Case No. 1:05-cv-704.
December 8, 2005
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.
I. Factual allegations
Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Oaks Correctional Facility. In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff sues Nurse (Unknown) Forrester; Cindi Curtin, Warden of the Oaks Correctional Facility; David Pratt, Assistant Deputy Warden of the Oaks Correctional Facility; and Nurse (Unknown) Horton for violating his Eighth Amendment rights.
Plaintiff suffers from reoccurring seizures. On August 8, 2005, Plaintiff filed a grievance claiming that Defendants repeatedly denied him medical care for his seizures. He alleges that the Oaks Correctional Facility staff did not provide medication to him in a timely manner so that he eventually had to be transported to an offsite hospital for medical treatment. In the grievance, Plaintiff requests to be transferred to a facility that can meet his medical needs.
Plaintiff states in his complaint that he submitted several Michigan Department of Corrections health care request forms to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Nurse Nickie J. Monroe, however, provided the following response to Plaintiff's request: "[y]ou refused the scheduled lab draws several times. The physician has ordered labs to be drawn in February. Please keep this appointment." Plaintiff argues that he should not have to wait five months to receive medical care. Finally, Plaintiff complains about "problems with Nurse Forrester" but did not provide any facts to support this allegation.
For relief, Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages.
II. Lack of exhaustion of available administrative remedies
Plaintiff has failed sufficiently to 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, this Court ad vises prisoners to attach copies of documents evidencing exhaustion in its form complaint. 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 in this action but did not attach any of the grievance forms to his complaint.
Plaintiff's medical claims are the types of claims 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 or procedure or unsatisfactory conditions of confinement") (effective 12/19/03). Plaintiff submitted a Step I grievance on August 8, 2005. Plaintiff claims, however, that the grievance coordinator refused to answer his Step I grievance or to provide the Step II and Step III appeal form to Plaintiff. Exhaustion is not demonstrated by asking a grievance coordinator for a form. The prisoner must allege that there is no other source for obtaining a form or that he made other attempts to obtain a form or to file a grievance without a form. Jones v. Smith, 266 F.3d 399, 400 (6th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff does not allege that there is no other source to obtain a grievance form, that he made other attempts to obtain a form or that he attempted to pursue his administrative remedies without a form.
In addition, Plaintiff failed to identify which of the Defendants, if any, he named in the Step I grievance. Plaintiff has not provided the Court with a copy of his Step I grievance, nor does he indicate in his complaint that he identified any of the Defendants in his Step I grievance. "[F]or a court to find that a prisoner has administratively exhausted a claim against a particular defendant, a prisoner must have alleged mistreatment or misconduct on the part of the defendant at Step I of the grievance process." Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 575 (6th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff's failure to allege or show that he named the Defendants in his Step I grievance alone precludes a finding of exhaustion. Burton, 321 F.3d at 576 n. 4 (claim of retaliation, which was initially raised by prisoner in Step II of the grievance process was not administratively exhausted). Without any evidence from Plaintiff that he identified any of the Defendants in any administrative proceeding or that he exhausted his administrative remedies with respect to each of the Defendants, Plaintiff is unable to establish with particularity that he exhausted his available administrative remedies against these Defendants. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate exhaustion of available administrative remedies.
It is not clear whether Plaintiff may still grieve his claims. Under the policy of the prison, complaints must be resolved expeditiously, and complaints may be rejected as untimely. See Policy Directive 03.02.130, ¶ G(4). The Sixth Circuit held that an inmate cannot simply claim that "he has exhausted his remedies or that it is futile for him to do so because his grievance is now time-barred under the regulations." Hartsfield v. Vidor, 199 F.3d 305, 309 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Wright v. Morris, 111 F.3d 414, 417 n. 3 (6th Cir. 1997)). However, even if the Michigan Department of Corrections considers a subsequent grievance to be untimely, a prisoner who has presented a grievance through one complete round of the prison process will nevertheless be deemed to have exhausted available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). See Thomas, 337 F.3d at 733.
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, 111 F.3d at 417. 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.
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.