United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
May 5, 2004.
ALPACINO LEWIS, Plaintiff
COOK COUNTY CORRECTIONS OFFICERS BUTLER, D. BOOKER, LT. BYRNE, SGT. JARDINE, and the COUNTY OF COOK, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN GRADY, Senior District Judge
Before the court is defendants Frank Butler and David Booker's motion
to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted.
On July 11, 2003, plaintiff Alpacino Lewis filed this § 1983 excessive
force action against four Cook County corrections officers and Cook
County. Lewis alleges that on July 13, 2001, while he was in the custody
of the Cook County Jail, defendants denied his request for medicine and
then beat him. Officers Booker and Butler move to dismiss this action on
two grounds: (1) res judicata; and (2) failure to exhaust administrative
A. Res Judicata
Defendants contend that this action is barred by the doctrine of res
judicata because of a prior action brought by plaintiff, Lewis v. cook County Corrections Officers, 01 C 6318, which was dismissed
for want of prosecution by our colleague Judge Gottschall.*fn1 The
factual allegations of the case before Judge Gottschall are virtually
identical to those of the instant case, and plaintiff does not deny that
the two actions are based on the same alleged incident.*fn2
Res judicata, also known as claim preclusion, extends to all grounds
for recovery that might have been presented in prior litigation if based
on the same set of operative facts. See Licari v. City of Chicago,
298 F.3d 664, 667 (7th Cir. 2002). To apply the doctrine, three elements
must be present: (1) a judgment on the merits in an earlier suit; (2)
identity of the parties or their privies in both suits; and (3) identity
of the causes of action in both suits. See Central State, Southeast and
Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Hunt Truck Lines, Inc., 296 F.3d 624, 628
(7th Cir. 2002). This suit meets all three requirements of res judicata.
Plaintiff does not contend otherwise, but argues that res judicata does
not bar the instant action because the caption of this "refiled" suit
supplies the names of the corrections officers allegedly involved,
whereas the previous suit identified them as John Does. We are unpersuaded, especially considering that plaintiff
cites no case law in support of his undeveloped argument. Tellingly,
plaintiff acknowledges that the current defendants are the same
unidentified officers from the previous suit, and even refers to the
instant case as the "refiled" previous suit. Accordingly, res judicata
bars plaintiff's claim in this action.
B. Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies
An alternative ground for dismissal is plaintiff's failure to allege
that he exhausted all available administrative remedies. The Prison
Litigation Reform Act (the "PLRA") provides that "[n]o action shall be
brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. §] 1983
. . . 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). "[T]he PLRA's
exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life,
whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and
whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong." Porter v.
Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002).
Plaintiff argues that "it can be assumed that the governing authorities
did not respond to his concerns." (Response at 4.) That would be an
improper assumption, though, when the complaint does not allege that
plaintiff completed, or even initiated, the grievance procedures afforded
to prisoners at the Cook County Jail. Moreover, having "concerns" does not equate with having filed a
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint
is granted, and plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice.