United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Barbara Rothstein United States District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge
respectfully recommended that the motion to dismiss filed by
Defendants (ECF No. 44) be converted into a motion
for summary judgment on the issue of exhaustion, and that
summary judgment be granted to Defendants. Additionally, the
Court recommends that Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary
Injunction (ECF No. 28) be denied as moot as it is
recommended that summary judgment be granted to Defendants.
Gregory Garrett Brown (“Brown”) is an inmate
currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution
at Albion (“SCI-Albion”). PACER, a/k/a Public
Access to Court Records, reflects that Brown is a serial
pro se prisoner filer of lawsuits and has incurred
three or more strikes for purposes of the Prison Litigation
Report Act (“PLRA”). In this case, Brown is not
proceeding in forma pauperis as he paid the full
filing fee at the time he filed his complaint. (ECF No.
instant lawsuit, Brown names thirty-three (33) defendants,
all of whom appear to be employed at SCI-Albion. (Amended
Complaint, ECF No. 16). The claims are difficult to
follow but appear to relate to a three-month period from May
2016 through early September 2016. Defendants contend that
the specifics of Brown's claims are of no moment, as
Brown failed to properly exhaust any grievance or claim for
any incident which occurred from May 10, 2016 through
September 8, 2016.
filed the instant Motion to Dismiss asking the Court to
convert the motion to dismiss to a summary judgment motion on
the issue of exhaustion. (ECF No. 44). Prior to the
Court issuing a briefing schedule, Brown filed a
“Response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss”
(ECF No. 52) and a “ Response to
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.” (ECF
No. 53.)The motion is ripe for disposition.
the PLRA, “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to
prison conditions under section 1983 . . . by a prisoner
confined in jail, prison, or other correctional facility
until such administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). A prisoner must
exhaust administrative remedies as to any claim that arises
in the prison setting, regardless of any limitations on the
kind of relief that may be gained through the grievance
process. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S.
516, 532 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741
n.6 (2001). Exhaustion means “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, 92 (2006). The
exhaustion requirement is not a technicality, rather it is
federal law which federal district courts are required to
follow. Nyhuis v. Reno, 204 F.3d 65, 73 (3d Cir.
2000) (by using language “no action shall be brought,
” Congress has “clearly required
exhaustion”). Grievance procedures in inmate handbooks
are administrative remedies that must be exhausted under the
PLRA prior to suit. Concepcion v. Morton, 306 F.3d
1347, 1348-49 (3d Cir. 2002).
PLRA also requires “proper exhaustion” meaning
that a prisoner must complete the administrative review
process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules of
that grievance system. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81,
87-91 (2006) (“Proper exhaustion demands compliance
with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural
rules . . . .”). This broad rule, however, admits of
one narrowly defined exception. If the actions of prison
officials in some fashion contributed to the inmate's
procedural default on a grievance, the inmate will not be
held to strict compliance with this exhaustion requirement.
See Camp v. Brennan, 219 F.3d 279 (3d Cir.
2000). However, courts have recognized a clear
“reluctance to invoke equitable reasons to excuse [an
inmate's] failure to exhaust as the state
requires.” Davis v. Warman, 49 F. App'x
365, 368 (3d Cir. 2002). Thus, an inmate's failure to
exhaust will only be excused “under certain limited
circumstances, ” and an inmate can defeat a claim of
failure to exhaust only by showing “he was misled or
that there was some extraordinary reason he was prevented
from complying with the statutory mandate.” Harris
v. Armstrong, 149 F. App'x 58, 59 (3d Cir. 2005);
Davis v. Warman, 49 F. App'x at 368.
maintains a grievance system which offers a three-phase
grievance and appeals procedure. See DC-ADM 804.
First, an inmate may submit a grievance to the inmate
Grievance Coordinator at the institution where the acts
complained of occurred. If the inmate is dissatisfied with
the initial review response, he or she may, file appeal to
the Facility Manager/Superintendent for a second level of
review. Finally, an inmate may submit an appeal to the
Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals
(“SOIGA”) for review of the decision by the
Facility Manager / Superintendent.
argue that this case should be dismissed as Brown failed to
properly exhaust his administrative remedies under the PLRA.
In support of their argument, Defendants present the sworn
Declaration of Amanda West, a ...