United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
RONALD E. BUSH, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), is represented by counsel in this civil rights action. Plaintiff claims Defendants violated the Eighth Amendment and committed negligence by failing to ensure that Plaintiff received adequate medical treatment for his complaints of severe pain in the groin area, which was later diagnosed as testicular cancer. Now pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies filed by Defendants Wengler, Kessler, Thacker, Baerlocher-Alyk, Stander, and Lambert (Dkt. 32).
Having carefully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs and record and that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Therefore, the Court will decide this matter on the written motions, briefs and record. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Because Plaintiff exhausted available administrative remedies with respect to his current claims, the Court will deny Defendants' Motion To Dismiss.
Plaintiff filed the instant action in August 2012, alleging that he was not provided adequate medical treatment in prison. The Court reviewed the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A and allowed Plaintiff to proceed on his Eighth Amendment claims against Stander, Lambert, Wengler, Kessler, Thacker, and Baerloccher-Alyk, as well as his state law negligence claims against Defendants Stander, Lambert, Wengler, Kessler, Thacker, Baerlocher-Alyk, and Agler. (Initial Review Order, Dkt. 6, at 7.)
Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Stander, Lambert, Wengler, Kessler, Thacker, and Baerlocher-Alyk, arguing that Plaintiff did not properly exhaust available administrative remedies with respect to his claims against these Defendants.
1. Standard of Law for Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, et seq., a prisoner is required to exhaust all of his administrative remedies within the prison system before he can bring a civil rights lawsuit challenging the conditions of his confinement. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). "Proper" exhaustion of administrative remedies is required, meaning that the prisoner must comply "with [the prison's] deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the course of its proceedings." Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90-91 (2006).
"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). The exhaustion requirement is based on the important policy concern that prison officials should have "an opportunity to resolve disputes concerning the exercise of their responsibilities before being haled into court." Id. at 204.
Failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense that is "subject to an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion rather than a motion for summary judgment." Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003). In the context of such a motion, a court's consideration of evidence outside of the pleadings does not transform the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Rather, in deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust, the Court "may look beyond the pleadings and decide disputed issues of fact." Id. at 1120.
The defendant bears the burden of proving failure to exhaust. See Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 936 (9th Cir. 2005). If the defendant does so, "the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that the administrative remedies were unavailable." Albino v. Baca, 697 F.3d 1023, 1031 (9th Cir. 2012). Confusing or contradictory information given to a prisoner "informs [the] determination of whether relief was, as a practical matter, available.'" Brown, 422 F.3d at 937.
Administrative remedies will be deemed unavailable and exhaustion excused if an inmate shows that the required procedural steps were "not known and unknowable with reasonable effort." Albino, 697 F.3d at 1037. A complaint will not be dismissed for failure to exhaust if the prison improperly processed an inmate's grievance, if prison officials misinformed an inmate regarding grievance procedures, or if jail staff took any other "affirmative actions" that interfered with an inmate's efforts to exhaust. Id. at 1034, 1039. It is not enough that the ...