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Canady v. Davis

April 29, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly United States District Judge



Derrick Canady has sued Correctional Officer Derrick Davis, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, and the County of Cook asserting a claim of excessive force and unreasonable search and seizure under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants have moved for summary judgment due to Canady's alleged failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). For the following reasons, the Court grants defendants' motions.


On a motion for summary judgment, the Court draws "all reasonable inferences from undisputed facts in favor of the nonmoving party and [views] the disputed evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Harney v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008).

On September 7, 2005, while awaiting trial, Canady was detained in Division 11 of the Cook County Jail. Officer Davis was locking down the tier in which Canady was housed, when several inmates got out of their cells. As the inmates ran from cell to cell, Davis eventually confronted Canady. The two men argued for a while, and Davis then entered Canady's cell. Canady testified that he tried to end the confrontation at that point. He claims, however, that Davis struck him on the side of the face and then punched and stomped his head and body repeatedly. After several minutes, when Canady was close to unconsciousness, Davis took Canady off the tier and had him sent to Cook County Hospital. Canady suffered a broken jaw and several cuts requiring stitches.

After he was released from the hospital, Canady was transferred to Division 8 of the Jail. He testified that he may have appeared in front of a committee to speak about the altercation with Davis, but he could not remember. He spoke with someone from Internal Affairs while at the hospital or at Division 8, but he did not file a formal grievance. Canady testified that he knew where to get a grievance form and how to file one but that he thought it would be useless to do so.

The Cook County Department of Corrections (DOC) initiated an investigation into Davis's behavior during the incident. The investigation concluded that Davis had used "unwarranted physical force on Detainee Derrick Canady." Davis Reply Ex. 1. DOC subsequently terminated Davis's employment.


Summary judgment is appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Bilthouse v. United States, 553 F.3d 513, 514-15 (7th Cir. 2009).

At issue is whether Canady exhausted his administrative remedies before filing suit under section 1983. The PLRA provides that "no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, or any other federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). All inmate suits concerning prison conditions are subject to the exhaustion requirement. Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002).

The Seventh Circuit "has taken a strict compliance approach to exhaustion." Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006). This means that "[a] prisoner must properly use the prison's grievance process." Id. "To exhaust remedies, a prisoner must file 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). This is so even if the administrative remedies that the prison makes available cannot provide the kind of relief the inmate seeks. Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 734-35 (2001). Because exhaustion is an affirmative defense, the burden of proof lies with the defendants. Dale v. Lappin, 376 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2004).

Defendants contend that Canady failed to file a formal grievance under General Order (G.O.) 14.5 and that the PLRA requires him to use all available remedies before he can be considered to have exhausted administrative remedies. Canady contends that DOC offers two different avenues-G.O. 14.5 and G.O. 4.1-for the pursuit of administrative remedies and that he exhausted his remedies via G.O. 4.1.

G.O. 14.5, entitled "Detainee Grievance Procedure," outlines the process for formal grievances by detainees concerning "institutional matters." Mot. Ex. 4 at 1. The stated purpose of G.O. 14.5 "is to establish a written policy and procedure that describes the grievance procedure that is available to all [DOC] detainees." Id. Grievances may be processed for a variety of reasons, including "alleged violations of civil, constitutional or statutory rights." Id. A detainee may file a grievance by placing a completed Inmate Grievance Form-which is available to detainees regardless of disciplinary status-in a designated box within fifteen days of the date that the event occurred. G.O. 14.5 provides that grievances should be resolved by the Correctional Rehabilitation Worker assigned to a particular division or forwarded to the Program Services Administrator if the grievance involves ...

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