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Bentz v. Ghosh

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 31, 2015




This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson (Doc. 158), recommending that the motions for summary judgment on the issue of exhaustion filed by Defendants Dr. Andrew Tilden, Dr. Robert Stelfox, and Warden Richard Harrington (Docs. 122, 132) be granted. The Report and Recommendation was entered on February 18, 2015, and Plaintiff David Bentz filed a timely objection (Doc. 164).

Because timely objections were filed, the undersigned must undertake a de novo review of the Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C); FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); SDIL-LR 73.1(b); Harper v. City of Chicago Heights, 824 F.Supp. 786, 788 (N.D. Ill. 1993); see also Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). De novo review requires the district judge to "give fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objections have been made" and make a decision "based on an independent review of the evidence and arguments without giving any presumptive weight to the magistrate judge's conclusion." Harper, 824 F.Supp. at 788 (citing 12 Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 3076.8, at p. 55 (1st ed. 1973) (1992 Pocket Part)); Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 661 (7th Cir. 2013). The Court "may accept, reject or modify the magistrate judge's recommended decision." Harper, 824 F.Supp. at 788. For the reasons stated below, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objections and adopts the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Wilkerson.


Plaintiff David Bentz is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections at Menard Correctional Center. He filed this action on June 17, 2013, alleging various claims against a number of Defendants related to the denial of dental care while he was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, Pontiac Correctional Center, and Menard Correctional Center. As of now, the only claims that remain pending are:

• Count 1 for deliberate indifference against Defendants Parthasarathi Ghosh, Dr. Andrew Tilden, Christine Luce, Dr. Robert Stelfox, Richard Harrington, and Does 1 through 6.
• Count 2 for negligence under Illinois state law against Defendants Parthasarathi Ghosh, Dr. Andrew Tilden, Dr. Robert Stelfox, and Does 1 through 6.

Defendants Tilden, Stelfox, and Harrington filed motions for summary judgment arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit (Docs. 122, 132).[1] As required by Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), Magistrate Judge Wilkerson held an evidentiary hearing on the issue of exhaustion on December 15, 2014 (Doc. 152). Following the hearing, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson issued the Report and Recommendation currently before the Court (Doc. 158). For the sake of ease, the Court will discuss separately the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and Plaintiff's objections as they pertain to each Defendant.


A. Defendant Andrew Tilden

Plaintiff claims that Dr. Tilden was deliberately indifferent to his serious dental needs at Pontiac on August 27, 2011. Plaintiff was seeing Dr. Tilden that day for a medical issue related to his hand, and Plaintiff asked Tilden for pain medication for his tooth and to assist him in getting dental care, but Tilden refused.

Magistrate Judge Wilkerson found that Plaintiff filed a grievance against Dr. Tilden on the same day of the examination (Doc. 158, pp. 3, 6). That grievance complained that Dr. Tilden failed to provide adequate medical attention for his hand; it did not mention anything about Plaintiff's requests regarding dental care. Consequently, at the Pavey hearing, Plaintiff conceded that this grievance was insufficient to exhaust his claims against Dr. Tilden (Doc. 158, p. 6). Plaintiff testified, however, that he filed another grievance against Dr. Tilden, likely sometime in September 2011, complaining that Tilden refused to provide him pain reliever for his toothache or refer him to a dentist ( Id. ). Plaintiff claimed that he put the grievance in the bars of his cell but never received a response ( Id. at p. 11).

Magistrate Judge Wilkerson found Plaintiff's assertion regarding the second grievance for denial of dental care not credible (Doc. 158, p. 11). Specifically, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson said it was "illogical" that Plaintiff would submit a grievance complaining about the treatment he received for his hand during the August 27th examination, but then wait an unspecified amount of time and file another grievance complaining about the denial of dental treatment during that same exam.

Plaintiff objects to Magistrate Judge Wilkerson's conclusion that he did not file a second grievance. He asserts that he "did in fact file a grievance" against Dr. Tilden regarding the denial of dental care, but he never got a response (Doc. 164, pp. 1-2). He does ...

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