United States District Court, D. Colorado
RAYMOND P. MOORE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on “Plaintiff's
Objections to Magistrate Judge's Order (Doc. 102) Denying
Plaintiff's Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d) Motion (Doc. 90)”
(the “Objection”) (ECF No. 109), seeking an order
setting aside or rejecting the Magistrate Judge's Order
(the “Order”) denying Plaintiff's request to
conduct discovery he contends he needs in order to respond to
Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (the
“Motion”) (ECF No. 80). Upon consideration of the
Objection, Defendants' Response (ECF No. 111), relevant
parts of the court record, and the applicable law and rules,
and being otherwise fully advised, Plaintiff's Objection
is OVERRULED in part and SUSTAINED in part.
issue is whether Defendants' Motion based on
Plaintiff's alleged failure to exhaust administrative
remedies should be denied as premature or, in the
alternative, deferreduntil Plaintiff has had an opportunity to
conduct discovery. Having found that the discovery Plaintiff
sought is neither relevant nor necessary to resolving the
Motion, the Magistrate Judge denied Plaintiff's Rule
56(d) motion. The Magistrate Judge based her order on the
finding that exhaustion is an objective standard, to be
determined based on the face of the grievance; and that as
Plaintiff has been provided with all the administrative
remedy requests and responses, he has all the information he
needs to defend Defendants' Motion. Plaintiff argues
otherwise, filing the Objection now at issue.
Review of Magistrate Judge's Order
begin, the parties dispute whether the Order is dispositive
or nondispositive. The difference matters as the standard of
review differs. Compare Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a) (the
district judge considers timely objections and modifies or
sets aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or
is contrary to law) withFed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)
(“The district judge must determine de novo any part of
the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly
objected to.”). In this case, however, the Court finds
that it need not resolve the issue as, under either standard,
Plaintiff's Objection cannot be sustained as to his
request to conduct discovery.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d) Motion
relief is warranted under Rule 56(d),  “a party
must specifically identify what facts it seeks to discover
and show how those facts would materially aid its case on the
dispositive issues.” Chavez v. Perry, 142
Fed.Appx. 325, 334 (10th Cir. 2005) (citing Jensen v.
Redevelopment Agency, 998 F.2d 1550, 1554-55 (10th Cir.
1993)). “No relief under Rule 56(f) is warranted when
the information sought is either irrelevant to the summary
judgment motion or merely cumulative.” Id.
(citation and quotation marks omitted). Instead, the
information must be “‘essential to his
opposition.'” Committee for First Amend. v.
Campbell, 962 F.2d 1517, 1521 (10th Cir. 1992) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250
n.5 (1986)). “Unless…lacking in merit, the
motion should be liberally treated.” Id. at
1522 (citation and quotation marks omitted).
raises two objections. The Court addresses each in turn.
Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Substantive
Magistrate Judge found that exhaustion is an objective
inquiry, to be judge on the face of the grievance itself.
Plaintiff objects to this finding, arguing that the
subjective understanding of or actions by individual
officials are relevant to whether Defendants have “fair
notice” of Plaintiff's complaints or a “fair
opportunity” to resolve his complaints. Defendants
argue the court's review is to focus objectively on
Plaintiff's own remedy requests, not on the subjective
interpretation of those requests by individual officials.
Further, Defendants contend, even if the Bureau of
Prison's subjective understanding of the request
mattered, that understanding is presented in the first
paragraph of each remedy request response. The Court agrees,
in part, with Defendants.
exhaustion allows prison officials an opportunity to resolve
disputes concerning the exercise of their responsibilities
before being haled into court.” Jones v.
Brock, 549 U.S. 199, 204 (2007) (emphasis added). In