United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
E. KNOWLES, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jeremy Milton, filed this pro se and in forma
pauperis complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In
this lawsuit, he challenged the conditions of his former
confinement at the Terrebonne Parish Jail and named the
following defendants: Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Daniel
Edwards; Warden Brandon Pinion; Assistant Warden Schirra M.
Finn; Norman Carter; Stewart Murphy; Chad Hickey; Kenneth
Berteau; Daniel Hernandez; Randall Garcia; Freeman Ramsey; D.
Holiday; Tori Brown; and Ahmad Bickham.
September 20, 2017, the claims against Berteau and Hickey
were dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
remaining defendants have now filed a motion for summary
judgment. Plaintiff has opposed that
motion. The parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate
their motion, the defendants argue that they are entitled to
summary judgment because plaintiff failed to comply with the
federal requirement that he exhaust his administrative
remedies before filing suit. Regarding such motions, the
United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained:
[The federal summary judgment] standards require the court to
grant summary judgment if “the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In making this determination, the court
should “construe all facts and inferences in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Dillon [v.
Rogers], 596 F.3d [260, ] 266 [(5th Cir. 2010)]
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense, such that the
defendants have the burden of demonstrating that [the
plaintiff] failed to exhaust administrative remedies.
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216, 127 S.Ct. 910, 166
L.Ed.2d 798 (2007). At the summary-judgment stage, this means
that the defendants “must establish beyond peradventure
all of the essential elements of the defense of exhaustion to
warrant summary judgment in their favor.”
Dillon, 596 F.3d at 266.
Wilson v. Epps, 776 F.3d 296, 299 (5th Cir. 2015).
Here, the defendants have made that showing.
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). Because
plaintiff was incarcerated at the time he filed suit, the
exhaustion requirement applies despite the fact that he was
subsequently released. See, e.g., Williams v.
Henagan, 595 F.3d 610, 619 (5th Cir. 2010); Lay v.
Medical Staff, Civ. Action No. 09-3349, 2010 WL 2360967,
at *2 (E.D. La. June 8, 2010); see also Cox v.
Mayer, 332 F.3d 422 (6th Cir. 2003); Dixon v.
Page, 291 F.3d 485, 488-89 (7th Cir. 2002); Harris
v. Garner, 216 F.3d 970, 978-79 (11th Cir. 2000).
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).
Fifth Circuit has emphatically held that the mandatory
exhaustion requirement may not 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 ...