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Rodrigues v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 6, 2017

Anthony L. Rodrigues, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Anthony L. Rodrigues, who is currently confined in the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, brought this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Arizona state law. Defendants Ryan, Diaz, Rider, Winkler, and Santiago have filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim and for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and Plaintiff opposes the Motion. (Docs. 24, 39.) Defendants Washington and Management & Training Corporation (MTC) join in the Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 53.) For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         In his First Amended Complaint (FAC), Plaintiff alleged that in July 2015, Defendants allowed the Arizona State Prison (ASP)-Kingman, where he was housed, to devolve to the point where a riot broke out. Plaintiff was injured in the riot even though he did not participate in it.[1] (Doc. 20 at 8-15.) Shortly after the riot, Plaintiff was transferred to the Red Rock Correctional Center. (Id. at 17.) Plaintiff seeks “declaratory/injunctive relief, ” damages, attorney's fees, and costs. (Id. at 36.)

         In a May 16, 2017 Report and Recommendation (R&R), Magistrate Judge Willett screened Plaintiff's FAC and recommended that the Court dismiss Counts One, Four, Five and Six, that Defendants Ryan, Rider, Santiago, Diaz, Winkler, and Frederick be required to answer the Eighth Amendment threat-to-safety claim in Count Two, that Defendants MTC, Washington, Rider, Santiago, Diaz, Winkler, and Frederick be required to answer the negligence claim in Count Three, and that Defendant MTC be required to answer the negligent training claim in Count Three.[2] (Doc. 22 at 11.) In a June 9, 2017 Order, the Court accepted the R&R and required the Defendants to answer the claims against them as set forth in the R&R. (Doc. 27.)

         Before the Court adopted the R&R, Defendants filed the pending Motion to Dismiss. (Docs. 24, 53.) Although Defendants' Motion to Dismiss was premature, the Motion is now fully briefed and Plaintiff was additionally permitted to file a sur-reply. Therefore, the Court will consider the merits of the Motion.

         II. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion “tests the legal sufficiency of a claim.” Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court takes all allegations of material fact as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Marcus v. Holder, 574 F.3d 1182, 1184 (9th Cir. 2009). The court will “‘presume that general allegations embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim.'” Nat'l Org. for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 256 (1994) (quotation omitted). Where the plaintiff is a pro se prisoner, the court must “construe the pleadings liberally and [] afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).

         As a general rule, when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court looks only to the face of the complaint and documents attached thereto. Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network, Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002); Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990). If a court considers evidence outside the pleading, it must convert the Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 907-08 (9th Cir. 2003). A court may, however, consider documents incorporated by reference in the complaint or matters of judicial notice without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. Exhaustion

         Defendants argue first that Plaintiff cannot recover for his alleged personal injuries because he did not exhaust his administrative remedies. (Doc. 24 at 3.) Under the PLRA, 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 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).

         In a limited number of cases, the failure to exhaust may be clear from the face of the complaint, but “such cases will be rare because a plaintiff is not required to say anything about exhaustion in his complaint.” Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1169 (9th Cir. 2014); see Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007) (failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense and a prisoner is not required to plead or demonstrate exhaustion in the complaint). In the rare case where failure to exhaust is clear from the face of the complaint, the defendant may move to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Albino, 747 F.3d at 1169. To properly be considered on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the nonexhaustion defense must raise no disputed issues of fact. See Scott v. Kuhlmann, 746 F.2d 1377, 1378 (9th Cir. 1984) (affirmative defense may be raised by motion to dismiss only if “the defense raises no disputed issues of fact”). Typically, to show that a prisoner has failed to exhaust remedies, a defendant will have to present probative evidence on a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. Albino, 747 F.3d at 1169.

         Here, the Court cannot conclude from the face of the FAC that administrative remedies were made available to Plaintiff and that he failed to exhaust them. Plaintiff merely checked the boxes on the complaint form indicating that he had appealed his allegations in Counts Two and Three to the highest level. (See Doc. 20 at 19, 25.) In support of their Motion, Defendants have included grievance documents which they argue show that Plaintiff did not fully exhaust his claims. (Doc. 24 at 4; 24-1 at 2-7 (Defs.' Ex. 1).) But the Court cannot consider these documents without going beyond the face of the FAC. This is not permitted on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for ...

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