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Jones v. Unknown Leiter

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 27, 2018

CLARK KENT JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN LEITER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Introduction

         The Court has reviewed the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation in this matter (ECF No. 70) and Plaintiff's Objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 71). Defendants have not filed a Response to Plaintiff's Objections. The Magistrate recommends granting Defendant Leiter's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his constitutional claim. The Court respectfully disagrees with the Magistrate Judge. Because Plaintiff's grievance was sufficient to give fair notice to prison officials of the alleged misconduct that forms the basis of his Eighth Amendment claim, the Court will deny Defendant Leiter's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Legal Standard

         Where a party has objected to portions of a Report and Recommendation, “[t]he district judge . . . has a duty to reject the magistrate judge's recommendation unless, on de novo reconsideration, he or she finds it justified.” 12 Wright, Miller, & Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3070.2, at 381 (2d ed. 1997). Specifically, the Rules provide that:

[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.

Fed R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). De novo review in these circumstances requires at least a review of the evidence before the Magistrate Judge. Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981).

         Timeliness of Objections

         The above standard only applies, however, if a party timely files Objections. There is at least some question in this case whether Plaintiff's Objections were timely filed. The Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation is dated January 19, 2018, but was not mailed until January 22, 2018. Under local rule, Plaintiff had 14 days, or until February 5, 2018, to file his Objections. In addition, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(d), Plaintiff had an additional three days, making his Objections due February 8, 2018. Plaintiff's Objections were not filed until February 9, 2018. (ECF No. 71). Prisoner filings are governed by the prisoner mailbox rule. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 286 (1988). Since Plaintiff had to give his papers to prison officials no later than February 8 to get them delivered and filed by February 9, the Court concludes the Objections are timely. Accordingly, the Court has reviewed de novo the claims and evidence presented to the Magistrate Judge; the Report and Recommendation itself; and Plaintiff's Objections.

         Discussion

         A. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

         The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment. While the Court agrees with much of the Magistrate's analysis, on de novo review the Court finds Plaintiff properly exhausted an Eighth Amendment claim, and accordingly Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be denied.

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), a prisoner bringing an action with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must exhaust his available administrative remedies. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 733 (2001). A prisoner must exhaust available administrative remedies, even if the prisoner may not be able to obtain the specific type of relief he seeks in the state administrative process. See Porter, 534 U.S. at 520; Booth, 532 U.S. at 741; Knuckles El v. Toombs, 215 F.3d 640, 642 (6th Cir. 2000); Freeman v. Francis, 196 F.3d 641, 643 (6th Cir. 1999). In order to exhaust administrative remedies, prisoners must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the deadlines and other applicable procedural rules. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 217-218 (2007); Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90-91 (2006). “Compliance with prison grievance procedures, therefore, is all that is required by the PLRA to ‘properly exhaust.'” Jones, 549 U.S. at 217-218.

         In determining whether this plaintiff has properly exhausted his claims, the Court finds particularly instructive the analysis of the Sixth Circuit in Bell v. Konteh, 450 F.3d 651 (6th Cir. 2006), abrogated on other ...


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