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Moore v. United States Agriculture Department

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

January 5, 2015

JAFARI T. MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

Jafari T. Moore is a federal inmate currently confined in the United States Penitentiary located in Manchester, Kentucky. Moore was formerly confined in the Unites States Penitentiary-McCreary ("USP-McCreary") located in Pine Knot, Kentucky. Proceeding pro se, Moore has filed a complaint, and an amended complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and the doctrine announced in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), against various defendants[1]. Moore asserts claims of negligence and deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs relative to an alleged injury to two fingers on his left hand on April 21, 2013. Among other relief, Moore seeks injunctive relief and damages of $1, 000, 000.00. [R. 1; R. 2] By prior Order, the Court granted Moore's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. [R. 12]

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Moore claims that on April 21, 2013, two fingers on his left hand (his ring finger and adjacent little finger) were injured from being caught in the cell door. Moore claims that as the result of this incident, these two fingers were broken. [R. 1, Page ID# 1] Moore states that he was escorted to the medical department and screened by EMT C. Griffis.[2] [R. 2, Page ID# 7] After the initial treatment for this injury, Moore says that he was placed in the Special Housing Unit for approximately two weeks and that during that time, he repeatedly requested, but did not receive, additional medical treatment for this injury. Moore alleges that due to the lack of treatment, his "left hand has healed in a deformity and causes chronic pain." [R. 1, Page ID# 1]

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Court must conduct a preliminary review of Moore's complaint because he has been granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis and because he asserts claims against government officials. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. A district court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997). The Court evaluates Moore's complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true, and his legal claims are liberally construed in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). The Court has given his complaint a liberal, and hence broad, construction, and will evaluate any cause of action which can reasonably be inferred from the allegations made.

For the reasons stated below, Defendants Department of Agriculture and Department of Justice will be dismissed from this action. Moore's claims against Defendants J.C. Holland, Warden; Brian Maruka, Captain; B. Barron, Business Administrator; and Mr. Stevens, Health Services Administrator, both individually and in their official capacities, will also be dismissed. Moore's claims against Defendant former EMT C. Griffis in his or her official capacity will be dismissed, although it appears that Moore is entitled to proceed with his claim against EMT C. Griffis in his or her individual capacity.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), Congress amended 42 U.S.C. § 1997e to make exhaustion of administrative remedies mandatory for prisoners. The statute provides that:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under 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.

Therefore, a prisoner-plaintiff must first exhaust "such administrative remedies as are available" prior to bringing a prison conditions action in a District Court. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). This provision requires prisoners to exhaust all administrative remedies prior to filing a lawsuit regarding prison life, regardless of the relief offered through the administrative procedures. Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). This 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." Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 525 (2002).

Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that the PLRA requires proper exhaustion of the administrative remedy process, as "[p]roper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules..." Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006). The Supreme Court stressed that the benefits of exhaustion "can be realized only if the prison grievance system is given a fair opportunity to consider the grievance. The prison grievance system will not have such an opportunity unless the grievant complies with the system's critical procedural rules." Id. at 95.

Although Moore's complaint and amended complaint are unaccompanied by documents confirming that he exhausted his administrative remedies prior to filing this action, he states in his amended complaint that he has exhausted his administrative remedies. [R. 2, Page ID# 7] ...


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