WILLIAMS v. ARMEL et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER indicating that that Defendant Saavedra's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, (Docket 120 ), which has been converted into a Motion for Summary Judgment on the sole issue of Exhaustion, (Docket 122 ), is granted an d that Defendant Saavedra is hereby dismissed from this action with prejudice; that Plaintiff's Objections (Docket 246 ) to the R&R are overruled; that the R&R (Docket 225 ) is adopted as the Opinion of the District Court. Signed by Judge Nora Barry Fischer on 9/8/17. (jg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
JOHN E. WETZEL, ET AL.,
District Judge Nora Barry Fischer
Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan
This matter comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff Mark-Alonzo Williams’
Objections (Docket 246) to the Report & Recommendation (“R&R”) of Magistrate Judge Lisa
Pupo Lenihan entered on August 15, 2017. (Docket 225). The R&R recommends granting
Defendant Peter Saavedra’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, (Docket 120), which
has been converted into a Motion for Summary Judgment on the sole issue of exhaustion.
The R&R, therefore, recommends dismissing Defendant Saavedra from this
action with prejudice. Service of the R&R was made on all parties. Plaintiff filed timely
Objections to the R&R, which were received and docketed on August 31, 2017. (Docket 246).
In resolving a party’s objections, the Court conducts a de novo review of any part of the
R&R that has been properly objected to. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The
Court may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition, as well as receive further
evidence or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. Id. Upon careful de novo
review of the Second Amended Complaint, Defendant Saavedra’s converted Motion for
Summary Judgment on the sole issue of exhaustion, the parties’ briefs filed in connection with
the Motion, the R&R, and Plaintiff’s Objections, the Court concludes that the Objections do not
undermine the R&R’s recommended disposition.
The R&R succinctly explains the mandatory exhaustion requirement set forth in the
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), as well as the three-step
grievance procedure in DC-ADM 804 of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ Inmate
Grievance System Policy. The R&R correctly rejected Plaintiff’s argument that the grievance
procedure was not available to him because of his contention that he never received an answer
from his appeal to the Facility Manager at the second step of DC-ADM 804. See Ross v. Blake,
__ U.S. __, 136 S. Ct. 1850, 1859 (2016) (“[A]n inmate is required to exhaust those, but only
those, grievance procedures that are ‘capable of use’ to obtain ‘some relief for the action
complained of.’”). In reaching this conclusion, the R&R noted, inter alia, that the Department of
Corrections has no record of this document ever being submitted by Plaintiff. (Docket 225 at 6).
Consequently, Plaintiff’s bare and generalized assertion in his Objections of “procedural
interference” by prison officials regarding his submission of this document, see (Docket 246 at ¶
4), is insufficient to establish that the administrative remedies were not available to him. See
Spearman v. Morris, 643 Fed. App’x 82, 85 (3d Cir. 2016).1
Moreover, even if it is true that the appeal that Plaintiff attached to his Second Amended
Complaint was not stamped because it was an original copy and even if prison officials excused
Plaintiff from submitting said appeal on the correct form, as Plaintiff contends in his Objections,
see (Docket 246 at ¶¶ 3, 13-15), the fact remains that Plaintiff did not properly comply with the
first step of DC-ADM 804 when he submitted Grievance No. 628384. See Jones v. Bock, 549
The Court further notes that Plaintiff’s Objections are self-contradictory because on the one hand,
he claims that he actually filed his appeal at the second step of DC-ADM 804, see (Docket 246 at ¶¶ 3-4),
but on the other hand, he claims that he was prevented from appealing to the second step because he was
not permitted to have a pen, id. at ¶¶ 18-19.
U.S. 199,218 (2007) (“[I]t is the prison’s requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the proper
boundaries of proper exhaustion.”). As explained in the R&R, this grievance was initially
rejected by the Facility Grievance Coordinator on June 3, 2016 because Plaintiff did not submit it
within the applicable time limit and because it complained of different events that could not be
raised in a single grievance. (Docket 225 at 5). After Plaintiff was allowed to resubmit the
grievance, it was rejected a second time on June 7, 2016 because he failed to provide the
required documentation. Id.
Thus, irrespective of Plaintiff’s assertions in his Objections that he did, in fact, file an
appeal at the second step of the grievance procedure, he failed to properly comply with the first
step. See Small v. Camden Cty., 728 F.3d 265, 273 (3d Cir. 2013) (holding that an inmate’s
grievances that did not comply with the institution’s procedures “could not serve as a basis for
satisfying the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement”); Boynes v. Cty. of Lawrence, 2017 WL 746807,
*4 (W.D. Pa. 2017) (“Plaintiff’s position that the administrative remedies . . . were not available
to him when he did not receive responses to [his improperly submitted] grievances . . . is without
merit.”). As a result, the R&R correctly determined that Plaintiff’s claims under 42 U.S.C.
§1983 against Defendant Saavedra are barred by the mandatory exhaustion provision of the
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Saavedra’s Motion to Dismiss
for Failure to State a Claim, (Docket ), which has been converted into a Motion for
Summary Judgment on the sole issue of Exhaustion, (Docket ), is GRANTED and that
Defendant Saavedra is hereby dismissed from this action with prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Objections (Docket ) to the R&R are
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the R&R (Docket ) is adopted as the Opinion of
the District Court.
/s/ Nora Barry Fischer
Nora Barry Fischer
United States District Judge
Dated: September 8, 2017.
cc/ecf: All counsel of record.
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 8837
Camp Hill, PA 17001
(via regular mail)
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?