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Knox v. Rhodes

October 4, 2010

CHRISTOPHER KNOX, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. KELLY RHODES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Magistrate Judge Philip M. Frazier's Report and Recommendations ("R & R #1") (Doc. 127) of February 18, 2010. In R & R #1, it is recommended that the Court grant Defendants Roger Walker, Jason Garnett, Danny Hartline, Jessie Montgomery, Ken Bartley, Dr. William D. Eleya, and Wendy Navarro's (collectively "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 103), dismiss Defendants without prejudice, and direct the Clerk of Court to enter judgment accordingly at the close of this case.

This matter also comes before the Court on Magistrate Judge Frazier's Report and Recommendations ("R & R #2") (Doc. 143) of March 5, 2010. In R & R #2, it is recommended that the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendant Dr. Diana Dobier's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 112) and direct the Clerk of Court to enter judgment accordingly at the close of this case.

After a brief review of the law surrounding reports and recommendations and Illinois grievance pleading standards for prisoners, the Court will address each R & R in kind.

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of Review Governing Reports and Recommendations

After reviewing a report and recommendation, the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge in the report. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). The Court must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. The Court has discretion to conduct a new hearing and may consider the record before the magistrate judge anew or receive any further evidence deemed necessary. Id. "If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error." Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999).

Plaintiff Christopher Knox ("Knox") filed Objections (Docs. 146, 154) to the underlying R & Rs in which he primarily argues that, contrary to Magistrate Judge Frazier's recommendations, he met the applicable grievance pleading standard with respect to Defendants and Defendant Dobier. Per Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), the Court will review these portions of the R & Rs de novo.

II. Illinois' Prisoner Grievance Pleading Standards

Exhaustion under the Prison Litigation Reform Act is not inadequate simply because "an individual later sued was not named in [a prisoner's] grievances." Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 219. Rather, prison regulations provide the level of detail necessary for a grievance to survive claims of inadequate exhaustion. Id. at 218-219.

Because Knox is confined at Tamms Correctional Center, the Court turns to the relevant Illinois regulation governing prisoner grievance standards, which states as follows:

The grievance shall contain factual details regarding each aspect of the offender's complaint, including what happened, when, where, and the name of each person who is the subject of or who is otherwise involved in the complaint. This provision does not preclude an offender from filing a grievance when the names of individuals are not known, but the offender must include as much descriptive information about the individual as possible.

ILL. ADMIN. CODE tit. 20, § 504.810(b) (West 2010) (emphasis added). This regulation acknowledges that "prisoners need identify names only to the extent practicable . . . . [by] articulating what facts the prison could reasonably expect from a prisoner in his position . . . ." Glick v. Walker, No. 09-2472, 2010 WL 2775864, at *3 (7th Cir. 2010). This is because "it would be unreasonable to expect that, for every set of facts, an inmate will be able to peel back layers of bureaucracy and match a disputed decision with the prison employee responsible for that decision." Id. (finding plaintiff's claims were exhausted when, inter alia, plaintiff did not know who placed him in a higher security classification and assigned him to a smoking cell at the time his grievances, which did not name any defendants, were filed).

When a defendant's name was unknown to plaintiff at the time of his grievance, other district courts have held that a mention of the defendant's job title or duties in the grievance may fulfill the pleading requirements of § 504.810(b) and overcome the defense of failure to exhaust. See, e.g., Sylvester v. Chandler, No. 07 C 50050, 2010 WL 3420385, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2010) ("At the very least, plaintiff was required to generally describe a treater who abused him, or even to identify the treaters as Dixon [Correctional Center] nurses."); Allen v. Feinerman, No. 07-cv-805, 2010 WL 894063, at *10 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 10, 2010) ("Plaintiff could have easily named the Defendants, or at least identified them by describing them or their positions, in the grievances he did file."); but see Kyles v. Mathy, No. 09-1084, 2010 WL 3025109, at *5 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 2, 2010). This is because "[g]rievances are intended to give prison administrators an opportunity to address a shortcoming, not to put individual defendants on notice of a lawsuit." Glick, 2010 WL 2775864, at *3; see Jones, 549 U.S. at 219 (citation omitted); Conyers v. Abitz, 416 F.3d 580, 584 (7th Cir. 2005); but see Conley v. Mathes, No. 09-1299, 2010 WL ...


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