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Adams v. Snyder

February 21, 2006

JOHN K. ADAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD N. SNYDER, JR., ROGER E. WALKER, JR., HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, LTD., CHRISTINE MITCHELL BROWN, ROSALINA GONZALES, FRED GARCIA, GUY PIERCE, JULIUS FLAGG, GARY KNOPE, MARK PIERSON, EDWARD JONES, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., AND ADRIAN FEINERMAN, M.D., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

In November 2004, John Adams filed this § 1983 lawsuit asserting that, while he was confined in Illinois correctional facilities, various prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of Adams' rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Adams amended his complaint twice, most recently in May 2005 (Doc. 18). The second amended complaint listed fifteen Defendants. Adams voluntarily dismissed two Defendants (Stanhouse and Holmes) in June 2005 (Doc. 22).

Eight Defendants moved to dismiss the second amended complaint on May 18, 2005 (Doc. 19). That motion comes now before the Court, via Report and Recommendation submitted by United States Magistrate Judge Philip M. Frazier on January 23, 2006 (Doc. 34).

Magistrate Judge Frazier recommends that the undersigned District Judge partially grant and partially deny the pending dismissal motion. More specifically (Doc. 34, p. 6), the Report recommends:

Damage claims against defendants Snyder and Walker (pt. of Counts I and II) should be dismissed without prejudice. Damage claims against defendants Pierce and Knope for injuries resulting from the conduct described in paragraphs 30, 32, 35 and 36 of the Second Amended Complaint should be dismissed with prejudice.

The Report was sent to the parties with a notice directing them to file any objections within ten days of service. Thus, objections were due February 9, 2006. The eight moving Defendants -- Brown, Flagg, Jones, Knope, Pierce, Pierson, Snyder, and Walker (hereafter "Movants") timely filed objections (Doc. 35). Thus, the Court must review -- de novo -- the portions of the Report to which specific objection was made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); FED.R.CIV.P. 72(b); SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS LOCAL RULE 73.1(b); Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court may accept, reject or modify the recommended decision, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. FED.R.CIV.P. 72(b); LOCAL RULE 73.1(b); Willis v. Caterpillar, Inc., 199 F.3d 902, 904 (7th Cir. 1999).

Movants lodge four specific objections.

First, they maintain that Defendant Snyder should not remain in the case at all now. In other words, they object to the Report to the extent that it did not completely dismiss Snyder from this action. In the Report, Magistrate Judge Frazier concluded that Adams failed to state a claim for § 1983 damages against Snyder (the former Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections or "IDOC") and Walker (the current Director of IDOC), because the complaint lacked any allegation that Snyder or Walker was personally involved in the alleged constitutional deprivations.

Adams' claims for damages against Snyder and Walker clearly merit dismissal. Movants, however, seek more. They want Snyder dismissed from the entire action. Their argument misses the mark. Here, the recommended dismissal involving Defendants Snyder and Walker (under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim) was without prejudice. There remains the possibility -- albeit remote -- that Adams could properly re-allege these damage claims (i.e., if the requisite personal involvement existed). Thus, even though the damage claims against Snyder may be the only claims against him in the second amended complaint, Magistrate Judge Frazier properly declined to dismiss Snyder from the action after dismissing those claims. Adams' victory on this front, however, may be short-lived. It appears likely that Snyder's dismissal from the entire action may soon follow, upon appropriate motion.

Second, Movants object to the Report "to the extent that the allegations prior to November 29, 2003 remain in the complaint" (Doc. 35, p. 3). In seeking dismissal, Movants had argued that the applicable two-year statute of limitations bars any claims based on medical complaints made before November 29, 2002.

Section 1983 claims in Illinois are governed by the two-year personal injury limitations period. Williams v. Lampe, 399 F.3d 867, 870 (7th Cir. 2005), citing Hileman v. Maze, 367 F.3d 694, 696 (7th Cir. 2004). Adams filed his original complaint on November 29, 2004. Thus, as a general rule, the applicable statute of limitations bars any allegations with a date certain predating November 29, 2002.

However, claims that accrued before November 29, 2002 can be asserted if Adams can link them to conduct within the limitations period, via the "continuing violation" doctrine. That doctrine allows a plaintiff to obtain relief for a time-barred act of discrimination by linking it with acts that fall within the statutory limitations. See, e.g., Hildebrandt v. Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 347 F.3d 1014, 1036 n.18 (7th Cir. 2003). Adams has alleged enough to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal motion on this issue.

In the context of such motions, the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "taking as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and making all possible inferences from those allegations in his or her favor." Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005); citing Lee v. City of Chicago, 330 F.3d 456, 459 (7th Cir. 2003).

Dismissal is appropriate only if it "appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id., quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). As Magistrate Judge Frazier noted, the pre-November 29, 2002 claims may not survive a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. But they survive the current ...


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