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Cowans v. Johnson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 19, 2014

SHANE JONES and ANDRE COWANS, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLEN E. MARTIN, SGT. CAMPBELL, and SGT. JOHNSON, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

DONALD G. WILKERSON, Magistrate Judge.

This matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson by United States District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and SDIL-LR 72.1(a) for a Report and Recommendation on the question of whether Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). For the reasons set forth below, it is RECOMMENDED that the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Martin, Campbell, and Johnson (Doc. 46) be GRANTED, and that the Court adopt the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Plaintiffs, Shane Jones and Andre Cowans, brought this suit alleging that their constitutional rights were violated while housed at Shawnee Correctional Center ("Shawnee"). Generally, Plaintiffs allege they were subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement while housed at Shawnee. After an initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Plaintiffs were allowed to proceed on the following counts:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Campbell for subjecting Plaintiffs to excessively hot conditions in their segregation cells, which had no cold water and a broken window;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Johnson for denying Plaintiffs access to water during extremely hot conditions on the recreation yard, and for subjecting them to excessively hot conditions in their segregation cells while refusing to provide them with ice; and
Count 3: With respect to Plaintiff Jones, an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Johnson for denying Plaintiff access to toilet facilities on August 31, 2013.

On August 22, 2014 Defendants Forest Campbell, Jerry Johnson, and Allan Martin filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit (Doc. 46). Based on the affidavits of Leslie McCarty and Sherry Benton, chairpersons of the Administrative Review Board ("ARB"), Defendants claim that the ARB did not receive any grievances or appeals from either Plaintiff Jones or Plaintiff Cowans regarding any issue as of June 18, 2014. Further, Defendants rely on Plaintiff Jones' interrogatory response that states, with respect to the grievances he filed, "[a]s a class actions claim I did not file any grievance(s) at this point of time the plaintiff who filed the grievance(s) was plaintiff Headricks who is no longer on this class action any more" (Doc. 47-3). As this lawsuit is not, and never has been, certified as a class action lawsuit, Defendants argue that Plaintiff Jones cannot rely on another individual to exhaust his administrative remedies.

In conjunction with the filing of their Motion, Defendants filed a Rule 56 Notice, informing Plaintiffs of the perils of failing to respond to their Motion for Summary Judgment within the proper timeframe (Doc. 48). Plaintiffs' response to Defendants' Motion was initially due on September 25, 2014. However, due to Plaintiffs' failure to submit any response, the Court extended the deadline, sua sponte, to December 1, 2014 (Doc. 49). In the Court's Order extending the response deadline, the Court informed Plaintiffs that their failure to file a response may result in a finding that their failure to file a response is an admission of the motion's merits, pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(g). Neither Plaintiff has filed a response to Defendants' Motion.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). See also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005); Black Agents & Brokers Agency, Inc. v. Near North Ins. Brokerage, Inc., 409 F.3d 833, 836 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that no material facts are in genuine dispute; any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue must be resolved against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970). See also Lawrence v. Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 841 (7th Cir. 2004). A moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law where the non-moving party "has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. The Seventh Circuit has stated that summary judgment "is the put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events." Steen v. Myers, 486 F.3d 1017, 1022 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir. 2005) (other citations omitted)).

Exhaustion Requirements under the ...


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