United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ERIC DION COLEMAN, JACOB GOMEZ, TONY LOVATO, MATTHEW J. LUCERO, EDWARD R. MANZANARES, JOE MARTINEZ, CHRISTOPHER MAVIS, PHILIP TALACHY, FELIPE J. TRUJILLO, and JOSEPH VIGIL, on their own behalf and on behalf of a class of similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
SANTA FE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, and MARK GALLEGOS, in his individual and official capacity, and INDUSTRIAL COMMERCIAL COATINGS, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING COUNTY
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
MATTER comes before the Court upon a Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment by Defendants Santa Fe County Board of
Commissioners and Mark Gallegos (“County
Defendants” or “Defendants” for purposes of
this motion), filed on July 23, 2018 (Doc.
125). Having reviewed the parties' pleadings and
the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendants'
motion is not well- taken and, therefore, is denied.
case is a putative class action arising from Defendants'
renovation of the shower facilities at the Santa Fe Adult
Correctional Facility (“detention facility”) in
2014 when Plaintiffs and the class members were inmates at
the ACF. Plaintiffs allege that they were exposed to dust,
debris, and hazardous chemicals, which caused them injury.
The Second Amended Class Action Complaint contains four
(1) Deprivation of Civil Rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983
against County Defendants;
(2) Supervisory Liability under §1983 against County
(3) Claims under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, NMSA 1978,
¶41-4-7 and §41- 4-12 against County Defendants;
(4) Claims against Defendant ICC under New Mexico Common Law.
136. In this motion, Defendants seek dismissal of
Plaintiffs' §1983 claims in Counts I and II because
they are barred by the Prison Litigation Reform Act due to
these Plaintiffs' failure to exhaust the available
grievance procedure available at the Santa Fe County Adult
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) states, in
pertinent part: “No action shall be brought with
respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this
title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in
any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such
administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The PLRA's
exhaustion requirement “applies to all inmate suits
about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances
or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive
force or some other wrong.” Sanders v.
Williams, No. CIV 08-0895 JB/WPL, 2010 WL 1631767, at *7
(D.N.M. March 20, 2010) (Browning, J.) (quoting Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002)). As the United States
Supreme Court explained:
Once within the discretion of the district court, exhaustion
in cases covered by § 1997e(a) is now mandatory. All
available remedies must now be exhausted; those remedies need
not meet federal standards, nor must they be plain, speedy,
and effective. Even when the prisoner seeks relief not
available in grievance proceedings, notably money damages,
exhaustion is a prerequisite to suit. And unlike the previous
provision, which encompassed only § 1983 suits,
exhaustion is now required for all action[s] . . . brought
with respect to prison conditions, whether under § 1983
or any other Federal law.
Porter, 534 U.S. at 524 (citations omitted)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
prisoner may not satisfy the PLRA's exhaustion
requirements “by filing an untimely or otherwise
procedurally defective administrative grievance or
appeal.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 83-84
(2006). “[P]roper exhaustion of administrative remedies
. . . means using all steps that the agency holds out, and
doing so properly (so that the agency addresses the issues on
the merits).” Id., 548 U.S. at 90 (internal
quotation marks omitted). The level of detail necessary in a
grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary
from system to system and claim to claim, but “it is
the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define
the boundaries of proper exhaustion.” Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 210 (2007). Thus, a prisoner who
does not complete the grievance process as laid out in that
procedure is barred from pursuing a claim in Federal Court.
See Little v. Jones, 607 F.3d 1245, 1249 (10th Cir.
claim they are entitled to summary judgment on §1983
claims asserted by Plaintiffs Armendariz, Coleman, Gomez,
Lovato, Manzanares, Trujillo and Vigil because these
individuals did not exhaust their administrative remedies as
required by the PLRA. They contend that each of these
Plaintiffs were incarcerated at the time they asserted their
§1983 claims against the County Defendants on March 14,
2017. See Martinez v. Guadalupe Cty., 200 F.Supp.3d
1216, 1260 (D.N.M. 2016) (it is the plaintiff's status as
of the time he first asserts the violation of his federal
rights under § 1983 that determines if the plaintiff is
an incarcerated prisoner for purposes of the PLRA);
Norton v. City of Marietta, Okla, 432 F.3d 1145,
1150 (10th Cir. 2005) (it is plaintiff's status “at
the time he files suit that determines whether
§1997e(a)'s exhaustion provision applies”);
see also Cox v. Mayer, 332 F.3d 422, 428 (6th Cir.
2003) (stating in dicta that a plaintiff who had not properly
exhausted any of his claims before filing suit could not
magically “cure” that defect by filing an amended
complaint under Rule 15(d)).
initially filed their federal court complaint in this case on
March 14, 2017, so that any Plaintiff incarcerated at this
time (even if released shortly thereafter) must
administratively exhaust under the PRLA.
Fe County Adult Detention Center had in place a grievance
procedure (“Policy”) with three basic steps: (1)
the inmate must submit an informal complaint within five (5)
days of the incident giving rise to the complaint; (2) if the
informal complaint is not resolved, the inmate files a
Notification of Grievance Form; and (3) if the inmate is not
satisfied with the disposition of the grievance, the inmate
must submit an appeal with the Warden Inspector.
motion is relevant to the following Plaintiffs: Armendariz,
Coleman, Gomez, Lovato, Manzanares, Trujillo and Vigil.
Defendants contend that these Plaintiffs each failed to
follow the detention center's grievance process.
Plaintiffs offer the following facts pertinent to exhaustion
for these Plaintiffs as follows:
• Armendariz: submitted formal and informal grievances
and written complaints of illness;
• Coleman: “recollected” that he wrote
grievances at the time of the shower renovation project as
well as a written ...