Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bennett v. Michigan Department of Corrections

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

March 28, 2018

CARL BENNETT #298713, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER (1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (ECF #63) AND (2) DENYING DEFENDANT MDOC'S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF #37)

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Carl Bennett is a former inmate of the Michigan Department of Corrections (the “MDOC”). In this action, Bennett alleges that the MDOC was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs while he was in its custody. (See Am. Compl., ECF #34.) The MDOC moved to dismiss Bennett's claims on the basis that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, as required under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), by not filing a Step III grievance. (See ECF #37.) The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation in which he recommended granting the MDOC's motion and dismissing Bennett's claims (the “R&R”). (See ECF #52.) Bennett filed objections. (See ECF #50.) The Court thereafter entered an order overruling Bennett's objections and dismissing Bennett's claims against the MDOC. (See ECF #61.) Bennett has now filed a motion for reconsideration of that order. (See ECF #63.) For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Bennett's Motion for Reconsideration and DENIES the MDOC's Motion to Dismiss.

         I

         A

         On December 24, 2015, Bennett filed a pro se prisoner civil-rights Complaint in which he alleged, among other things, that the MDOC was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. (See Compl., ECF #1.) Bennett subsequently obtained counsel, and his counsel filed an Amended Complaint on his behalf. (See Am. Compl., ECF #34.)

         On December 19, 2016, the MDOC moved to dismiss Bennett's Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (See ECF #37.) In its motion, the MDOC argued that Bennett failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by not filing a Step III grievance. (See id.) In support of its motion, the MDOC attached a search result report generated by its Step III grievance database (the “Step III Grievance Report”). (See ECF #37-3.) According to the MDOC, the Step III Grievance Report reflected that Bennett had not filed a Step III grievance. (See ECF #37 at Pg. ID 315.)

         Bennett filed a response in opposition to the motion on January 9, 2017. (See ECF #39.) In the response, Bennett argued, among other things, that the Court should deny the motion because the MDOC “failed to specify the Rule 12 subsection that forms the basis for its motion and failed to supply this Court with any legal analysis demonstrating that its motion meets the applicable Rule 12 standard.” (Id. at Pg. ID 363.) Bennett next argued that the Step III Grievance Report, standing alone, failed to establish the MDOC's failure-to-exhaust defense. (See Id. at Pg. ID 364-65.) Bennett cited two district court opinions to support his argument that a search report, by itself, does not establish that the inmate failed to file a Step III appeal form. (See Id. (citing Jackson v. Snyder, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136988, at *8-9 (W.D. Mich. Sept. 29, 2014) and Harris v. Scott, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112393, at *10-11 (W.D. Mich. July 26, 2016)).) In Harris, the Magistrate Judge concluded that a single “MDOC Prisoner Step III Grievance Report” - unsupported by any explanatory affidavit - was insufficient to establish the failure-to-exhaust defense. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112393 at *10-11.

         The MDOC then filed a reply brief (see ECF #43), and it attached to that brief an affidavit from Richard D. Russell, Manager of the Grievance Section of the MDOC. (See Aff. of Richard D. Russell (“Russell Aff.”), ECF #43-2.) In that affidavit, Russell averred that the Step III Grievance Report was an accurate copy and that Bennett had not filed any Step III grievance appeals. (See id.)

         The Court referred the MDOC's motion to the assigned Magistrate Judge. On July 24, 2017, the Magistrate issued the R&R in which he recommended that the Court grant the MDOC's motion and dismiss Bennett's claims without prejudice due to Bennett's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. (See R&R, ECF #50.) The Magistrate Judge first found “no fault in Defendant not citing a specific provision of Fed.R.Civ. P. 12.” (Id. at Pg. ID 681.) The Magistrate Judge then concluded that the motion was properly brought as an unenumerated Rule 12 motion. (See id.) The Magistrate Judge finally concluded that “the Step III Grievance Report, along with Mr. Russell's affidavit, supports Defendant's allegation that Plaintiff did not exhaust any grievance through Step III of the administrative process.” (Id. at 682-83.)

         B

         On August 7, 2017, Bennett filed timely objections to the R&R (the “Objections”). (See ECF #52.) In the Objections, Bennett made two primary objections:

(1) Bennett argued that the MDOC prevented him from exhausting his administrative remedies. (See id.) In support of that claim, Bennett submitted an affidavit from his counsel. (See Affidavit of Attorney Carla D. Aikens Esq. (“Aikens Aff.”), ECF #52-3.) In that affidavit, Bennett's counsel recounted a communication from Bennett in which Bennett told her that the MDOC frustrated his efforts to exhaust his administrative remedies. (See id.) (2) Bennett contended that the Magistrate Judge should not have considered the Russell Affidavit because the MDOC first submitted it as an exhibit to a reply brief to which Bennett had no opportunity to respond. (See Obj., ECF #52 at Pg. ID 700.)

         On September 25, 2017, the Court entered an order in which it overruled Bennett's Objections to the R&R, granted the MDOC's Motion to Dismiss, and dismissed Bennett's claims against the MDOC without prejudice (the “Order”). (See Order, ECF #61.) The Court overruled Bennett's Objections for two main reasons. First, the Court concluded that the Step III Grievance Report and the Russell Affidavit were sufficient to show that Bennett failed to file the required Step III grievance. (See Id. at Pg. ID 914.) Second, the Court concluded that Bennett had not submitted any competent evidence that the MDOC frustrated his ability to file a Step III grievance. (See Id. at Pg. ID 915.) The Court ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.