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Burnett v. Hackman

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

January 23, 2018

L.D. BURNETT, Plaintiff,
DR. HACKMAN et al., Defendants.


          David J. Hale, United States District Court Judge

         This is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action brought by a pro se prisoner. This matter is now before the Court on Defendants' joint motion to dismiss pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (DN 25). Plaintiff did not file a response, but the Court concludes that it can rule on the motion without the benefit of a response. For the reasons stated below, the motion will be denied.


         Plaintiff originally filed the instant complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. That court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC) and the Kentucky Department of Corrections; severed the claims against Defendants Dr. Hackman and Dr. Amy Truette, whom Plaintiff identified as psychiatrists at KCPC; and transferred the claims against those Defendants to this Court finding that proper venue lies here.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was housed in KCPC for a mental evaluation ordered by the Boyd Circuit Court. He states the following:

While at K.C.P.C. the treatment team including psychiatrist took me off my mental medication after only being their a short time. After being took off this medication I started hullicinating both audibily and visully those hullicinations were causing suicidal behavior caused me to hear voices and becom verry depressed. And to try to comitt suacide I cut my wrist this attempt on my life happened at Boyd County Jail.
And I was transported to King's Daughter's Medical Center in Ashland, KY. I was kept on suicide watch multiple times and multiple week's at a time untill mont's later I was put back on my psych meds that K.C.P.C. took me off of. Another doctor put me back on them at B.C.D.C. If it were not for being took of my meds by the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center staff these attempt on my life would not been attempted nor the mental grief would not have occurred. They said I was showing no symptoms of being sick but I was medicated at the time.

         Upon initial review of the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007), which applies the same standard governing this Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court allowed Plaintiff's individual-capacity claims against Defendants Hackman and Truett to proceed for further development.

         II. ANALYSIS

         To survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” yet must provide “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In addition, “[a] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         A. Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) bars a civil rights action challenging prison conditions until the prisoner exhausts “such administrative remedies as are available.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see also Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007) (“There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.”). Failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense, and the burden is on the defendant to prove non-exhaustion. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. at 216. The Sixth Circuit generally has held that exhaustion is best raised in a motion for summary judgment. See, e.g., Rembisz v. Lew, 590 F. App'x 501, 504 (6th Cir. 2014); LaFountain v. Martin, 334 F. App'x 738, 740 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The rare exception occurs where the plaintiff includes allegations in the complaint that permit adjudication of an exhaustion defense on a motion to dismiss. See Rembisz v. Lew, 590 F. App'x at 504 (acknowledging that the exhaustion defense may be “susceptible to resolution on a motion to dismiss if a plaintiff affirmatively pleads himself out of court”) (citing Jones, 549 U.S. at 215)).

         Defendants argue that the action should be dismissed because Plaintiff concedes in the complaint that he failed to exhaust all administrative remedies available to him before filing suit. Defendants maintain that Plaintiff “admits that he failed to file a grievance under Bureau of Prisons regulations.” Plaintiff filed the complaint on a complaint form. A section of the form deals with the exhaustion of administrative remedies and contains separate subsections for federal, state, and county or city prisoners. In the section pertaining to federal prisoners, the form asks, “Did you file a grievance regarding the facts in this Complaint under Bureau of Prisons regulations?” Plaintiff checked “No.” In the same section, the form asks, “What was the result?” Plaintiff answered, “I filed request forms sevrail could not get a grievance form.” The form next asks, “If you did not file a grievance, why not?” Plaintiff responded, “Could not get a grievance form.”

         In the section pertaining to state prisoners, Plaintiff left the questions blank. In the section pertaining to county or city prisoners, the form asks the plaintiff to attach a copy of the jail's grievance policy. To that Plaintiff responded, “But they would not honner their grievance system.” Where the form asks, “Did you file a grievance regarding these facts?” Plaintiff wrote, “No.” The form also asks, “What steps did you take to use the grievance process?” Plaintiff answered, “Ask for grievance was denied.” In ...

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