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PARTEE v. LANE

December 8, 1981

ELLIS PARTEE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL LANE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Ellis Partee, a prisoner at the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as defendants are: Michael Lane, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections; John Groves, Chief Record Officer for the Department of Corrections; Michael Krolikiewicz, Record Office Supervisor at Stateville; Richard DeRobertis, Warden of Stateville; William Kauffman, Executive Director of the Prisoner Review Board; James Irving, Chairman of the Prisoner Review Board; James Thompson, Governor of Illinois; Robert Cattaneo, a certified medical technician at Stateville; Mick Ward,*fn1 Hospital Administrator at Stateville; and Marie Hall, Medical Services Administrator for the Department of Corrections.

In the first of Partee's three allegations, he complains that the defendants Groves and Krolikiewicz failed to correct promptly his prison records as to the amount of good time that he has earned, despite a decree of the Circuit Court of Will County ordering them to do so. He also alleges that the defendants' recalculation of his good time credits is incorrect in that they have not accorded him all of the good time to which he is entitled. He seeks an order compelling the Department of Corrections to recalculate further his good time credits. He also seeks damages for the depression and anxiety which he alleges the defendants' failure to recalculate promptly and fully his good time credits caused him. Partee has named DeRobertis, Lane, Irving, Kauffman, and Thompson as additional defendants to this complaint based upon their failure to answer his letters to them in which he explained his dissatisfaction with Groves and Krolikiewicz's recalculation of his good time credits.

Partee's second allegation is that the defendant Cattaneo denied him access to medical treatment for depression and for an injury to his nose. He also complains that Cattaneo and Ward unlawfully revoked a prison doctor's order that Partee either have his own cell or a compatible cellmate. Partee also alleges that the defendants Hall, DeRobertis, and Lane failed to respond to his letters to them in which he complained of the alleged denial of medical treatment and the refusal to give him a single cell or a different cellmate.

Finally, Partee claims that the Prisoner Review Board was arbitrary and capricious in denying him parole because they gave only "boilerplate reasons" for their decision. He also claims that the Board denied him parole in retaliation for other litigation that he had initiated against the defendant Irving.

The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. They have attached various affidavits and documents to their motion, and, where it is necessary for us to consider these materials, we will treat their motion as one for summary judgment. For the reasons hereinafter stated, we grant their motion.

I.

On April 10, 1974, Partee received an eight to fifteen year sentence for armed robbery. From August 26, 1973, until the date of his conviction — a total of 288 days — he was confined in the Will County Jail. In 1980, Partee filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Circuit Court of Will County, seeking credit for time served in the county jail. He also sought recalculation of his statutory and compensatory good time credits pursuant to statutory changes regarding the calculation of good time.*fn2 On the basis of two decisions of the Illinois courts, Johnson v. Franzen, 77 Ill.2d 513, 34 Ill.Dec. 153, 397 N.E.2d 825 (1979), and Hampton v. Rowe, 88 Ill. App.3d 352, 43 Ill.Dec. 511, 410 N.E.2d 511 (1980), holding that the new good time statute is, in part, applicable to prisoners who began serving their sentences before the effective date of the new statute,*fn3 Judge Haase of the Circuit Court of Will County ordered the Department of Corrections to recalculate Partee's good time credits, but stayed his order pending the Department's appeal of his decision and its appeal of Hampton to the Illinois Supreme Court.

On April 3, 1981, Judge Haase removed his stay of this order. On April 5, Partee filed a separate habeas corpus action in the Circuit Court of Will County, seeking the same relief sought in the earlier mandamus action. Later, on May 29, Partee filed this section 1983 complaint in federal court, seeking further recalculation of his good time credits, damages for the depression and anxiety which allegedly resulted from the delay and inaccuracy in the recalculation, and raising other claims. At some time during this period, the Department recalculated Partee's good time credits, and advised Judge Haase of its method of calculation. Apparently, satisfied that the Department's recalculation of Partee's good time credits complied with his mandamus order, Judge Haase dismissed Partee's state habeas corpus petition on June 18, 1981. Partee's appeal of that dismissal is pending before the Illinois Appellate Court.

Partee's section 1983 claim that the defendants failed to recalculate promptly and accurately his good time credits, and that he is therefore entitled to injunctive relief and monetary damages,*fn4 is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Restoration of good time credits of which a prisoner has been deprived in a disciplinary proceeding cannot be sought through section 1983. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973). Although Partee seeks recalculation of good time credits which he claims he rightfully possesses, and not the restoration of good time credits taken from him, such a distinction is based on too narrow a reading of Rodriguez. Partee's request that we order the defendants to recalculate once again his good time credits is essentially a challenge to the duration of his confinement, and may be raised only through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus once available state remedies have been exhausted. Preiser v. Rodriguez, supra; Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974).

A claim which seeks monetary damages for an unlawful deprivation of good time credits may, however, proceed under section 1983 while actual restoration (or recalculation) of good time credits is sought in state proceedings. McDonnell, 418 U.S. at 554-55, 94 S.Ct. at 2973-2974. As indicated, Partee's complaint can be read as one which seeks money damages for "the depression and anxiety" suffered as a result of the defendants' alleged failure to recalculate promptly and accurately his good time credits. Nonetheless, the extension of judicial immunity to those officials who act pursuant to a court order precludes Partee's recovery of money damages on this allegation and requires its dismissal. A judge is absolutely immune from liability in damages for actions taken within his judicial capacity. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 98 S.Ct. 1099, 55 L.Ed.2d 331 (1978). Public officials who act pursuant to facially valid court orders are accorded the immunity possessed by the judge who entered the order. Lockhart v. Hoenstine, 411 F.2d 455 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 941, 90 S.Ct. 378, 24 L.Ed.2d 244 (1969); Holmes v. Silver Cross Hospital, 340 F. Supp. 125, 131 (N.D.Ill. 1972); see United States ex rel. Bailey v. Askew, 486 F.2d 134 (5th Cir. 1973). The defendants recalculated Partee's sentence pursuant to an order of a state court judge. Even if we assume that their recalculation was knowingly erroneous, done in a dilatory manner, and the proximate cause of Partee's depression and anxiety, they are entitled to quasi-judicial immunity for their conduct. We therefore dismiss his complaint as to the defendants Groves and Krolikiewicz.

Nor does Partee's allegation — that he is entitled to damages based on the allegedly erroneous and dilatory recalculation of his good time credits — survive as against the defendants DeRobertis, Irving, Lane, Kauffman, and Thompson merely because they did not respond to Partee's letters which informed them of his complaints against Groves and Krolikiewicz. Our dismissal of the underlying action eliminates any basis for liability on their part. Moreover, while Partee's complaint alleges more than a theory of respondeat superior, the mere allegation that various state officials have failed to respond to an inmate's letters does not state a claim under section 1983. See West v. Rowe, 448 F. Supp. 58, 60 (N.D.Ill. 1978).

We therefore dismiss that part of Partee's complaint which is based on the order of the Circuit Court of Will County to the Department of Corrections that Partee's good time credits be recalculated in light of Johnson v. Franzen, supra, and Hampton v. Rowe, supra. Assuming some basis in fact exists to Partee's complaint, his only remedy is injunctive relief pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus, a remedy which may be sought here only after his state remedies have been exhausted.

II.

Partee next alleges that the defendant Cattaneo, a certified medical technician at Stateville, denied him access to medical treatment for two separate conditions. Specifically, Partee claims that he informed Cattaneo of his depression and anxiety, and that Cattaneo denied him access to the prison's psychologist. Partee also claims that Cattaneo denied him access to follow-up treatment for an injury incurred when Partee dropped a 130-pound weight, or barbell, on his nose. Partee admits that he received an X-ray examination (which indicated no fracture) and a five-day supply of pain pills immediately after he injured himself. He claims, however, that after he ran out of pills, he informed Cattaneo that his nose remained sore when touched, and that he had headaches, but that Cattaneo refused to schedule him for any kind of re-examination.

Partee also claims that the defendant Ward, the former Hospital Administrator at Stateville, denied him access to his cell-house's scheduled "sick call." He also charges that Cattaneo and Ward unlawfully revoked an order of a prison doctor that Partee receive either a compatible cellmate or his own cell. Partee also alleges that the defendants Hall, DeRobertis and Lane are responsible for the alleged denial of access to medical care on the theory that they failed to respond to his letters to them informing them of the complaints he raises here.

A claim that alleges "deliberate indifference" to a prisoner's serious injury constitutes "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" proscribed by the Eighth Amendment, and states a cause of action under section 1983. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05, 97 S.Ct. 285, 291-292, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). "Deliberate indifference" to serious medical needs of a prisoner can take the form of denial of necessary medical treatment itself, denial of access to necessary medical treatment, or intentional and unreasonable delay in access to such treatment. Id. That a medical need is "serious," for the purpose of a section 1983 action, can be established either by showing that a physician has diagnosed it as mandating treatment or by demonstrating that the condition was so obvious that even a lay person would recognize the necessity of a doctor's attention. Laaman v. Helgemoe, 437 F. Supp. 269 (D.N.H. 1977).

Even when reading Partee's complaint liberally in accordance with the standard of Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972), it is very doubtful that his allegation that Cattaneo denied him access to a further examination of his nose states a claim upon which relief can be granted. However, the defendants' submission of materials outside the pleadings, in regard to this allegation and others that Partee makes, requires us to treat this motion as one for summary judgment.

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that he is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P.; Mintz v. Mathers Fund, Inc., 463 F.2d 495 (7th Cir. 1972). Furthermore, we must view all the facts, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962). As indicated, Partee admits that he received prompt and reasonable treatment of his injured nose; his medical records confirm this admission. Cattaneo states, in his affidavit, that he examined Partee's nose (apparently upon ...


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