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Roberts v. Inglese

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 21, 2015



SALLY SHUSHAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Charles Owens Roberts, a state prisoner, filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Drs. R. Demaree Inglese and Gary French. In this lawsuit, plaintiff claims that he was denied adequate medical care at the St. Tammany Parish Prison. All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge.[1]

The defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[2] Plaintiff was ordered to file a response to that motion on or before April 9, 2015.[3] Plaintiff's only filing since the issuance of that order was an incomprehensible statement in support of his complaint.[4]

In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court may grant the motion when no genuine issue of material fact exists and the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). There is no "genuine issue" when the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmovant. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

"Procedurally, the party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the record which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Taita Chemical Co., Ltd. v. Westlake Styrene Corp. , 246 F.3d 377, 385 (5th Cir. 2001) (quotation marks and brackets omitted). The party opposing summary judgment must then "go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56); see also Provident Life and Accident Ins. Co. v. Goel , 274 F.3d 984, 991 (5th Cir. 2001). The Court has no duty to search the record for evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment; rather, "[t]he party opposing summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner in which the evidence supports his or her claim." Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. , 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). Conclusory statements, speculation, and unsubstantiated assertions are not competent summary judgment evidence and will not suffice to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Id.; Douglass v. United Servs. Auto Ass'n , 79 F.3d 1415, 1429 (5th Cir. 1996).

In their motion, the defendants argue, inter alia, that the claims against them must be dismissed because plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit. For the following reasons, it is clear that the defendants are correct.[5]

The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), as amended, provides that "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).[6]

Federal courts have taken a strict approach to the exhaustion requirement. For example, the United States Supreme Court held that the exhaustion requirement is "mandatory, " Porter v. Nussle , 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002), and "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, " id. at 532. The Supreme Court further held that "an inmate must exhaust irrespective of the forms of relief sought and offered through administrative avenues." Booth v. Churner , 532 U.S. 731, 741 n.6 (2001). The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals therefore concluded that "[q]uibbles about the nature of a prisoner's complaint, the type of remedy sought, and the sufficiency or breadth of prison grievance procedures were laid to rest in Booth." Wright v. Hollingsworth , 260 F.3d 357, 358 (5th Cir. 2001).

The Fifth Circuit has emphatically held that the mandatory exhaustion requirement cannot be excused by a federal court. The Fifth Circuit stated:

[T]here can be no doubt that pre-filing exhaustion of prison grievance processes is mandatory. We thus hold that Underwood [v. Wilson , 151 F.3d 292 (5th Cir. 1998), ] has been tacitly overruled and is no longer good law to the extent it permits prisoner lawsuits challenging prison conditions to proceed in the absence of pre-filing administrative exhaustion. District courts have no discretion to excuse a prisoner's failure to properly exhaust the prison grievance process before filing their complaint. It is irrelevant whether exhaustion is achieved during the federal proceeding. Pre-filing exhaustion is mandatory, and the case must be dismissed if available administrative remedies were not exhausted.

Gonzalez v. Seal , 702 F.3d 785, 788 (5th Cir. 2012) (emphasis added; footnote omitted). Although the mandatory nature of the exhaustion requirement may seem harsh, it is necessary to accomplish the PLRA's goals. As the United States Supreme Court has explained:

Beyond doubt, Congress enacted § 1997e(a) to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of prisoner suits; to this purpose, Congress afforded corrections officials time and opportunity to address complaints internally before allowing the initiation of a federal case. In some instances, corrective action taken in response to an inmate's grievance might improve prison administration and satisfy the inmate, thereby obviating the need for litigation. In other instances, the internal review might "filter out some frivolous claims." And for cases ultimately brought to court, adjudication could be facilitated by an administrative record that clarifies the contours of the controversy.

Porter v. Nussle , 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002) (citations omitted).

In support of their motion, the defendants have submitted the affidavit of Warden Gregory Longino, in which he outlined the Administrative Remedy Procedure put in ...

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