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Ratliff v. Baun

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

May 7, 2018

JAMES RATLIFF PLAINTIFF
v.
JO ANN DE BAUN, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff James Ratliff's Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate. [R. 98.] Defendant Jo Ann De Baun responded. [R. 99.] Defendants Donnie Hall, Jr., Mandy Graves, and Ballard County, Kentucky (“County Defendants”) also responded. [R. 100.] This matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff Ratliff's Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate, [R. 98], is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The general facts and procedural history of this case are set out in the Court's prior Memorandum Opinion, [R. 96]. In short, Ratliff's claims against the defendants arise out of an incident in which Deputy Jailer JoAnn De Baun used a stun gun on Ratliff while he was incarcerated at Ballard County Jail. [R. 35-2 at 4, 10:9-11 (Ratliff Depo.); see also R. 96 at 2.] On September 29, 2017, the Court granted De Baun's Motion for Summary Judgment, [R. 35], and granted the Motion for Summary Judgment by County Defendants, [R. 40]. On October 27, 2017, Ratliff filed a Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate the Court's Order of September 29, 2017, [R. 98], which is currently before the Court.

         STANDARD

         “A court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend if there is: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing GenCorp, Inc. v. Am. Int'l Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir. 1999).

         “A motion under Rule 59(e) is not intended to be utilized to relitigate issues previously considered.” Foreman v. United States, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187012 *3 (W.D. Mich. 2012) (citing Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Argent Indus., Inc., 746 F.Supp. 705, 706 (S.D. Ohio 1989)). “Neither should it be used as a vehicle for submitting evidence which in the exercise of reasonable diligence could have been submitted before.” Id. (citing Weyerhaeuser Corp. v. Koppers Co., 771 F.Supp. 1406, 1419 (D. Md. 1991)).

         “The grant or denial of a Rule 59(e) motion is within the informed discretion of the district court, reversible only for abuse.” Huff v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 675 F.2d 119, 122 (6th Cir. 1982).

         DISCUSSION

         Ratliff moves to alter, amend, or vacate the Court's order entered on September 29, 2017, [R. 98], on three different grounds. First, Ratliff argues that exhaustion of administrative remedies was not necessary because “the grievance process was effectively rendered unavailable to him.” [R. 98-1 at 4.] Second, Ratliff asserts that Defendants “should be estopped from asserting the defense of failure to exhaust administrative remedies.” [Id. at 6.] Third, Ratliff argues that “the Court made factual determinations that should have been made by a jury.” [Id.] The Court will address each in turn.

         As an initial matter, the Court notes that, despite the requirements of Rule 59(e), Ratliff does not once contend that there is a clear error of law, newly discovered evidence, an intervening change in controlling law, or that his Motion must be granted to prevent manifest injustice.

         I. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         The PLRA states: “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.” Prisoner Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (2013). This statute requires a prisoner to exhaust all available administrative remedies before filing any action “with respect to prison conditions” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or any other federal law. Id. In order to bring a sharp rise of prisoner litigation in the federal courts under control, Congress fortified the PLRA with provisions like a mandatory requirement of exhaustion, § 1997e(a), and a required showing of physical injury, § 1997e(e). See Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 84 (2006).

         As the Court explained in its Memorandum Opinion, the United States Supreme Court described a textual exception to mandatory exhaustion that hinges on the “availab[ility]” of administrative remedies in the case of Ross v. Blake. See Ross, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1858 (2016) (citing ยง 1997e(a)). The Supreme Court described three ...


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