United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
RUSS WALKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Devoris Williams, an inmate incarcerated at the Donaldson
Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama, files this
pro se 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983 action alleging a violation
of his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care and
treatment. The named defendant is Dr. Wilcotte Rahming.
Williams requests injunctive relief and damages. Doc. 1.
Rahming argues that Williams' complaint against him is
due to be dismissed because Williams failed to exhaust an
administrative remedy available to him through the prison
system's medical care provider prior to filing this cause
of action. Doc. 17 at 6-7; Docs. 17-3, 17-4, 17-5. Dr.
Rahming bases his exhaustion defense on Williams' failure
to follow the prison medical provider's available
administrative procedures regarding the claims presented.
Id. In addition, Dr. Rahming maintains - and the
evidentiary materials, including Williams' medical
records, suggest-that Williams received appropriate medical
care, treatment, and medication during the time relevant to
the matters alleged. Docs. 17-1, 17-2, 17-6.
court provided Williams an opportunity to file a response to
Dr. Rahming's special report in which he was advised,
among other things, to “specifically address: 1.
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”)… .” and “2.
Defendant's assertions that the complaint fails to
establish that [he] in any way acted in violation of
Plaintiff's constitutional rights.” Doc. 18 at 1-2
(footnote omitted). The order advised Williams that 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 Williams 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.” Id. at 3-4. Williams has
not filed a response to Dr. Rahming's report.
court will treat Dr. Rahming's special report as a motion
to dismiss regarding the exhaustion defense. See 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. 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... .”).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
addressing the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e
concerning 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 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, ” which 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 provision of medical care he received at Kilby
regarding a prescription medication prescribed by Dr. Rahming
in October of 2016. Doc. 1. In response to this claim, Dr.
Rahming asserts this case may be dismissed against him
because Williams did not exhaust properly 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. 17 at
6-8. As explained, federal law directs this court to treat
Dr. Rahming's response as a motion to dismiss for failure
to exhaust an ...