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Jones v. Gardner

September 30, 2010

GREGORY D. JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEAN GARDNER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wilkerson, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Gregory D. Jones, an inmate in the Pontiac Correctional center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Defendant Officer Sean Gardner for deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief for being denied adequate medical care in violation of his Eighth Amendment Rights. Now before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 23) and Plaintiff's Opposition (Doc. 30). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

In August of 1999, Plaintiff Gregory D. Jones ("Jones") was admitted to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections and sent to the Menard Correctional Center ("MCC"), where he resided until his December 2006 transfer to the Pontiac Correctional Center (Doc. 24-2). At all times relevant to the instant action, Jones was an inmate at MCC and Defendant Officer Sean Gardner ("Gardner") was an MCC corrections officer (Doc. 24).

While at MCC, Jones received medical treatment for bone calluses, which, if left untreated, caused Jones significant pain and difficulty walking (Doc. 5). Jones alleges that on September 6, 2006, and again on September 9, 2006, Defendant Gardner denied him access to adequate medical care concerning a "progressively pronounced limp" as a result of these calluses (Doc. 1). Jones contends that Gardner denied him access to medical care despite the fact that doctors had made "several attempts to comply [with his] requests [for] needed medical care" and despite the fact that Jones possessed "call passes" for medical appointments (Doc. 1).

Jones claims that he filed four separate grievances on September 20, 21, 24, and 28 of 2006 pertaining to Gardner's conduct, but that he never received responses (Doc. 30-1). On October 22, 2006, Jones mailed a letter to the Administrative Review Board ("ARB"), which the ARB received on October 31, in which Jones again alleged that Gardner was denying him access to medical treatment at MCC (Doc. 24-1). On November 1, 2006, the ARB responded to the letter and advised Jones that his complaint was not of the type which allowed for direct appeal to the ARB and that he had to contact his correctional counselor regarding the issue (Doc. 24-1). After receiving this letter, Jones filed additional grievances on November 16 and again on November 22 in which he complained that the previous grievances allegedly filed in September pertaining to Officer Gardner's conduct were not responded to (Doc. 30-1). Then, on November 25, 2006, Jones sent a letter to the ARB. In it, he referenced the fact that his grievances filed in late-September relating to Gardner's conduct were not responded to, and further complained that his grievance submitted on November 16 was returned with the response that it "was not filed within the time frame" (Doc. 30-1).

On January 28, 2010, the Court held a hearing in accordance with Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008). At the hearing, Gardner argued that Jones failed to exhaust his administrative remedies because the records of the Administrative Review Board, along with Jones's master file, showed that he never filed a grievance with the ARB regarding Gardner's conduct. Gardner, however, conceded that, if the counselor did not respond to Jones' grievances, then there would not be a copy in Jones' master file (Doc. 41).

Jones tracked his efforts to obtain a response to the grievances, referencing the various letters he submitted to the ARB, and contended that his grievance counselor stated that oftentimes she would not follow up with inmates' grievances. Jones further stated that he retained copies of the grievances in the event that he received no response, but conceded that, aside from the copies that he retained, there would be no way to corroborate the fact that they were in fact submitted (Doc. 41).

Gardner then pointed to Jones's deposition testimony wherein Jones testified that he never received responses to any grievances filed in 2006 or 2007, despite the fact that his records show that he received formal responses to eleven grievances in 2006 alone. Jones, however, characterized this attack on his credibility as misleading, stating that his response in the deposition was not that he did not receive responses to all grievances filed in 2006, but that he did not receive responses to grievances regarding Gardner's conduct. In response, Gardner pointed directly to the deposition transcript, which indicated that Jones understood that he was referring to all grievances filed in 2006 or 2007, not just grievances pertaining to Officer Gardner (Doc. 41).

Jones also contended that the grievances to which he did receive responses were of less important issues, adding that the grievances involving more serious allegations-such as an incident involving an allegation that one officer attempted to suborn perjury from another officer-were not responded to because they carried more severe penalties.

Toward the end of the hearing, Jones made final attempts to bolster his credibility. He argued that, if in fact he never filed any grievance then there would be no reason to go through the trouble of submitting a letter to the ARB and then filing a grievance if he could have merely filed a grievance in the first place. Gardner, however, took issue with this argument, stating that the submission of letters to the ARB is not, by itself, sufficient proof that Jones filed grievances in the first place.

STANDARD

Summary Judgment is proper "if the pleadings, discovery materials, disclosures, and affidavits demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact such that [Defendant is] entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Wragg v. Village of Thornton, 604 F.3d 464, 467 (7th Cir. 2010). The Court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to Jones, as the non-moving party, and ...


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