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Sultan v. Habing

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 31, 2015



MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

A. Introduction and Procedural History

While incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), Charles Sultan (Plaintiff) filed a prisoner civil rights complaint in this Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The complaint asserted claims based upon unsanitary conditions, deliberate indifference to his medical needs, and medical negligence. On threshold review of the complaint in January 2013, the undersigned dismissed certain claims and allowed the suit to proceed as to eight Defendants (Doc. 6), one of whom (Defendant Sucher) was dismissed in an October 2013 Order (Doc. 95).

In February 2014, the undersigned dismissed with prejudice the remaining claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), due to Plaintiff's failure to follow court orders and prosecute the case, including failure to pay the $2.02 initial partial filing fee as ordered or show cause for failing to do so (Doc. 116). In January 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated that dismissal and remanded the case to this Court for further proceedings (1/27/15 mandate, Doc. 135).

Now before the Court is a Report and Recommendation (R&R) which predates the appeal. Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams issued an R&R (Doc. 104) on two summary judgment motions filed by the two sets of Defendants (Docs. 57 and 68). He recommended that the undersigned partially grant and partially deny the summary judgment motions. Defendants did not object. Plaintiff secured an extension of time to file an objection to the R&R and timely did so (Doc. 108).

On February 9, 2015, following the Seventh Circuit's remand of this case, Judge Williams reinstated the R&R and Plaintiff's objection ( see Doc. 140). The undersigned then set a deadline for Defendants to respond to Plaintiff's objection, pursuant to Local Rule 73.1(b). The two sets of Defendants filed their responses on March 3, 2015. Defendants Boldrey, Habing and Martin ("the IDOC Defendants") responded at Doc. 144; Defendants Fenoglio, Hardy, Kimmel and Wexford ("the Wexford Defendants") responded at Doc. 145. Although the Local Rules do not provide for a supplemental objection (or a reply to a response to an objection) and Plaintiff did not obtain leave to file either, the Court will consider Plaintiff's March 30, 2015 "Supplemental Objection" (Doc. 147).

Timely objections having been filed, the District Judge undertakes de novo review of the portions of the Report to which Plaintiff specifically objected. 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1); FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); SDIL LOCAL RULE 73.1(b). The undersigned can accept, reject, or modify the recommendations made by Judge Williams, receive further evidence, or recommit the matter to Judge Williams with instructions. Id. For the reasons stated below, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objections, adopts Judge Williams' Report in its entirety, and grants in part/denies in part Defendants' summary judgment motions. Analysis begins with reference to the applicable legal standards.

B. Applicable Legal Standards


Summary judgment is proper only "if the admissible evidence considered as a whole shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Dynegy Mktg. & Trade v. Multi Corp ., 648 F.3d 506, 517 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted), citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating-based on the pleadings, affidavits, and/or information obtained via discovery-the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). After a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); FED. R. CIV. P. 56. A fact is material if it is outcome determinative under applicable law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Ballance v. City of Springfield, Ill. Police Dep't, 424 F.3d 614, 616 (7th Cir. 2005); Hottenroth v. Village of Slinger, 388 F.3d 1015, 1027 (7th Cir. 2004). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

On summary judgment, the Court considers the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Srail v. Village of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court adopts reasonable inferences, and resolves doubts, in the nonmovant's favor. Id. ; Nat'l Athletic Sportswear, Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co., 528 F.3d 508, 512 (7th Cir. 2008). Summary judgment is "not an appropriate occasion for weighing the evidence" and should not be granted if the evidence before the court supports alternate inferences. Dowden v. Polymer Raymond, Inc., 966 F.2d 1206, 1207-08 (7th Cir. 1992). See also Anderer v. Jones, 385 F.3d 1043, 1064 (7th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1032 (2005).

When a motion for summary judgment is made on the ground of failure to exhaust (i.e., a "Pavey" motion), the first step in the proper sequence is for the judge to hold a hearing on the issue of exhaustion. Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008). When "factual issues relating to the defense of failure to exhaust administrative remedies, " are up for consideration, they will be decided by a judge. Id . at 740-41. A case can only proceed on the merits after exhaustion issues have been decided. Id . at 742.

In the case at bar, Judge Williams conducted a hearing on October 28, 2013. Plaintiff alleged that the IDOC Defendants were deliberately indifferent to unsanitary conditions of confinement (specifically, a filthy urine-stained mattress Plaintiff was given which resulted in Plaintiff contracting a skin condition, "scabies"). He alleged that the Wexford Defendants failed to provide adequate medical treatment for two medical needs (1) injuries Plaintiff sustained in a fall in December 2010, and (2) the scabies he contracted from the unsanitary mattress. Both sets of Defendants sought summary judgment based on Plaintiff's alleged failure to ...

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