Brown v. Camp Hill et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting 126 Motion for Reconsideration. Defendants are to file the additional Motion for Summary Judgment and accompanying briefs and exhibits within 45 days of the date of this Order.Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 8/16/2018 (bg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CHARLES EDWARD BROWN,
WILLIAM D. SPRENKLE, et al.,
Presently before me is Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 126) of my
September 25, 2017 Order (Doc. 125) denying their Motion for Leave to File an
additional motion for summary judgment (Doc. 123). Defendants have pleaded failure
to exhaust administrative remedies as an affirmative defense to Plaintiff Charles
Edward Brown’s claim that he was transferred to a different prison in retaliation for
filing grievances and a lawsuit. (Docs. 66, 80.) Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 81) was denied because Brown raised a dispute of material fact
regarding his exhaustion of administrative remedies by establishing that he had
allegedly timely filed a grievance which was not processed by prison officials. In their
Motion for Leave to File an additional summary judgment motion, Defendants stated
that a preliminary investigation had revealed Brown failed to exhaust this grievance.
The Motion was denied. Now, in their Motion for Reconsideration, Defendants submit
that exhaustion is a threshold issue that must be resolved by the Court before trial, and
request that they either be allowed to submit an additional motion for summary
judgment or that I hold a hearing on the issue.
The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law
or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. See Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779
F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985). A motion for reconsideration may be granted if the
movant establishes: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability
of new evidence that was not available when the court decided the motion; or (3) the
need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Max’s
Seafood Café, by Lou–Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999).
As Defendants point out, under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
courts must resolve issues of exhaustion before a case is presented to a jury. See Small
v. Camden Cnty., 728 F.3d 265, 269-270 (3d Cir. 2013). In Small, the Third Circuit
explained that “[u]nder the PLRA, exhaustion is a precondition for bringing suit under
§ 1983.  As such, just as subject-matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and venue,
exhaustion is a threshold issue that courts must address to determine whether litigation
is being conducted in the right forum at the right time.” Id. (internal quotation
omitted)(emphasis in original). The Court found that, therefore, a district court did not
err by acting as the fact finder in resolving disputed issues of fact relating to
exhaustion, because “exhaustion constitutes a preliminary issue for which no right to
a jury trial exists.” Id. at 271.
Here, the issue whether Brown has exhausted the grievance process as required
under the PLRA must be resolved before the case can proceed to trial. Therefore, I find
that Defendants have met the standard for granting a motion for reconsideration, since
it would be a clear error of law in light of the above precedent to submit the exhaustion
issue to a jury. I will allow Defendants to file an additional motion for summary
judgment to address this issue.
Accordingly, NOW, this 16th day of August, 2018, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
that Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 126) is GRANTED. Defendants
are to file the additional Motion for Summary Judgment and accompanying briefs and
exhibits within 45 days of the date of this Order.
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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