Garcia v. Bolton et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS AND ADOPTING 38 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS. Signed by District Judge Ron Clark on 3/7/18. (ljw, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
PEDRO A. GARCIA
JOHN P. BOLTON, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 9:17-CV-72
MEMORANDUM ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS AND
ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff, Pedro A. Garcia, an inmate formerly confined at the Polunsky Unit with the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants John P.
Bolton, Sean R. Burks, Johnny R. Farris, Patricia Garney, and Joseph Smith. Defendants Garney,
Farris and Smith filed a Joint Motion for Summary Judgment Limited to Exhaustion of
Administrative Remedies on August 15, 2017 (docket entry no. 24).1
The Court referred this matter to the Honorable Keith Giblin United States Magistrate Judge,
at Beaumont, Texas, for consideration pursuant to applicable laws and orders of this Court. The
Magistrate Judge recommends defendants’ motion for summary judgment be denied.
The Court has received and considered the Report and Recommendation of United States
Magistrate Judge filed pursuant to such order, along with the records, and pleadings. Defendants
filed objections to the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge (docket entry
no. 40). This requires a de novo review of the objections in relation to the pleadings and applicable
law. See FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b).
Defendants argue that plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed for failure to properly exhaust
administrative remedies as plaintiff’s Step 1 grievance was sixty (60) days late. Defendants argue
Defendant Burks was served on August 22, 2017 and filed a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (docket entry nos. 26 & 32). Service on defendant Bolton was returned unexecuted on August
24, 2017 (docket entry no. 25).
this despite the fact that the grievance department responded to the grievance substantively and failed
to deny the grievance as untimely.
As outlined by the Magistrate Judge, plaintiff’s grievances were accepted and processed as
though they were timely. The grievance department considered plaintiff’s complaints and responded
to the grievance on the merits. As such, the statutory exhaustion requirement is satisfied if prison
officials decide a procedurally flawed grievance on the merits. Hammett v. Cofield, 681 F.3d 945,
947 (8th Cir. 2012); Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 125 (2nd Cir. 2011); Reed-Bey v. Pramstaller,
603 F.3d 322, 324-25 (6th Cir. 2010); Riccardo v. Raush, 375 F.3d 521, 524 (7th Cir. 2004);
Eubanks v. Naik, 2014 WL 1117408, at *5 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 19, 2014); Sanchez v. Kyle, 2016 WL
908937 * 3 (E.D. Tex. Jan. 22, 2016).
The Supreme Court has stated that the benefits of the requirement that administrative
remedies be exhausted prior to the filing of a lawsuit “include allowing a prison to address
complaints about the program it administers before being subjected to suit, reducing litigation to the
extent complaints are satisfactorily resolved, and improving litigation that does occur by leading to
the preparation of a use record.” Jones, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). “These benefits are fully realized
when an inmate pursues the prison grievance process through its final stage and receives an adverse
decision on the merits, even if the decision-maker could have declined to reach the merits because
of one or more procedural deficiencies. A complete administrative record exists, and a reviewing
court will have the benefit of the agency’s institutional perspective.” Hammett, 681 F.3d at 947-48.
When a prison “treats a filing as timely and resolved it on the merits, the federal judiciary will not
second-guess that action, for the grievance has served its function of alerting the state and inviting
corrective action.” Ridcardo, 375 F.3d at 524.
While plaintiff’s Step 1 grievance was not filed in a timely fashion, it was nevertheless
considered on the merits. As a result, plaintiff properly exhausted his administrative remedies.2
The issue of whether plaintiff’s first Step 1 grievance was lost is irrelevant to the ultimate conclusion that
the grievance department processed plaintiff’s Step 1 and Step 2 grievance #201618022 on the merits. This issue, as
highlighted by the Magistrate Judge, was only indicative (and not dispositive) of a possible reason for why the
Accordingly, plaintiff’s objections are OVERRULED. The findings of fact and conclusions
of law of the Magistrate Judge are correct, and the report of the Magistrate Judge is ADOPTED.
So ORDERED and SIGNED this 7 day of March, 2018.
Ron Clark, United States District Judge
grievance department chose not to deny plaintiff’s #201718022 grievance as untimely.
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