Stratton v. Buck

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-19-2012
  • Case #: 10-35656
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Kobayashi for the Court; Circuit Judges Silverman and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

Pro se prisoner plaintiffs have a substantial right to notice on a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies when the district court is considering matters outside the pleadings; a plaintiff is entitled to notice similar to that required by Rand on motions for summary judgment.

Plaintiff Stratton was assaulted by a fellow inmate at a correctional institution in Washington. Defendant Brown was a doctor at Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Stratton alleged that Brown failed to provide adequate care under the Eighth Amendment. Brown filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Stratton had not exhausted his administrative remedies as required by the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). The district court granted the motion; plaintiff appealed arguing that, because matters outside the pleadings were considered, he was entitled to the same notice required under Rand v. Rowland on a motion for summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit held that “when a district court will consider materials beyond the pleadings in ruling upon a defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, the pro se prisoner plaintiff must receive a notice, similar to the notice described in Rand.” The Court found that Stratton had received no such notice, and since he did not attach any supporting documents to his response to the motion, he had not waived notice. Since a pro se prisoner plaintiff has a substantial right to notice explaining the process associated with a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, the error was not harmless. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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