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Smith v. Briley

August 16, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan H. Lefkow


Plaintiff Eric Smith ("Smith") filed the present action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants, Kenneth Briley, warden of the Stateville Correctional Center, and Sergeant T. Davis violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by subjecting him to below-freezing temperatures while he was housed at the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). Defendants have moved for summary judgment on Smith's § 1983 claims, arguing that Smith failed to exhaust the administrative remedies required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)(a) ("PLRA"). For the reasons stated below, the court denies defendants' motion.


Summary judgment obviates the need for a trial where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). To determine whether any genuine fact exists, the court must pierce the pleadings and assess the proof as presented in depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits that are part of the record. Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c) Advisory Committee's notes. The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of proving there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L.Ed. 2d 265, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). In response, the nonmoving party cannot rest on bare pleadings alone but must use the evidentiary tools listed above to designate specific material facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324; Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598 (7th Cir. 2000). A material fact must be outcome determinative under the governing law. Insolia, 216 F.3d at 598-99. Although a bare contention that an issue of fact exists is insufficient to create a factual dispute, Bellaver v. Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485, 492 (7th Cir. 2000), the court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party as well as view all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986).


Before reaching the merits of defendants' motion, the court must address the objections raised by defendants to the factual allegations contained in Smith's First Amended Complaint and his affidavit opposingdefendants' motion for summary judgment. Smith filed a pro se complaint on November 5, 2003 and an amended pro se complaint on December 2, 2003. Defendants filed a limited motion for summary judgment as to the issue of exhaustion under the PLRA on March 4, 2004. On April 19, 2004, Smith, through his court-appointed counsel, submitted an unopposed motion to amend the complaint to substitute Sergeant T. Davis for defendant Sergeant John Doe [#21], which the court granted on April 22, 2004. On September 16, 2004, Smith filed Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint at Law.*fn1 That same day, Smith filed a response to defendants' motion for summary judgment and attached an affidavit in support of his claims. The factual allegations contained within Smith's original pro se complaints differ from the factual allegations contained within Smith's First Amended Complaint. Defendants have argued, without citing to any authority, that Smith should not be allowed to change his factual allegations in order to avoid the repercussions of failing to comply with the PLRA's exhaustion requirement. The court rejects this argument.

It is well-settled that "an amended pleading supersedes the original pleading; facts not incorporated into the amended pleading are considered functus officio."*fn2 Kelley v. Crosfield Catalysts, 135 F.3d 1202 at 1204 (7th Cir. 1998), citing Duda v. Bd. of Educ. of Franklin Park Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 84, 133 F.3d 1054 (7th Cir. 1998); Wellness Community-Nat'l v. Wellness House, 70 F.3d 46, 49 (7th Cir. 1995); Lubin v. Chicago Title & Trust Co., 260 F.2d 411, 413 (7th Cir. 1958) ("It is hornbook law that an amended complaint complete in itself and making no reference to nor adopting any portion of a prior complaint renders the latter functus officio."). Smith's affidavit is entirely consistent with the allegations contained in the First Amended Complaint. Thus, the court will consider Smith's affidavit when deciding the present motion.


From February 5, 2003 to February 11, 2003, Smith was incarcerated at Stateville.*fn4 During that seven-day period, Smith repeatedly complained to the prison guards and staff about the below-freezing temperatures in his cell. Smith requested a grievance form from the guards and staff but was told that the forms would be provided later or by the next shift of prison guards. Smith never received a grievance form. Smith also was not afforded an opportunity to meet with his counselor because his counselor was inaccessible and never entered the gallery.

In order to notify prison officials of his grievance, Smith resorted to writing a formal grievance on part of a brown paper bag. On February 6, 2003, Smith gave this grievance to an officer and asked the officer to deliver the grievance to the authority responsible for handling grievances. The officer assured Smith that his grievance would get to the proper authority. When Smith followed up with an officer regarding the lack of heat and his grievance, the officer asked, "What do you expect, you're in prison, crazy?"

The following day, February 7, 2003, Smith asked an officer to follow-up on his grievance, and the officer agreed. Again, Smith received no response. Later, during hall check, he asked another officer to investigate the status of his grievance and was told not to file any more grievances.

Smith then wrote a grievance to Warden Briley on another portion of the paper bag. In this grievance, he complained of the frigid conditions in his cell and explained that he had received no response to his earlier grievance. Smith gave this second grievance to an officer. When inquiring about this grievance, Smith received no response. Finally, Smith prepared a third grievance on the remaining portion of the paper bag. Smith placed this grievance in an envelope and gave it to a shift officer to give to Donald Snyder, Jr. ("Snyder"), the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). Smith received no response from Snyder.

The IDOC's Administrative Review Board ("ARB") has no record of these grievances. Smith's master file also does not contain any grievances regarding the conditions in Smith's cell ...

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