
by affidavits or statements made under penalty of perjury and
other evidentiary materials. Id. at 3. This order
further cautioned Plaintiff 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 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 the law.”
Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff has filed no response to the
order within the time allowed by the court.
to the August 8, 2018 order, the court deems it appropriate
to treat the report filed by Defendants' as a motion to
dismiss regarding the exhaustion defense and resolve this
motion in favor of Defendants. 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.”); see also Trias v. Florida
Dept. of Corrections, 587 Fed.Appx. 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....”).
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. Georgia Dept. of Corrs., 254 F.3d 1276, 1279
(11th Cir. 2001) (citations and internal quotations omitted).
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, ” and that cannot
be waived. Myles v. Miami-Dade Cnty. Corr. & Rehab.
Dept., 476 Fed.Appx. 364, 366 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Chandler v. Crosby, 379 F.3d 1278, 1286 (11th Cir.
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.
an inmate previously confined at the Geneva County Jail,
alleges the facility is in violation of the ADA. Defendants
deny Plaintiff's allegations and maintain this case is
subject to dismissal because Plaintiff failed to exhaust the
administrative remedy provided at the Geneva County Jail
prior to filing this complaint as required by the Prison
Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). As
explained, federal law directs this court to treat
Defendants' response as a motion to dismiss for failure
to exhaust an administrative remedy and ...