United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Pupo Lenihan, Magistrate Judge.
Barry Fischer, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff
Mark-Alonzo Williams' Objections (Docket 246) to the
Report & Recommendation (“R&R”) of
Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan entered on August 15,
2017. (Docket 225). The R&R recommends granting Defendant
Peter Saavedra's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
Claim, (Docket 120), which has been converted into a Motion
for Summary Judgment on the sole issue of exhaustion. (Docket
122). The R&R, therefore, recommends dismissing Defendant
Saavedra from this action with prejudice. Service of the
R&R was made on all parties. Plaintiff filed timely
Objections to the R&R, which were received and docketed
on August 31, 2017. (Docket 246).
resolving a party's objections, the Court conducts a
de novo review of any part of the R&R that has
been properly objected to. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). The Court may accept, reject, or modify the
recommended disposition, as well as receive further evidence
or return the matter to the magistrate judge with
instructions. Id. Upon careful de novo
review of the Second Amended Complaint, Defendant
Saavedra's converted Motion for Summary Judgment on the
sole issue of exhaustion, the parties' briefs filed in
connection with the Motion, the R&R, and Plaintiff's
Objections, the Court concludes that the Objections do not
undermine the R&R's recommended disposition.
R&R succinctly explains the mandatory exhaustion
requirement set forth in the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), as well as
the three-step grievance procedure in DC-ADM 804 of the
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' Inmate Grievance
System Policy. The R&R correctly rejected Plaintiff's
argument that the grievance procedure was not available to
him because of his contention that he never received an
answer from his appeal to the Facility Manager at the second
step of DC-ADM 804. See Ross v. Blake, __ U.S. __,
136 S.Ct. 1850, 1859 (2016) (“[A]n inmate is required
to exhaust those, but only those, grievance procedures that
are ‘capable of use' to obtain ‘some relief
for the action complained of.'”). In reaching this
conclusion, the R&R noted, inter alia, that the
Department of Corrections has no record of this document ever
being submitted by Plaintiff. (Docket 225 at 6).
Consequently, Plaintiff's bare and generalized assertion
in his Objections of “procedural interference” by
prison officials regarding his submission of this document,
see (Docket 246 at ¶ 4), is insufficient to
establish that the administrative remedies were not available
to him. See Spearman v. Morris, 643 Fed. App'x
82, 85 (3d Cir. 2016).
even if it is true that the appeal that Plaintiff attached to
his Second Amended Complaint was not stamped because it was
an original copy and even if prison officials excused
Plaintiff from submitting said appeal on the correct form, as
Plaintiff contends in his Objections, see (Docket
246 at ¶¶ 3, 13-15), the fact remains that
Plaintiff did not properly comply with the first step of
DC-ADM 804 when he submitted Grievance No. 628384. See
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007) (“[I]t is
the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define
the proper boundaries of proper exhaustion.”). As
explained in the R&R, this grievance was initially
rejected by the Facility Grievance Coordinator on June 3,
2016 because Plaintiff did not submit it within the
applicable time limit and because it complained of different
events that could not be raised in a single grievance.
(Docket 225 at 5). After Plaintiff was allowed to resubmit
the grievance, it was rejected a second time on June 7, 2016
because he failed to provide the required documentation.
irrespective of Plaintiff's assertions in his Objections
that he did, in fact, file an appeal at the second step of
the grievance procedure, he failed to properly comply with
the first step. See Small v. Camden Cty., 728 F.3d
265, 273 (3d Cir. 2013) (holding that an inmate's
grievances that did not comply with the institution's
procedures “could not serve as a basis for satisfying
the PLRA's exhaustion requirement”); Boynes v.
Cty. of Lawrence, 2017 WL 746807, *4 (W.D. Pa. 2017)
(“Plaintiff's position that the administrative
remedies . . . were not available to him when he did not
receive responses to [his improperly submitted] grievances .
. . is without merit.”). As a result, the R&R
correctly determined that Plaintiff's claims under 42
U.S.C. §1983 against Defendant Saavedra are barred by
the mandatory exhaustion provision of the PLRA.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Saavedra's Motion to
Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, (Docket ), which
has been converted into a Motion for Summary Judgment on the
sole issue of Exhaustion, (Docket ), is GRANTED and that
Defendant Saavedra is hereby dismissed from this action with
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Objections (Docket
) to the R&R are OVERRULED.
FURTHER ORDERED that the R&R (Docket ) is adopted as
the Opinion of the District Court.
 The Court further notes that
Plaintiff's Objections are self-contradictory because on
the one hand, he claims that he actually filed his appeal at
the second step of DC-ADM 804, see (Docket 246 at
¶¶ 3-4), but on the other hand, he claims that he
was prevented from appealing to the second step because ...