Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 06-10934-Victoria A. Roberts, District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sutton, Circuit Judge.
RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION Pursuant to Sixth Circuit Rule 206
Submitted: April 22, 2010
Before: GUY, BOGGS and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.
Mark Anthony Reed-Bey, a Michigan inmate, appeals a district court's judgment dismissing his § 1983 lawsuit against Michigan prison officials on the ground that he did not exhaust his claim. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Reed-Bey pursued his grievance through all three levels of prison review, yet he failed to identify the "names of all those involved" in the grievance, as the prison's grievance procedures require. R.42-6 ¶ T. Because the Michigan Department of Corrections opted to dismiss his grievance on the merits rather than invoke its procedural bar, Reed-Bey exhausted his claim. We reverse and remand.
On September 12, 2005, Reed-Bey injured his shoulder during a prison basketball game, sufficiently badly that one of the bones was visibly out of place. That evening, an emergency-room physician diagnosed Reed-Bey with a Grade III acromioclavicular separation and ligament damage. The emergency-room physician discharged Reed-Bey later that night and recommended that he see an orthopedic specialist within five days.
Prison officials did not send Reed-Bey to an orthopedic specialist until December 1, even though he requested follow-up care at least four times in the interim and even though an October 25 X-ray showed that the shoulder separation had worsened. On December 1, the specialist told Reed-Bey that his shoulder required surgery and that the shoulder pain and accompanying headaches-some lasting up to three days-would persist until doctors fixed his shoulder. Prison officials did not approve his shoulder surgery until some time after March 2006.
On October 10, 2005, Reed-Bey filed a prison grievance complaining about the lack of follow-up care for the injury. When the prison failed to respond within 15 business days, as required by prison policy, he filed a Step II grievance appeal on November 3. On November 18, Nurses Nzums and Ingram rejected Reed-Bey's initial grievance, noting that prison officials had requested an orthopedic consultation but were awaiting approval from Correctional Medical Services, a private health-management company hired by the State of Michigan to provide medical services for the Department of Corrections. When prison officials failed to respond to his Step II appeal by the required deadline, Reed-Bey filed a Step III appeal with the Director of Prisons on December 6. On December 28, Carolynn DuBuc, a health unit manager, belatedly denied Reed-Bey's Step II appeal because his care complied with "contemporary standards of medical practice in the community" and because the prison health staff had given him adequate pain medication. R.1 Ex. D at 2. On March 20, two months after the deadline for resolving Reed-Bey's Step III appeal had passed, the Director of Prisons denied Reed-Bey's Step III appeal on the merits.
On March 1, 2006, Reed-Bey sued the Michigan Department of Corrections and Correctional Medical Services, along with several employees of both entities, alleging that they violated his Eighth (and Fourteenth) Amendment rights by denying him adequate medical care. Roughly a month later, the district court summarily dismissed the lawsuit because Reed-Bey did not properly exhaust his administrative remedies by naming all of the defendants in his initial grievance, as required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321-66-or so we (and the district court) thought at the time. See Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 575 (6th Cir. 2003). Roughly a year later, the Supreme Court overruled Burton's interpretation of the PLRA, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007), and accordingly we vacated the district court's decision in Reed-Bey and remanded the case for further consideration.
On remand, CMS filed a motion to dismiss, again claiming that the PLRA barred Reed-Bey's lawsuit because he did not name CMS in his initial grievance. Because the "name all defendants" rule was part of the Department of Corrections' internal grievance policies, CMS argued, the PLRA barred Reed-Bey's suit, notwithstanding Jones v. Bock. The Department of Corrections, Pramstaller, Russell and Vadlamudi moved for summary judgment under the same theory. The district court granted both motions, and on its own initiative it also dismissed Reed-Bey's claims against DuBuc, Jackson, Nzums and Ingram.