United States District Court, District of Arizona
HONORABLE DAVID G. CAMPBELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Before the Court are the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment (Doc. 34, 42). Plaintiff also moves to vacate the Court’s June 19, 2014 order dismissing Counts Two and Three as time-barred and the Court’s September 12, 2014 order dismissing Wilkinson for failure to serve (Docs. 30, 44). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants’ summary judgment, deny Plaintiff’s motions, and terminate this action.
In the sole remaining claim in this action, Plaintiff alleges that in September 2012 Defendants Fernandez-Carr and Prince (Defendants) violated his First Amendment right of access to the courts by refusing to copy legal documents, including a petition for writ of habeas corpus, exhibits thereto, and grievances. As a result, Plaintiff claimed “the court” denied three of his cases because he was unable to submit documents that Defendants refused to copy.
Defendants move for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit (Doc. 34). Plaintiff opposes Defendants’ motion and cross-moves for summary judgment, arguing that he exhausted the remedies available to him and his grievances were improperly screened (Doc. 42).
II. Summary Judgment Standard.
A court must grant summary judgment “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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The movant bears the initial responsibility of presenting the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record, together with affidavits, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.
If the movant fails to carry its initial burden of production, the nonmovant need not produce anything. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Co., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2000). But if the movant meets its initial responsibility, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute and that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 250 (1986); see Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D. Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995). The nonmovant need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor, First Nat’l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968), but it must “come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal citation omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).
At summary judgment, the judge’s function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. In its analysis, the court must believe the nonmovant’s evidence and draw all inferences in the nonmovant’s favor. Id. at 255. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider any other materials in the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).
A. Governing Standard.
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a prisoner must exhaust “available” administrative remedies before filing an action in federal court. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Vaden v. Summerhill, 449 F.3d 1047, 1050 (9th Cir. 2006); Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 934-35 (9th Cir. 2005). The prisoner must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable rules. See Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 92 (2006). Exhaustion is required for all suits about prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 523 (2002), regardless of the type of relief offered through the administrative process, Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001).
The defendant bears the initial burden of showing that there was an available administrative remedy and that the prisoner did not exhaust it. Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1169, 1172 (9th Cir. 2014); see Brown, 422 F.3d at 936-37 (a defendant must demonstrate that applicable relief remained available in the grievance process). Once that showing is made, the burden shifts to the prisoner, who must either demonstrate that he exhausted administrative remedies or “come forward with evidence showing that there is something in his particular case that made the existing and generally available administrative remedies effectively unavailable to him.” Albino, 747 F.3d at 1172. The ultimate burden, however, rests with the defendant. Id. Summary judgment is appropriate if the undisputed evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the prisoner, shows a failure to exhaust. Id. at 1166, 1168; see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
If summary judgment is denied, disputed factual questions relevant to exhaustion should be decided by the judge; a plaintiff is not entitled to a jury trial on the issue of exhaustion. Albino, 747 F.3d at 1170-71. But if a court finds that the prisoner exhausted administrative remedies, that administrative remedies were not available, or that the failure to ...