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West v. Hagene

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 18, 2013

KEITH A. WEST, Plaintiff,
v.
E. HAGENE, et. al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter comes before the Court on the defendants Terry Anderson, Randy Davis, K. Deen, E. Hagene, Sarah Johnson, and Counseior Lutz’s (collectively “Defendants”) motion for summary judgment (Doc. 39) to which plaintiff Keith A. West has responded. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants’ motion.

1. Facts and Procedural History

West, currently incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) at Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights occurring while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). After performing a preliminary review of West’s complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court divided West’s complaint into two counts as follows: (1) denial of access to the courts, and (2) denial of adequate medical care. Because the counts were unrelated, the Court severed Count Two involving West’s denial of medical care. After preliminary review, the instant case involves West’s denial of access to the courts claim against Defendants. Thus, the Court will review the facts as they relate to the remaining claim.

While incarcerated in Danville Correctional Facility, certain events that occurred between January and March 10, 2008, led West to believe staff had been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. He sought to file a complaint in the Central District of Illinois for this claim causing him to need access to his legal files. West filed a notice of intent to sue dated March 6, 2010, in the District Court for the Central District Court, a case before the Honorable Michael P. McCuskey, Case Number 10-cv-2070-MPM-DGB. It was not until May 17, 2010, that West filed his complaint. Judge McCuskey found that

[West]’s claim[s] for the period of January through March 10, 2008 are barred by Illinois’ two-year statute of limitations. See 735 ILCS 5/13-202; see Lucien v. Jackisch, 133 F.3d 464, 466 (7th Cir. 1998). The plaintiff’s Notice of Intent to file a lawsuit does not toll the statute of limitations. His complaint was not filed until May 17, 2010, far past the two-year limit. Pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/13-202, his lawsuit is dismissed in its entirety.

Doc. 1-1, p. 5.

During the time he was trying to file the complaint, West was transferred from Western Illinois Correctional Center to Pinckneyville on March 3, 2010, and was in segregation in Pinckneyville from March 3, 2010, until April 17, 2010. While he complains that he was denied access to his legal materials at Western Illinois Correctional Center, the allegations in his complaint relate to Defendants’ alleged actions at Pinckneyville. While in segregation at Pinckneyville, West alleges Defendants refused him access to his legal papers after he informed Defendants he needed these papers to pursue his case and meet the statute of limitations deadline. It was not until May 7, 2010, three weeks after his release from segregation, that West gained access to his legal materials. West alleges in his complaint that Defendants’ actions denying him access to his legal materials resulted in the dismissal of his case in the Central District of Illinois.

The parties agree that West arrived at Pinckneyville on March 3, 2010. He filed a grievance on March 8, 2010, in which he referenced a conversation with Lutz about his need to gain access to his legal files for the purpose of “filing the complaint in its final finished form” and to “meet[] mandatory statutory limitations guidelines.” Doc. 40-1, p. 1. He references several other oral and written requests both before and after March 10, 2010, in which he seeks access to his legal files.

On November 27, 2012, Defendants deposed West. During the course of that deposition, West confirmed that if any of the defendants had given him access to his legal materials on March 3, 2010, it would have still have taken him approximately one month to draft his complaint. Specifically, the following exchange took place

Defense counsel: Okay. But if it took you a month [to draft your complaint] when you got out of seg[regation], I assume it would have taken you a month if you were in seg[regation to draft your complaint].
West: Yes, ma’am.
Defense counsel: It would have taken ...

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