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Carter v. Puett

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

June 7, 2018

GIVONNO CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU PUETT, Sgt., Marion Correctional Institute, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, (Doc. No. 16), filed by Defendants Virginia Brookshire, Teresa Puett, and Keith Turner.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Givonno Carter, a North Carolina prisoner incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, North Carolina, filed this action on October 10, 2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as Defendants: (1) FNU Puett, [1] identified as a sergeant at Marion; (2) FNU Turner, identified as the unit manager at Marion; and (3) FNU Brookshire, identified as a mail room officer at Marion. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges, among other things, that Defendants intentionally interfered with and delayed his incoming mail, in violation of his “constitutional rights.” (Doc. No. 1 at 2-3). Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory damages. (Id. at 7).

         On January 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Verified Statement of Exhaustion, (Doc. No. 11), wherein he attached and identified under penalties of perjury, Grievance Nos. 3730-2017-FU3W-05699 and 3730-2017-DU2E-05906 (“Nos. 05699 and 05906, ” respectively), as the grievances that demonstrate his exhaustion of his administrative remedies.

         Defendants filed the pending motion for judgment on the pleadings on February 28, 2018, contending that Plaintiff's claims are barred under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) by his failure to fully exhaust his available administrative remedies. (Doc. No. 16). On March 2, 2018, this Court entered an order, in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the requirements for filing a response to the pending motion and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. (Doc. No. 18). Plaintiff has filed a response, and Defendants have filed a reply. See (Doc. Nos. 19, 22).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Although Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, both parties attached documents to their briefs related to the motion. Therefore, it is appropriate for the Court to convert the motion into one for summary judgment. Summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A factual dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Id.

         The movant has the “initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal citations omitted).

         Once this initial burden is met, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving party “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 322 n.3. The nonmoving party may not rely upon mere allegations or denials of allegations in his pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 324. The nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence from which “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Sylvia Dev. Corp. v. Calvert County, Md., 48 F.3d 810, 818 (4th Cir. 1995).

         When ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view the evidence and any inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. “‘Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'” Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 2677 (2009) (quoting Matsushita v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires a prisoner to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing a Section 1983 action. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The PLRA provides, in pertinent part: “[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.” Id. In Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516 (2002), the Supreme Court held that the PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life. The Court ruled that “exhaustion in cases covered by § 1997e(a) is now mandatory.” Id.at 524 (citation omitted). The Porter Court stressed that, under the PLRA, exhaustion must take place before the commencement of the civil action in order to further the efficient administration of justice. Id.

         In Woodford v. Ngo,548 U.S. 81 (2006), the Supreme Court held that the PLRA exhaustion requirement requires “proper” exhaustion: “Administrative law . . . requir[es] proper exhaustion of administrative remedies, which ‘means using all steps that the agency holds out, and doing so properly (so that the agency addresses the issues on the merits).'” Id.at 90 (quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry,286 F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002)). In Jones v. Bock,549 U.S. 199 (2007), the Supreme Court stated: “There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.” Id.at 211 (citing Porter, 534 U.S. at 524). Finally, the ...


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