United States District Court, D. Idaho
JOHN F. WARREN, Plaintiff,
CORIZON HEALTH; DR. APRIL DAWSON, M.D.; MICHAEL TAKAGI, PA-C; DIANE DICE, PA-C; STEVEN STEDTFELD, PA-C; DAVID FOSS, NP RYAN VALLEY, HSA; BRISTY DELAOE; JOHN DOE PROVIDER; JANE DOE PROVIDER; STEVEN LITTLE, WARDEN; BRENT REINKE, DIRECTOR OF IDAHO DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS; Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.
Pending before the Court in this prisoner civil rights matter is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 15) and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the Affidavit of Jan Pavelec (Dkt. 20). The motions are now fully briefed.
Having fully 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 without oral argument. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order.
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE
Plaintiff has pointed the Court to discrepancies between the grievances that Grievance Coordinator Jan Pavelec declared are logged into the electronic system, and those that Plaintiff has brought forward. Plaintiff asks the Court to strike Pavelec's entire Affidavit as a "false document" based on these discrepancies. (Dkt. 20.) Defendants assert that the discrepancies are a mistake, that they have withdrawn the portion of the pending Motion to Dismiss that was based on the mistake, and that the portions of the declaration relating to the remaining claims and grievances are unaffected by the mistakes.
It is clear that the system of receiving, routing, and logging in hundreds of prisoner grievances each month is not infallible, and that human errors are bound to occur from time to time. Without something more showing that the discrepancies were intentional and that they infect the entire subject matter of the Affidavit, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the entire Affidavit has no adequate factual basis.
The Court concludes that, with Plaintiff's supplementation of the record and Defendants' admissions of Pavelec's mistakes, the content of the grievance documents are not in dispute. Further, as to the remaining claims at issue in the Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff has not asserted that he submitted grievances about the knee treatment and the failure to supervise pharmacy personnel, which in turn caused him to go without prescription medication for 17 days, or that any grievances were lost or destroyed. Rather, he makes no effort to controvert Defendants' assertion that he did not exhaust his administrative remedies as to these claims. Therefore, the Court finds it unnecessary to strike the affidavit or assume a dispute about Plaintiff's grievance history where no dispute exists. For these reasons, the Motion to Strike will be denied.
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Defendants filed their motion regarding Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies as a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b), and alternatively as a Motion for Summary Judgment under Rule 56. The Court will treat the motion under Rule 56. Both parties have submitted extra-record documents supporting their positions.
Defendants originally requested dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims, asserting that Plaintiff failed to exhaust any of the claims in his Complaint. After Plaintiff filed his response, pointing to grievance forms documenting exhaustion of some of the claims, Defendants withdrew a portion of their motion. (Dkt. 22.) The only claims remaining at issue in the present motion are Plaintiff's claims that Defendants Dawson, Dalaoe, and Valley failed to provide him with proper medical care for his knee and that Dr. April Dawson's actions in failing to supervise pharmacy personnel caused him to go without his prescribed medications for a 17-day period.
1. Standard of Law
Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"),  prisoners are required to exhaust all available administrative remedies within the prison system before they can include the claims in a new or ongoing civil rights lawsuit challenging the conditions of their confinement. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Cano v. Taylor, 739 F.3d 1214, 1220-21 (9th Cir. 2014) (a claim may be exhausted prior to filing suit or during suit, so long as exhaustion was completed before the first time the prisoner sought to include the claim in the suit). "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. Once in court, defendants have the right to bring motions addressing exhaustion of administrative remedies at the very beginning of litigation, and "disputed factual questions relevant to exhaustion[, ] should be decided at that time. Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1171 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc).
Failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense that may be asserted in a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim only if the prisoner's failure to exhaust is clear from the face of the complaint and any public records subject to judicial notice. Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166. When either party relies on evidence beyond the pleadings and public records, the exhaustion issue should be brought as, or converted into, a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. Id. at 1170. "If the record is sufficiently developed to permit the trial court to consider summary judgment, and if the court finds that when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to a moving party the movant has not shown a genuine dispute of fact on the issue of exhaustion, " the Court may enter summary judgment for either ...