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Malik v. Dist. of Columbia

September 6, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge


Plaintiff brings this civil rights action against the District of Columbia, the Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA"), and TransCor*fn1 for alleged violations of rights protected by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution that occurred during a 40-hour bus ride from CCA's Northeast Ohio Correctional Center ("NEOCC") in Youngstown, Ohio, to its Central Arizona Detention Center ("CADC") in Florence, Arizona, which began on or about July 2, 2001. Before the Court are Defendants' dispositive motions seeking judgment in their favor on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust available administrative remedies before filing this action.*fn2

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is granted to the movant if it has shown, when the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The mere existence of a factual dispute, by itself, is not sufficient to bar summary judgment. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). To be material, the factual assertion must be capable of affecting the substantive outcome of the litigation; to be genuine, the issue must be supported by sufficient admissible evidence that a reasonable trier of fact could find for the nonmoving party. See id. at 251-52 (court must determine "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law"); Laningham v. U. S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242-43 (D.C. Cir. 1987). The non-moving party must do more than simply "show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249--50 (internal citations omitted). When evaluating a summary judgment motion, "[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge." Id. at 255; Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

II. Exhaustion under the Prison Litigation Reform Act

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") in relevant part provides:

[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 to any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). This exhaustion requirement is mandatory and "applies to all prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences." Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 520 (2002); see Jones v. Bock, 127 S.Ct. 910, 918-19 (2007). Exhaustion under the PLRA requires proper exhaustion, meaning that a prisoner must comply with procedural rules, including filing deadlines, as a precondition to filing a civil suit in federal court, regardless of the relief offered through the administrative process. Woodford v. Ngo, 126 S.Ct. 2378, 2384 (2006); 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 he has exhausted the prison's administrative remedies. Jackson v. District of Columbia, 254 F.3d 262, 269 (D.C. Cir. 2001).

A. CADC's Grievance Procedure

The record shows that CADC "provides all inmates with an Inmate Handbook, which contains a summary of the facility grievance policies and procedures, upon their arrival to the facility." Defs. Corrections Corporation of America & TransCor's Mot. for J. on the Pleadings or, in the Alternative, for Summ. J. ("CCA/TransCor Mot."), Ex. 1 ("Richey Aff.") ¶ 4. Grievable matters "include issues regarding the application of policies, rules and procedures; individual staff and inmate actions, including any denial of access to the grievance procedure; reprisals and retaliation against inmates for filing an appeal; loss of property; and any other matter relating to the conditions of care and supervision within the authority of CCA." Id. ¶ 6. Institutional transfers, however, are not grievable matters.*fn3 Id. CCA explains the inmate grievance procedure in effect at CADC in July 2001 as follows:

The issue in question must be grievable in nature as set forth in the policy, and must be filed by the inmate who has experienced the incident or problem. An inmate cannot file a grievance on behalf of another inmate. The inmate must complete, in its entirety, the approved grievance form for the facility and forward it to the grievance officer in the manner prescribed by the policy. Grievances must be filed within seven days of the incident or problem in question. The facility grievance officer is responsible for reviewing the grievance, investigating and preparing a written decision. This must be done within 15 days of receipt of the grievance. An inmate must appeal any decision on a grievance within five days of receiving the decision. The total time allowed for resolution of a grievance is 90 days from the initial filing to the final appeal. All decisions on grievances can be appealed by the inmate if he or she is dissatisfied with the resolution. A grievance will be considered settled if an inmate does not choose to appeal.

Id. ¶ 5. An inmate fails to exhaust the available administrative remedies if he "fails to follow this procedure or omits any part of it." Id. ¶ 7.

According to CCA, Plaintiff submitted three grievances pertaining to his transfer from NEOCC to CADC, none of which was timely ...

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