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Carson v. Hall

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division

June 18, 2018

RASHAAD CARSON, Plaintiff,
v.
PHIL HALL, Warden, Telfair State Prison; BARBARA JEAN GRANT, Unit Manager of the Tier Program/Segregation; and JARED WICKER, STG Coordinator, Defendants.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EFPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Hancock State Prison in Sparta, Georgia, brought the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding events alleged to have occurred at Telfair State Prison in Helena, Georgia. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Before the Court is Defendants' pre-answer motions to dismiss (doc. no. 17), which the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS be GRANTED and this case DISMISSED and CLOSED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges the following facts, which must be taken as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss.

         Plaintiff was on the Security Group Threat (“SGT”) list as a member of the “Bounty Hunters” gang. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff wanted to remove his affiliation and was placed in segregation. (Id.) Warden Hall told Plaintiff he could remain in segregation until he was removed from the SGT list. (Id.) After Plaintiff received a disciplinary report on December 17, 2016, Plaintiff wrote Warden Hall to “remind him of [Plaintiff's] situation.” (Id.) Plaintiff asked Warden Hall to inform Ms. Grant that Warden Hall gave Plaintiff permission to remain in segregation until “renuncification [sic] was complete.” (Id.) Warden Hall ignored Plaintiff. (Id.)

         Plaintiff wrote Ms. Grant, explaining he was “in the process of renuncification [sic]” and did not feel safe until the STG designation was removed from his record. (Id.) Ms. Grant told Plaintiff “‘I don't give a damn inmate, either you pack up or your ass is goin' to the tier.'” (Id.) Plaintiff also informed Mr. Wicker, who told Plaintiff he was still “‘on the list.'” (Id.) Plaintiff received two additional disciplinary reports because he refused to move out of segregation. (Id.) Plaintiff lost privileges due to the disciplinary reports. (Id.) Plaintiff told Warden Hall, Ms. Grant, and Mr. Wicker he “wasn't safe [in general population] until [he] was officially renounced” but Plaintiff was “never offered . . . protective custody.” (Id. at 5-6.)

         On March 3, 2017, Ms. Grant “forced [Plaintiff] out of segregation” and into general population. (Id. at 5.) Approximately four hours later, Plaintiff was “stabbed over a dozen times in the chest by a gang member.” (Id.) Plaintiff has never been removed from the STG list. (Id.) Plaintiff has “experienced mild flashbacks” as a result of the attack and has undergone a mental health evaluation. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff seeks $100, 000 in punitive damages, $15, 000 in nominal damages, and removal of the disciplinary reports and sanctions from his files. (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed three grievances relevant to the present motion. Plaintiff filed grievance number 233749 on December 18, 2016, alleging on December 14 and 16, 2016, he was asked to “move from E1 to D-building, ” where he did not feel he was safe because of a prior altercation with an inmate housed there. (Doc. no. 17-6, p. 4.) On December 30, 2016, Warden Hall evaluated and denied grievance 233749 because routine housing assignments are not grievable. (Id. at 1.) On January 4, 2017, Plaintiff acknowledged receipt of the grievance denial. (Id.) Plaintiff did not appeal the denial of grievance number 233749. (Doc. nos. 17-2, ¶ 22; 17-5.)

         Plaintiff filed grievance number 237605 on February 7, 2017, alleging TSP Lieutenant J. Beasley “operates the [disciplinary report] hearings with impunity, having no regards for the facts, nor Standard Operations of Procedure, nor the Due Process of the D.R. investigations . . . .” (Doc. no. 17-7, p. 2.) On March 16, 2017, Warden Hall evaluated and denied grievance 237605 on the ground disciplinary reports, hearings, procedures, punishment, fees, or assessments are non-grieveable. (Id. at 3.) On March 22, 2017, Plaintiff acknowledged receipt of the grievance denial. (Id.) On March 24, 2017, Plaintiff appealed Warden Hall's denial of grievance 237605. (Id. at 1.) In his grievance appeal form, Plaintiff alleged he was stabbed on March 3, 2017, after being moved out of segregation and had warned Defendants about the substantial risk of serious harm he would face if not housed in segregation. (Id.) On May 2, 2017, the Central Office denied Plaintiff's appeal on the ground that disciplinary procedures, punishments, and assessments are not grievable issues. (Doc. no. 17-8, p. 2.) The Central Office did not address the facts regarding the March 3rd stabbing, which Plaintiff first alleged regarding grievance 237605 in his grievance appeal form. (Id.; doc. no. 17-7, p. 1.)

         On March 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed grievance number 238687, alleging he was stabbed on March 3, 2017, after being released from segregation prior to completely renouncing his gang affiliation. (Doc. no. 17-9, p. 4.) Plaintiff alleged he asked Defendants to remain in segregation and informed them of the substantial risk of serious harm he faced by being taken out of segregation and received five disciplinary reports for initially refusing to move out of segregation. (Id.) On March 16, 2017, Warden Hall evaluated and denied grievance 238687 on the ground disciplinary reports and grievances containing multiple issues are non-grievable. (Id. at 1.) On April 4, 2017, Plaintiff acknowledged receipt of the grievance denial. (Id.) Plaintiff did not appeal the denial of grievance number 237687. (Doc. nos. 17-2, ¶ 24; 17-5.)

         II. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS SHOULD BE GRANTED BECAUSE PLAINTIFF FAILED TO EXHAUST HIS ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES.

         A. The Legal Framework

         Where, as here, Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss based on failure to exhaust administrative remedies, the Eleventh Circuit has laid out a two-step process for courts to use in resolving such motions. First, the Court looks to the factual allegations made by both parties, taking the plaintiff's version as true where they conflict, and if in that light the complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, Defendant's motion will be granted. Turner v. Burnside, 541 F.3d 1077, 1082-83 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1373-74 (11th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1074 (2008)). If the complaint is not subject to dismissal at the first step, then at step two the Court makes specific findings to resolve the disputed factual issues, with Defendant bearing the burden of proving Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Id. Based on its findings as to the disputed factual issues, the Court determines whether the prisoner has exhausted his available administrative remedies and thus whether the motion to dismiss should be granted. Id. Because exhaustion “is treated as a matter of abatement and not an adjudication on the merits, it is proper for a judge to consider facts outside the pleadings and to resolve factual disputes so long as the factual disputes do not decide the merits and the parties have sufficient opportunity to develop a record.” Bryant, 530 F.3d at 1376 (citations omitted).

         Section 1997e(a) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) 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). The PLRA's mandatory exhaustion requirement “applies to all prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences.” Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 520 (2002). Moreover, the Court does not have discretion to waive the requirement, even if it ...


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