Baker
v.
Vanderark

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern DivisionSep 19, 2005
Case No. 1:05-cv-550. (W.D. Mich. Sep. 19, 2005)

Case No. 1:05-cv-550.

September 19, 2005


OPINION


This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996) (" PLRA"), "no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions . . . until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Because Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate exhaustion of available administrative remedies, the Court will dismiss his complaint without prejudice.

Discussion

I. Factual allegations

Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility. In his pro se complaint, he sues Medical Service Providers Donna Vanderark, (unknown) Spitters and (unknown) Jackson; Nurses Helen Thompson and James Barber, and Surgeon (unknown) Wesneski.

Plaintiff claims that he is being denied proper medical treatment. On May 20, 2004, Plaintiff submitted a request for an appointment regarding an abdominal injury. He was seen by Defendants Barber and Spitters on May 27 and June 1, 2004. Defendants told Plaintiff that he had pulled a muscle and that everything was otherwise normal. Plaintiff's condition did not improve over the next several months. Between September 26 and December 20, 2004, Plaintiff complained to health care on several occasions that he continued to experience abdominal pain, but he has not received any further medical treatment. He believes that he suffers from a hernia, not a pulled or torn abdominal muscle. Plaintiff seeks proper diagnosis and treatment for his abdominal injury.

II. Lack of exhaustion of available administrative remedies

Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently allege and show exhaustion of available administrative remedies. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), a prisoner bringing an action with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must exhaust available administrative remedies. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731 (2001). The exhaustion requirement is mandatory and applies to all suits regarding prison conditions, regardless of the nature of the wrong or the type of relief sought. Porter, 534 U.S. at 520; Booth, 532 U.S. at 741. A district court must enforce the exhaustion requirement sua sponte. Brown v. Toombs, 139 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir. 1998); accord Wyatt v. Leonard, 193 F.3d 876, 879 (6th Cir. 1999).

A prisoner must allege and show that he has exhausted all available administrative remedies and should attach to his § 1983 complaint the administrative decision disposing of his complaint, if the decision is available. Brown, 139 F.3d at 1104. In the absence of written documentation, the prisoner must describe with specificity the administrative proceeding and its outcome so that the Court may determine what claims, if any, have been exhausted. Knuckles El v. Toombs, 215 F.3d 640, 642 (6th Cir. 2000). In addition, a prisoner must specifically mention the involved parties in the grievance to alert the prison officials to the problems so that the prison has a chance to address the claims before they reach federal court. Curry v. Scott, 249 F.3d 493, 505 (6th Cir. 2001); Thomas v. Woolum, 337 F.3d 720, 735 (6th Cir. 2003); Vandiver v. Martin, No. 02-1338, 2002 WL 31166925, at *2 (6th Cir. Sept. 27, 2002) ("The issues [plaintiff] may raise, and the defendants he may name, in his lawsuit are limited to the specific issues raised, and the specific individuals mentioned, in his grievance.").

To assist prisoners in meeting this requirement, the form complaint advises prisoners to attach copies of documents evidencing exhaustion or to provide an affidavit describing the issues raised and the people named in the Step I grievance. The form complaint, which is required by local rule, is disseminated to all the prisons. See W.D. MICH. LCIVR 5.6(a). Plaintiff used the form complaint to file his action.

Plaintiff's medical claim is the type of claim that may be grieved through the three-step prison grievance process. See MICH. DEP'T OF CORR., Policy Directive 03.02.130, ¶ E (may grieve "alleged violations of policy and procedure or unsatisfactory conditions of confinement") (effective 4/28/03). Plaintiff indicates in his complaint that he filed a Step I grievance and appealed it to Step III. Plaintiff, however, neither provides copies of the Step I grievance and grievance appeals, nor does he specifically describe what issue(s) he raised in the grievance or who was named in the grievance. Without that information, the Court is unable to determine whether Plaintiff properly exhausted his medical claim against each of the named Defendants. Plaintiff, therefore, has failed to satisfy his burden of demonstrating exhaustion.

Because the exhaustion requirement is no longer discretionary, but is mandatory, the Court does not have the discretion to provide a continuance in the absence of exhaustion. See Wright v. Morris, 111 F.3d 414, 417 (6th Cir. 1997). Rather, dismissal of this action without prejudice is appropriate when a prisoner has failed to show that he exhausted available administrative remedies. See Freeman v. Francis, 196 F.3d 641, 645 (6th Cir. 1999); Brown, 139 F.3d at 1104; White v. McGinnis, 131 F.3d 593, 595 (6th Cir. 1997). Dismissal for failing to exhaust available administrative remedies does not relieve a plaintiff from payment of the civil action filing fee. Smeltzer v. Hook, 235 F. Supp. 2d 736, 746 (W.D. Mich. 2002) (citing Omar v. Lesza, No. 97 C 5817, 1997 WL 534361, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 26, 1997)). Accordingly, the Court will dismiss his action without prejudice.

Conclusion

Having conducted the review now required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's action without prejudice because he has failed to show exhaustion as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).

The Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611 (6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court dismisses the action, the Court discerns no good-faith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the Court will assess the $255 appellate filing fee pursuant to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis, e.g., by the "three-strikes" rule of § 1915(g). If he is barred, he will be required to pay the $255 appellate filing fee in one lump sum.

A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.