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Gates v. Benefis of Great Falls

United States District Court, District of Montana, Great Falls Division

August 26, 2014

THOMAS GATES, Plaintiff,
v.
BENEFIS OF GREAT FALLS, CROSSROADS CORRECTION CENTER, MARIAS MEDICAL CENTER, and MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

KEITH STRONG UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

SYNOPSIS

Mr. Gates alleges Defendants failed to provide him with adequate medical care and were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs while he was incarcerated in Crossroads Correctional Center. (Complaint, Doc. 9). Defendant Crossroads and Defendant Marias Medical Center filed separate motions to dismiss the Complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (Doc. 5, 13). These motions are construed as motions for summary judgment. See Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162 (9th Cir. 2014). Defendants Benefis of Great Falls and the Montana Department of Corrections have not been served. (Notice of Removal, Doc. 1 at 4, ¶¶ 5, 6.)

Crossroads’ motion should be granted, as Mr. Gates did not exhaust administrative remedies. Marias Medical Center’s motion should be granted as to Mr. Gates’ state law negligence/medical malpractice claims because Mr. Gates did not present those claims to the Montana Medical Legal Panel.

JURISDICTION

Mr. Gates initiated this lawsuit by filing a complaint in Montana’s Ninth Judicial District. (Doc. 1-2.) Defendants removed the case to federal court. (Doc. 1.) Subject matter jurisdiction exists because Mr. Gates alleges violations of federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The case is properly venued in the Great Falls Division, which includes all the counties in Montana’s Ninth Judicial District. Local Rule 1.2(c)(3). The case is assigned to United States District Judge Brian M. Morris and referred to the undersigned to conduct necessary hearings and submit proposed findings of fact and recommendations on dispositive motions.

STATUS

Mr. Gates signed and dated his Complaint on August 8, 2013. (Doc. 9.) It was filed in Montana Ninth Judicial District Court on September 25, 2013. (State Court Docket, Doc. 8 at 1.) Mr. Gates was released from prison on September 29, 2013. (Doc. 7-3 at 2.) The case was removed to federal court by Defendant Crossroads Correctional Center on February 13, 2014. (Doc. 1.) On February 20, 2014, Defendant Crossroads filed a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies at the prison. (Doc. 5.) On February 27, 2014, Defendant Marias Medical Center filed a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust state administrative remedies. (Doc. 13.) On April 8, 2014, the Court construed both motions as motions for summary judgment and gave Defendants an opportunity to submit supplemental briefing. See Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162 (9th Cir. 2014). Mr. Gates was directed to file a notice with Court indicating whether he wanted to proceed with the case. (Doc. 17.) On April 28, 2014, Mr. Gates filed a notice of intent to pursue the case and attached nine grievances presumably in an attempt to respond to the motions. (Doc. 18.) Defendants submitted supplemental briefing on April 30, 2014 and May 8, 2014 and provided the appropriate notice to Mr. Gates as required by Local Rules 12.3 and 56.2 and Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 1998). (Doc. 20, 24.) The motions are now considered fully briefed.

STANDARDS

Motions for Summary Judgment

The court shall grant summary judgment if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). If the moving party makes a prima facie showing that summary judgment is appropriate, the burden shifts to the opposing party to show the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. On summary judgment, all inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Id. at 159. Filings by pro se litigants are entitled to special deference, and are not held to the standards of attorneys. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987).

A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The materiality determination rests on substantive law. Id. A dispute about a material fact is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

Prison Litigation Reform Act Exhaustion

The Prison Litigation Reform Act’s exhaustion requirement states:

[n]o 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); see also Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). This means a prisoner must “complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including deadlines, as a precondition to bringing suit in federal court.” Wood ...


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