United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
PARADISE BAXTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 17, 2018, Plaintiff Larry Sledge, a former inmate
at the Federal Correctional Institution at McKean in
Bradford, Pennsylvania (“FCI-McKean"), brought
this pro se civil rights action against three staff
members at FCI-McKean: Warden Bradley Tate
("Tate"), Corrections Officer Cory Hendrickson
(erroneously identified by Plaintiff as "Lt.
Hendricksen") ("Hendrickson"), and Unit
Manager Shaun Nink ("Nink"). Plaintiff alleges
that, from August 7, 2018 to August 28, 2018, Defendant
Hendrickson "made rude sexual remarks" to him,
pushed him around, and "trie[d] to provoke [him] ...
into a fight" (ECF No. 6, at Section IV.C). Plaintiff
alleges further that, in retaliation for his filing of a
grievance against Defendant Hendrickson and other FCI-McKean
staff, Defendant Nink denied his request for a transfer to a
Residential Reentry Center ("RRC") (Id.).
Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Tate allowed the
conduct of Defendants Hendrickson and Nink, and also
"allow[ed] smoking by staff on federal property"
(Id.). As relief for his claims, Plaintiff seeks
April 19, 2019, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in
the alternative, for summary judgment [ECF No. 13], arguing,
inter alia, that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. Plaintiff has failed to file a
response to Defendants' motion. This matter is now ripe for
contend that Plaintiffs complaint should be dismissed for
failure to comply with the exhaustion requirements of the
Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)
("PLRA"), which provides:
no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions
under section 1983 of this title ... by a prisoner confined
in any jail, prisons, or other correctional facility until
such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.
requirement that an inmate exhaust administrative remedies
applies to all inmate suits regarding prison life, including
those that involve general circumstances as well as
particular episodes. Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516
(2002); Concepcion v. Morton, 306 F.3d 1347 (3d Cir.
2002) (for history of exhaustion requirement). Administrative
exhaustion must be completed by a prisoner prior to filing an
action regardless of the relief sought. Booth v.
Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). The exhaustion
requirement is not a technicality, rather it is federal law
that federal district courts must 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"). The 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...."). Importantly, the exhaustion requirement may
not be satisfied "by filing an untimely or otherwise
procedurally defective . . . appeal." Id. at
83; see also Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 228-30
(3d Cir. 2004) ("Based on our earlier discussion of the
PLRA's legislative history, [. . .] Congress seems to
have had three interrelated objectives relevant to our
inquiry here: (1) to return control of the inmate grievance
process to prison administrators; (2) to encourage
development of an administrative record, and perhaps
settlements, within the inmate grievance process; and (3) to
reduce the burden on the federal courts by erecting barriers
to frivolous prisoner lawsuits.").
The Administrative Process Available to Federal
then, no analysis of exhaustion may be made absent an
understanding of the administrative process available to
state inmates. "Compliance with prison grievance
procedures, therefore, is all that is required by the PLRA to
'properly exhaust.' The level of detail necessary in
a grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary
from system to system and claim to claim, but it is the
prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the
boundaries of proper exhaustion." Jones v.
Bock, 107 U.S. at 217.
Bureau of Prisons has established a multi-tier system whereby
a federal prisoner may seek formal review of any aspect of
his imprisonment. 28 C.F.R. §§ 542.10-542.19
(1997). First, "an inmate shall... present an issue of
concern informally to staff, and staff shall attempt to
informally resolve the issue before an inmate submits a
Request for Administrative Remedy." 28 C.F.R. §
542.13(a). Second, if an inmate at an institution is unable
to informally resolve his complaint, he may file "a
formal written Administrative Remedy Request, on the
appropriate form (BP-9), [within] 20 calendar days following
the date on which the basis for the Request occurred."
28 C.F.R. § 542.14(a). The warden has twenty (20) days
in which to respond. 28 C.F.R. § 542.18. An inmate who
is not satisfied with the warden's response may submit an
appeal, on the appropriate form (BP-10), to the appropriate
Regional Director within twenty (20) calendar days from the
date the warden signed the response. 28 C.F.R. §
542.15(a). An inmate who is not satisfied with the Regional
Director's response may submit an ...