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Parker v. Walker

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


November 24, 2008

LEE HOLDEN PARKER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROGER E. WALKER, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to reconsider (Doc. 14). In an earlier Memorandum and Order (Doc. 13), Plaintiffs' request to reopen Lightfoot v. Walker, Nos. 73-238 and 78-2095 (S.D. Ill.) was denied. Lightfoot concerned living conditions in the Segregation Unit at Menard Correctional Center. The request was denied because the injunctive relief granted in Lightfoot was executed and Plaintiffs had not established good cause to reopen Lightfoot.

Now, Plaintiffs - who are now both confined at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (PCC) -ask this Court to reopen Lightfoot. In particular, Parker contends that he was confined in Menard Correctional Center at the time of the Lightfoot litigation and, therefore, is a member of the Lightfoot class of prisoners. Therefore, he contends he has standing to reopen Lightfoot. Alternatively, Plaintiffs contend that their 1983 action should survive because exhaustion of administrative remedies is an affirmative defense and not a proper subject for threshold review under 42 U.S.C. § 1915A.

The Court denied Plaintiffs' request to reopen Lightfoot because the injunctive relief in that case ended and moreover changes in the substantive law on which the injunction had been based no longer supported the injunction. There is no reason for the Court to reconsider its earlier Order.

Plaintiffs contend that the Court misconstrued the allegations of the complaint as indicating that they had taken no steps to exhaust their administrative claims. They suggest they have taken steps to exhaust their administrative claims, but they will only reveal these steps if the Defendants assert an affirmative defense asserting that they failed to properly exhaust their administrative remedies.

Plaintiffs need not plead exhaustion in their complaint. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). But, they can plead themselves out of court if they plead matters that undermine their claim. See Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 846 (7th Cir. 1999); Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1374 (7th Cir. 1977). In this case, Plaintiffs alleged that their claims of inhumane conditions and treatment were "as a matter of PLRA law . . . to the letter fully administratively exhausted by the Lightfoot notice to the defendants successors." See Complaint (Doc. 1), at page 4. This allegation of the complaint wrongfully equates PLRA exhaustion with mere notice to the defendants of the prior Lightfoot litigation. As such, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs did not properly exhaust their administrative remedies before proceeding with the instant § 1983 action. Although Plaintiffs now argue - in their motion - that they took additional steps to exhaust their administrative remedies, their complaint is what it is.

For these reasons, Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration (Doc. 14) is DENIED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

G. PATRICK MURPHY United States District Judge

20081124

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