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Hairston v. Walker

January 26, 2009

SHAUNTEZ T. HAIRSTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NICOLE WALKER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motions to reconsider (Doc. 13), to amend his complaint (Doc. 14), to clarify (Doc. 16), in response to the Court's order referring this case to a Magistrate Judge and dismissing two Defendants (Doc. 17), to amend his complaint (Doc. 20), and to reconsider "strikes" given to him under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) (Doc. 24).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed a pro se civil complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he had been denied adequate medical care in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The original complaint named five defendants: Nicole Walker; Jennifer Rude-Little; Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Wexford); Thomas Knapp; and the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department (Sheriff's Department). After conducting a threshold review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court determined that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Walker, Rude-Little, and Knapp survived threshold review and should not be dismissed.

The Court, however, found that the original complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted with respect to Defendants Wexford and Sheriff's Department. Specifically, the Court noted that liability under § 1983 could not be imposed on these two Defendants solely because an employee-employer (or principal- agent) relationship existed between these two Defendants and Walker, Rude-Little, or Knapp because it is well-settled that the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply in § 1983 actions.

Without alleging more, such as the existence of a policy or custom of these two Defendants that caused the violation of Plaintiff's rights, the Court found that the original complaint failed to assert a causal connection between these two Defendants and Plaintiff's alleged injuries. Put differently, Defendants Wexford and Sheriff's Department did not have sufficient notice of the nature of Plaintiff's claim against them. Because the original complaint failed to allege any facts indicating a causal connection between Plaintiff's alleged injuries and the actions (or inactions) of Defendants Wexford or Sheriff's Department, the Court dismissed the claims against them for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Additionally, the Court counted the dismissal as a "strike" against Plaintiff pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

THE MOTIONS

In his motion for reconsideration (Doc. 13), Plaintiff seeks to undo the dismissal of Defendants Wexford and Sheriff's Department. After filing his motion for reconsideration (Doc. 13), however, Plaintiff has filed motions to amend his complaint (Docs. 14 and 20) and to "explain" how Defendants Wexford and Sheriff's Department are responsible for his injuries (Doc. 17). Finally, Plaintiff seeks an order from this Court to undo the "strike" given to him for filing a claim upon which relief could not be granted (Doc. 24).

DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Reconsider

Technically, a "Motion to Reconsider" does not exist under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Seventh Circuit has held, however, that a motion challenging the merits of a district court order will automatically be considered as having been filed pursuant to Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See, e.g., Mares v. Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994); United States v. Deutsch, 981 F.2d 299, 300 (7th Cir. 1992). When, as here, the motion is filed within 10 days of the entry of judgment, whether the motion is analyzed under Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) depends upon the substance of the motion, not on the timing or label affixed to it. Borrero v. City of Chicago, 456 F.3d 698, 701-02 (7th Cir. 2006). In this case, Plaintiff's motion asks this Court to undo its prior order dismissing Defendants Wexford and Sheriff's Department from this action. Thus, the substance of the motion seeks to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e).

A motion to alter or amend judgment filed pursuant to Rule 59(e) may only be granted if a movant shows there was mistake of law or fact or presents newly discovered evidence that could not have been discovered previously. Matter of Prince, 85 F.3d 314 (7th Cir. 1996), reh'g and suggestion for reh'g en banc denied, cert. denied 117 S.Ct. 608; Deutsch v. Burlington Northern R. Co., 983 F.2d 741 (7th Cir. 1993).

Upon review of the record, the Court remains persuaded that its ruling dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Wexford and Sheriff's Department pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A was correct. Therefore, ...


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