United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
August 8, 2005.
JOHN TEAGUE, Plaintiff,
E. MAYO, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PHILIP FRAZIER, Magistrate Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Before the Court are defendants' motions to dismiss and for
summary judgment (Doc. Nos. 33, 34). Plaintiff filed this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the
constitutionality of the conditions of his confinement at Menard
Correctional Center. In his Amended Complaint, he claims that
defendants Mayo, Taylor, and Cowen inflicted excessive force,
deprived him of medical attention in segregation, made threats
against his life, and failed to promulgate and enforce rules and
policies to protect him from harm in violation of his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
(Count I). He also claims that these defendants failed to provide
access to basic procedures for resolving grievances in violation
of rights guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment (Count II).
Defendants Mayo and Taylor seek dismissal and/or judgment in
their favor on Count II and some aspects of Count I. They argue
that some of the allegations fail to describe a constitutional
deprivation or seek relief barred by sovereign immunity, the
applicable statute of limitations, or qualified immunity. They
also argue that some aspects of plaintiff's claims were filed
before plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies. The
motions are opposed.
As a threshold matter, the Court notes that the defendants
submitted evidence with their reply (Doc. No. 46). Because sur-replies are not allowed, plaintiff did
not receive an opportunity to respond to this evidence; it has
not been considered.
Motion to Dismiss
A claim will be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) if "it is clear
that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could
be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King &
Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (citing Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41 (1957). For purposes of this motion, the Court assumes the
truth of plaintiff's allegations and makes all possible
inferences in his favor.
Failure to State a § 1983 Claim. With respect to Count I, a
successful § 1983 claim based on a violation of the Eighth
Amendment requires (1) harm that is objectively, sufficiently
serious and (2) allegations that the individual defendants were
deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's health and safety.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). Plaintiff has
described four acts and omissions in support of his Eighth
Amendment Claim. If some of those acts or omissions stood alone,
they would not describe cruel and unusual punishment. The
allegations do not stand alone; rather, they are linked to other
allegations that support an Eighth Amendment claim. Specifically,
plaintiff alleges facts suggesting that these defendants were
personally involved in the malicious or sadistic infliction of
excessive force. Hudson v. McMillian, 501 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992).
Because at least some of plaintiff's allegations support an
Eighth Amendment claim, Count I states a claim for relief and
should not be dismissed.
With respect to Count II, any "right" plaintiff has to a
grievance process is a state-created procedural right only, not a
substantive right. Hence, the Illinois prison grievance procedure
does not create a protected liberty interest requiring the
procedural safeguards of the Fourteenth Amendment. Antonelli v.
Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1996); Quinlan v.
Fairman, 663 F.Supp. 24, 27 (N.D. Ill. 1987). Count II should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim for relief.
Sovereign Immunity. Defendants argue that some of the
omissions described in Count I must be construed as a suit
against them in their official capacities and dismissed as barred
by the Eleventh Amendment. Because the Amended Complaint clearly
states that these defendants are sued in their individual and
official capacities, the proposed construction is unnecessary.
Official capacity claims against state employees make the State
of Illinois an interested party. Because the State of Illinois is
not a "person" subject to a damages action under § 1983, the
official capacity damage claims present a statutory deficiency.
Plaintiff's damage claims against the defendants in their
official capacities should be dismissed on this basis, mooting
the Eleventh Amendment argument. Power v. Summers,
226 F.3d 815, 818 (7th Cir. 2000).
Statute of Limitations. Defendants argue that the remedy
sought in part of Count I violates the two-year limitation
period. Section 1983 claims are subject to the statute of
limitations for personal injury actions in the state in which the
alleged injury occurred. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276-80
(1985). In Illinois, such claims are governed by the two-year
statute of limitations applicable to personal injury actions.
735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-202; Hileman v. Maze, 367 F.3d 694, 696
(7th Cir. 2004). Claims in an Amended Complaint that arise out of
the events described in the original Complaint relate back to the
date of the original pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(2).
Count I pertains to events that occurred in 1999, and plaintiff
filed his Eighth Amendment claim against defendants Taylor and
Mayo in September, 2000. Because the events related in Count I of
the Amended Complaint arise out of the events described in the
original Complaint, the Court is not persuaded that the Eighth
Amendment claim against these defendants is barred by the
two-year limitation period.
Qualified Immunity. Defendants argue that they are immune
from an award of damages based on some of the allegations
supporting Count I. When a qualified immunity defense is asserted in a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff can prevent the defendant
from making a quick exit from suit by demonstrating that (1) the
conduct alleged in the complaint sets forth a constitutional
violation and (2) the constitutional standards were clearly
established at the time of the alleged violation. Khuans v.
School District 110, 123 F.3d 1010, 1013 (7th Cir. 1997).
Because the Eighth Amendment claim asserted in Count I states a
constitutional deprivation under a standard that was
well-established in 1999, the qualified immunity defense is
rejected at this time.
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is proper where "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with
the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). To
determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact,
courts construe all facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable
inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies. Defendants
concede that plaintiff exhausted administrative remedies with
respect to a portion of Count I. They claim that he did not do so
with respect to all of the issues raised, specifically
allegations regarding offensive comments and medical treatment.
Although exhaustion of administrative remedies is a
precondition to suit, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Massey v. Helman,
259 F.3d 641, 645-46 (7th Cir. 2001), failure to exhaust is an
affirmative defense that the defendants have the burden of
pleading and proving, Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1009
(7th Cir. 2002). In order to properly exhaust, a prisoner must
submit inmate complaints and appeals "in the place, and at the
time, the prison's administrative rules require." Pozo v.
McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002). Illinois
regulations allow an inmate convicted of a disciplinary violation to appeal through
the prison grievance procedure. 20 Ill. Admin. Code §§
504.800-504.870. The procedures provide that a grievance officer
will review the claim and make a recommendation to the Chief
Administrative Officer (Warden), who then makes a decision. If
the prisoner is still dissatisfied, he may appeal to the Director
of the Illinois Department of Corrections. The regulations
specify that "[t]he Director shall review the grievance and the
responses of the Grievance Officer and the Chief Administrative
Officer and shall determine whether the grievance requires a
hearing before the Administrative Review Board."
The materials on file show that plaintiff filed a grievance
pursuant to this procedure in July, 1999, and appealed the
decision to the Administrative Review Board and the Director of
the Illinois Department of Corrections, which did not reject his
arguments on procedural grounds but granted a remedy by remanding
disciplinary proceedings for rehearing (Doc. No. 45, Ex. 1). In
light of this evidence, the Court is not persuaded that the
defendants are entitled to judgment on their affirmative defense.
Failure to Provide Medical Care. These defendants also argue
that they are entitled to judgment in their favor on the medical
care aspect of Count I. They rely on plaintiff's testimony
regarding his access to medical care on about July 16, 1999. At
his deposition, plaintiff testified that "Sargent Mayo and them
took me over to the hospital and had a doctor check me out." He
explained that he was taken to the segregation unit after he was
released from the hospital, and described the events in
segregation as follows:
And I'm laying there I was standing up there and I
felt something warm running down my leg. It was
blood. And I start kicking the door, you know. Nobody
heard me. So the way I played it off, in order to get
somebody's attention, I put a sheet around my neck
and I sat down over by the toilet with it tied on the
bed like I was hanging myself. And the inmate that
was working in seg, he saw it. So he called the
officers in and said, Teague's hanging himself, which
I wasn't hanging. That never run across my mind to do
something to myself. I was just trying to get some
attention where I could get to the hospital because
I'm bleeding out of my rectum, you know. So about
four officers came, opened the door up, snatched me
out of the cell, took me over to the hospital.
(Doc. No. 45, Ex.7A, p. 10). Plaintiff went on to explain that he
was initially evaluated by a psychiatrist, who admitted him to
the hospital. He was examined by a medical doctor, who prescribed
treatment for possible hemorrhoids. Following further evaluation
and tests, a doctor observed a "bump" in his rectum and thought
plaintiff might have hemorrhoids. Plaintiff believes he suffered
a traumatic injury that was misdiagnosed.
In order to establish a violation of the Eighth Amendment on
the issue of medical care, plaintiff must show that he had a
serious medical need and that the defendants were deliberately
indifferent to his need for medical assistance. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). Because the facts described by
plaintiff could not support a finding that Taylor or Mayo
responded to plaintiff's serious medical needs with deliberate
indifference, these defendants are entitled to judgment in their
favor on the medical care aspect of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment
IT IS RECOMMENDED that the motion to dismiss filed by
defendants Taylor and Mayo (Doc. No. 33) be GRANTED in part and
DENIED in part. Count II of the Amended Complaint and plaintiff's
official capacity claims for damages should be DISMISSED with
IT IS FURTHER RECOMMENDED that the motion for partial summary
judgment filed by defendants Taylor and Mayo (Doc. No. 34) be
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Judgment should enter in
favor of these defendants on the medical care portion of Count I.
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