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.

Coleman v. Santa FE County Board of Commissioners

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

February 20, 2019

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,
v.
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

         THIS 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.

         BACKGROUND

         This 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 claims:

(1) Deprivation of Civil Rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against County Defendants;
(2) Supervisory Liability under §1983 against County Defendants;
(3) Claims under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, NMSA 1978, ¶41-4-7 and §41- 4-12 against County Defendants; and
(4) Claims against Defendant ICC under New Mexico Common Law.

         Doc. 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 Detention Facility.

         I. Relevant Law

         The 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).

         A 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. 2010).

         Defendants 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)).

         Plaintiffs 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.

         II. Facts[1]

         Santa 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.

         Defendants' 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 ...

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.