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Goodrick v. French

September 17, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Edward J. Lodge U. S. District Judge


Several motions are pending in this prisoner civil rights matter, which has been reassigned to the undersigned District Judge from United States Magistrate Ronald E. Bush. (Dkt. 58.) The Court finds that decisional process would not be aided by oral argument, and it will resolve these matters on the record after consideration of the parties' written submissions. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d).

Having fully considered the parties arguments, the Court enters the following Memorandum Decision and Order.


Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC). Plaintiff suffers from several medical problems, including hypertension, hepatitis C, arthritis, and degenerative disc disease. He alleges that he is in constant pain from his damaged back and hip. He contends that prison officials and employees have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of his right against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

Plaintiff claims that the medical contractor, Correctional Medical Services (CMS), has a policy of denying adequate care to prisoners in an effort to cut costs and make a profit. He further asserts that Paul Delaplain, a physician's assistant at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution, prescribed naproxen and steroids as pain relievers, neither of which, according to Plaintiff, are approved for use in patients with liver disease. After Plaintiff was transferred to the Idaho Correction Center at Orofino (ICI-O), a nurse practitioner, Rory York, allegedly refused to issue medical memos for Plaintiff related to standing, bending, lifting, and having an extra pillow, and York "tried to push Ibuprofen off on the Plaintiff knowing the same to be forbidden for anyone with liver disease as it damages the liver and stores up in the liver." (Dkt. 3, ¶ 59, 64.) Plaintiff alleges that his requests for a double mattress and a heating pad were likewise rejected, and he contends that a correctional officer at ICI-O, Sergeant French, refused to allow him to be moved to a lower tier despite a medical memo authorizing the same.

The magistrate judge conducted an initial review of the Complaint, as required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, and allowed Plaintiff to go forward with his claims against Defendants Delaplain, York, French, and CMS. (Dkt. 7, pp. 6-7.) Other claims and defendants were dismissed. (Id.) Defendants French, York, and CMS have since appeared and submitted their Answers to the Complaint. (Dkts. 11, 13.) Defendant Delaplain has not been served with process and has not appeared.

Defendant French has now filed a Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 19), in which he asserts that Plantiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to the claim against him. French has also submitted a Motion to Stay Discovery (Dkt. 20) and, later, a Motion to Stay the entire case because he has been recalled to active military duty and transferred out of Idaho (Dkt. 51).

Plaintiff has filed several motions of his own, including motions to compel Defendants York and CMS to provide certain discovery to him. (Dkts. 25, 26, 39, 40.) Defendants York and CMS have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, to which Plaintiff has responded. (Dkts. 40, 57, and 59.) Other motions will be addressed as necessary in the course of this Memorandum Decision.


The Court will first take up Defendant French's Motion to Dismiss the claim against him. Because the Court agrees that Plaintiff did not exhaust administrative remedies related to his current claim that French ignored a medical memo to house Plaintiff on a lower tier, the Court sees no purpose in staying the case based upon French's recall to active military service. Therefore, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted, and French's Motion to Stay Discovery and Motion to Stay the case will be denied as moot.

1. Standard of Law

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) provides that "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title ... until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). "There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court." Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007). This requirement is intended to give "prison officials an opportunity to resolve disputes concerning the exercise of their responsibilities before being haled into court." Id. at 204.

Proper exhaustion is required, meaning that "a prisoner must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal court." Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88 (2006). Where there is an informal and relatively simple prison grievance system, prisoners must take advantage of it before filing a civil rights complaint. Id. at 103. "The level of detail necessary in a grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary from system to system and claim to claim, but it is the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of proper exhaustion." Jones, 549 U.S. at 218.

A claim that a prisoner failed to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense that should be brought as an unenumerated motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2002). The district court may consider matters outside of the pleadings and can resolve disputed issues of fact, if necessary. Id. ...

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