United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
an inmate confined in the State Correctional Institution,
Huntingdon (“SCI-Huntingdon”), Pennsylvania,
filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1983. (Doc. 1). The named Defendants are
the following correctional officers at SCI-Huntingdon: Connie
Green; Superintendent Tice, Manager Ralston and Dorina
Varner. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are
deliberately indifferent to his health, by continually
exposing him to tobacco smoke. Id. By Memorandum and
Order dated August 28, 2017, the Court granted
Plaintiff's motions to withdraw the above captioned
action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2) and the case was
closed. (See Docs. 62, 63).
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration of this Court's August 28, 2017
Memorandum and Order and to reopen the above captioned
action. (Doc. 67). Also before the Court is
Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended
complaint. (Doc. 66). For the reasons set forth
below, Plaintiff's motions will be denied.
motion for reconsideration is a device of limited utility. It
may be used only to seek remediation for manifest errors of
law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence which, if
discovered previously, might have affected the court's
decision. Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906
(3d Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1171 (1986).
Accordingly, a party seeking reconsideration must demonstrate
at least one of the following grounds prior to the court
altering, or amending, a standing judgment: (1) an
intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the
availability of new evidence that was not available when the
court granted the motion; or (3) the need to correct a clear
error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.
Max's Seafood Café v. Quineros, 176 F.3d
669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999)(citing North River Ins. Co. v.
CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir.
1995)). A motion for reconsideration is appropriate in
instances where the court has “...misunderstood a
party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues
presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error
not of reasoning, but of apprehension.” See
Rohrbach v. AT & T Nassau Metals Corp., 902
F.Supp. 523, 527 (M.D. Pa. 1995), vacated in part on
other grounds on reconsideration, 915 F.Supp. 712 (M.D. Pa.
1996), quoting Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan
Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983). It may
not be used as a means to reargue unsuccessful theories, or
argue new facts or issues that were not presented to the
court in the context of the matter previously decided.
Drysdale v. Woerth, 153 F.Supp.2d 678, 682 (E.D. Pa.
2001). “Because federal courts have a strong interest
in the finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration
should be granted sparingly.” Continental Casualty
Co. v. Diversified Indus. Inc., 884 F.Supp. 937, 943
(E.D. Pa. 1995).
review of the procedural history in the above captioned
action reveals that on January 23, 2017, Defendants filed a
motion for summary judgment on the issue of exhaustion. (Doc.
47). On February 7, 2017, this Court issued an
Order, affording Plaintiff the opportunity to file an
opposition brief by April 7, 2017. (Doc. 55).
Plaintiff failed to file a brief in opposition, and instead,
filed a “Motion to Withdraw Civil Action
16-1031.” (Doc. 57). On July 24, 2017,
Plaintiff filed another “Motion to Close Civil Action
16-1031 with No Costs to Either Party.” (Doc.
59). On August 7, 2017, Defendants filed an
unopposed motion for dismissal of the above captioned action,
provided the dismissal is pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2).
(See Doc. 60). By Memorandum and Order
dated August 28, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's
motions to withdraw the above captioned action pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2) and the case was closed. (See
Docs. 62, 63).
now seeks to reinstate the above captioned action, stating
that he sought to voluntarily dismiss the action because it
was his “intent to go back through the grievance system
and to properly exhaust his administrative remedies”
and that “since then [Plaintiff] has fully went through
the grievance system.” (See Doc. 67).
Thus, Plaintiff now seeks to reopen the above captioned
action and to amend his complaint to add additional
defendants and claims. Id.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a prisoner is
required to pursue all available administrative remedies
within the prison's grievance system before bringing a
civil rights action concerning prison conditions in federal
court. See 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a); Ross v.
Blake, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1855, 195 L.Ed.2d 117
(2016). This “exhaustion requirement applies to all
inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general
circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege
excessive force or some other wrong.” Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532, 122 S.Ct. 983, 992, 152
L.Ed.2d 12 (2002). Exhaustion is mandatory and must be
“proper, ” which requires a prisoner to
“us[e] all steps that the agency holds out, and [to do]
so properly (so that the agency addresses the issues
on the merits).” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81,
90, 126 S.Ct. 2378, 2383, 165 L.Ed.2d 368 (2006)(emphasis in
original). This means that the prisoner plaintiff must have
completed “the administrative review process in
accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including
deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal
court.” (Id.) The “filing [of] an
untimely or otherwise procedurally defective administrative
grievance or appeal” does not satisfy the PLRA's
exhaustion requirement. (Id.) Failure to
substantially comply with procedural requirements of the
applicable prison's grievance system will result in a
procedural default of the claim. Spruill v. Gillis,
372 F.3d 218, 227-32 (3d Cir. 2004); Small v. Camden
Cty, 728 F.3d 265, 272 (3d Cir. 2013) (completion of the
administrative review process “means
‘substantial' compliance with the prison's
grievance procedures”). Further, the Supreme Court has
held that “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, 212, 127 S.Ct. 910, 918-19, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007).
of an inmate's claim is appropriate when the prisoner has
failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies
before bringing a civil-rights action. Nifas v.
Beard, 274 Fed.Appx. 241, 245 (3d Cir.
2010)(nonprecedential) (affirming grant of summary judgment
that dismissed claims without prejudice where administrative
remedies were not exhausted prior to commencement of action).
Thus, had Plaintiff not requested to voluntarily dismiss his
action, it would have been dismissed for failure to properly
exhaust administrative remedies.
such, Plaintiff presents no evidence that this Court
misunderstood or misinterpreted the law as it applies to his
situation. Brown's action was properly dismissed.
Accordingly, this Court finds that its Memorandum and Order
of August 28, 2017, is not troubled by manifest errors of law
or fact and Plaintiff has not presented anything new, which
if previously presented, might have affected our decision.
Consequently, the motion for reconsideration will be denied.
Moreover, because it is apparent from Defendants' motion
for summary judgment, and Plaintiff's own concession,
that he has failed to ...