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Hallums v. Figueroa

March 28, 2007

THERESA HALLUMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRED FIGUEROA, WARDEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 11

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has brought this action alleging that her civil rights were violated at the District of Columbia Correctional Treatment Facility ("CTF"). The complaint names as defendants the Warden and several employees of the CTF. Pending before the Court is the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. Because the plaintiff has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, the defendants' motion will be granted and the case dismissed without prejudice.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that on or about January 3, 2006, officers at the CTF subjected her to an illegal cavity search. Compl. at 2. At approximately 11:00 a.m. on that date, she was escorted to the visiting hall bathroom. Id. Plaintiff claims that the search lasted six hours and during that time she repeatedly had to bend over and squat to have her vagina examined. Id. at 2-3. She further alleges that she requested to be taken to a doctor or nurse, but that the officers refused to do so. Id. at 4. Because plaintiff was ordered to expose her vagina in a number of different positions, she claims that she suffered physical and emotional injury. Id. at 3. She seeks monetary relief. Id. at 5.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss

In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Taylor v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 132 F.3d 753, 761 (D.C. Cir. 1997). "[A] complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle [her] to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). "Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 515 (2002) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

B. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

The defendants move to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the plaintiff has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). In relevant part, the PLRA provides that:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined to any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The exhaustion requirement of Section 1997e(a) is mandatory and "applies to all prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences." Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 520 (2002). Section 1997e(a) "afford[s] corrections officials time and opportunity to address complaints internally before allowing the initiation of a federal case," and, where possible, to "satisfy the inmate, thereby obviating the need for litigation." Id. at 524-25. A prisoner must complete the administrative process "regardless of the relief offered through administrative avenues." Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). Thus, a prisoner may file a civil action concerning conditions of confinement under federal law only after she has exhausted administrative remedies. Jackson v. Dist. of Columbia, 254 F.3d 262, 269 (D.C. Cir. 2001).

The PLRA's exhaustion requirement is not a jurisdictional bar, but simply governs the timing of the action. Ali v. Dist. of Columbia, 278 F.3d 1, 5-6 (D.C. Cir. 2002). The failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense under the PLRA, and inmates are not required to plead or demonstrate exhaustion in their complaints. Jones v. Bock, 127 S.Ct. 910, 921 (2007). However, if the allegations, taken as true, show that relief ...


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