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Edwards v. CBM Managed Services

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 11, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant CBM Managed Services' (“CBM”) Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 16). Plaintiff Rishard L.A. Edwards (“Edwards”) has not filed a response to the motion to dismiss even though the Court directed Edwards to show cause why CBM's motion should not be granted. (ECF No. 21) Accordingly, the issues are fully briefed. All matters are pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         I. Factual Background

         On November 27, 2017, Edwards commenced this action by filing a pro se Complaint and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Edwards, a pretrial detainee confined to the St. Louis City Justice Center (“Justice Center”), filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, alleging violations of his civil rights. (ECF No. 1, Complaint) In particular, Edwards alleges that CBM (a/k/a Catering by Marlin's, Inc.), the food service provider that is contracted to provide three meals per day to the inmates at the Justice Center, has a policy and a practice of failing to provide adequate nutrition by depriving the inmates of fruit in their daily meals.[1] Edwards sues CBM in its official capacity.[2]

         Edwards acknowledged that there is a prisoner grievance procedure at the Justice Center, and he “presented this grievance system the facts which are at issue in this complaint.” (Id. at 2) In explaining what steps he took, Edwards noted that “I've asked for multiple grievance forms and they have failed to give me one.” (Id. at 3)

         Edwards filed three putative Informal Resolution Requests (“IRR”). (ECF No. 1, City of St. Louis Department of Public Safety Division of Corrections at 1-3) On October 17, 2017, Edwards completed a putative IRR, questioning why the inmates are not served fruit. (Id. at 1) Edwards indicated that he needed “to file a grievance on CBM because fruit should be part of breakfast, lunch or dinner.” (Id.) Edwards noted that “My copies look like original because they wont [sic] give us carbon copies so we have to make our own” handwritten on the IRR. (Id.) Edwards also filed putative IRRs on July 30 and August 5, 2017. (Id. at 2-3) All three putative IRRs have “My Records” handwritten across the top with the notation of “Staff Never Responded” on the signature line for “CSU Staff.” (Id. at 1-3)

         CBM moved to dismiss on February 7, 2018. (ECF No. 16) Edwards failed to file his response by the required time. On February 28, 2018, the Court ordered Edwards to show cause why CBM's motion to dismiss should not be granted no later than March 23, 2018. (ECF No. 21) As of this date, Edwards has not responded to this Order or filed any response to CBM's motion to dismiss.

         II. Legal Standard

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, “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 Atlantic Corp. V. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The requirement of facial plausibility is satisfied “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A claim for relief “must include sufficient factual information to provide the ‘grounds' on which the claim rests, and to raise a right to relief above a speculative level.” Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3). This obligation requires a plaintiff to plead “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         On a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, even if it appears that “actual proof of those facts is improbable, ” and reviews the complaint to determine whether its allegations show that the pleader is entitled to relief. Id. at 555-56; Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 8(a)(2). The principle that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint do not apply to legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 678.

         III. Discussion

         CBM argues that Edwards failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and that his claims are therefore barred by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”).[3] Under the PLRA, “[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); Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002) (holding that exhaustion is mandatory).

         Failure to exhaust remedies under PLRA is an affirmative defense. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007). As such, the defendant bears the burden of proving that the prisoner-plaintiff failed to exhaust all available remedies. Foulk v. Charrier, 262 F.3d 687, 697 (8th Cir. 2001).

         Prisoners are excused from exhausting administrative remedies “when officials have prevented prisoners from utilizing the procedures, or when officials themselves have failed to comply with the grievance procedures.” Gibson v. Weber, 431 F.3d 339, 341 (8th Cir. 2005). This is because “a remedy that prison officials prevent a prisoner form ‘utiliz[ing]' is not an ‘available' remedy under § 1997e(a).” Miller v. Norris, 247 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001); see also ...

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