United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
William Holtz, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this
lawsuit on March 21, 2014, alleging his constitutional rights
were violated while he was incarcerated at Lawrence
Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). More
specifically, Holtz alleges that medical personnel at
Lawrence denied him treatment for a broken hand and, as a
result of inadequate and delayed treatment, his hand healed
incorrectly. Following a merits review of the complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Holtz was allowed to
proceed on one count of deliberate indifference against Phil
Martin, the medical director of Lawrence, and Dr. John Coe, a
treating physician at Lawrence. Magistrate Judge Donald G.
Wilkerson recruited counsel to represent Holtz on June 27,
2014 (see Docs. 25, 26)
April 28, 2015, Defendant Martin was dismissed, without
prejudice, due to Holtz's failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies against this defendant (see
Doc. 49). Subsequently, Holtz sought, and was granted leave,
to file an amended complaint (see Docs. 55, 59-60).
In his amended complaint, Holtz sets forth the following
Count I: Deliberate indifference claim against Defendant Dr.
John Coe for failing to assess, provide and/or refusing to
provide timely treatment for Plaintiff's hand injury.
Count II: Deliberate indifference claim against Defendant
Elaine Burcham (f/k/a Elaine Hardy), N.P., for failing to
refer Plaintiff to an orthopedist and/or failing to ensure
Plaintiff was evaluated and treated by Defendant Coe for his
Count III: Medical negligence claim against Defendant Elaine
Burcham (f/k/a Elaine Hardy), N.P., for breaching the
applicable standard of care in treating Plaintiff's hand
Count IV: Deliberate indifference claim against Defendant
Wexford Health Sources, Inc., for failing to adequately staff
the healthcare unit at Lawrence.
Count V: Respondeat superior claim against Defendant Wexford
Health Sources, Inc., for the acts and omissions brought
against Defendant Burcham for medical negligence.
(see Doc. 60).
the filing of the amended complaint, Defendants Burcham and
Wexford filed a motion to dismiss Counts III and V (Doc. 69)
and a motion for summary judgment on the issue of exhaustion
of administrative remedies (Doc. 71), to which Holtz filed
timely responses (Docs. 76 and 77). Defendants Burcham, Coe,
and Wexford also filed a motion for summary judgment on the
merits (Doc. 80), to which Holtz again filed a timely
response (Doc. 82). Defendants' dispositive motions are
now before the Court.
Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Exhaustion
of Administrative Remedies (Doc.
Relevant Procedural Background
Burcham and Wexford filed a motion for summary judgment on
the issue of exhaustion (Doc. 71). In support of their
motion, Defendants explain that, prior to being named as
defendants in Holtz's amended complaint (see
Doc. 60), the Court found that Holtz had failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies against Phil Martin, who was
dismissed from this action without prejudice due to
Holtz's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies
(see Docs. 45 and 49). Defendants Burcham and
Wexford set forth similar arguments asserting they are
similarly entitled to summary judgment.
Relevant Factual Background
neither party has set forth facts that differ from those
found by the Court in its previous order on Defendant
Martin's motion for summary judgment on the issue of
exhaustion, it notes the following relevant facts. Holtz
filed a grievance complaining about the medical treatment, or
lack thereof, for his broken left hand on January 3, 2014
(see Doc. 1-1, pp. 3-4). Specifically, Holtz
complained that he did not receive proper care for his broken
hand and, as a result, it healed improperly (Id.).
Holtz's counselor responded to this grievance on January
17, 2014, indicating that Holtz was approved for a medical
evaluation at Carle Clinic (Id. at p. 3). At the
Pavey hearing held on December 2, 2014, Holtz
testified that, upon receiving his counselor's response,
he placed this grievance into the grievance box to be
forwarded to the Grievance Officer (see Doc. 45, p.
3). The Grievance Officer received this grievance on February
6, 2014, but did not issue a response until June 2, 2014,
after which the Chief Administrative Officer
(“CAO”) responded on June 5, 2014 (see
Doc. 38-1, p. 6), well after Holtz filed this lawsuit on
March 21, 2014.
judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate
“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
Cnty., 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.”
Requirements under the Prison Litigation Reform
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) provides:
No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions
under Section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law,
by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other
correctional facility until such administrative remedies as
are available are exhausted.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Exhaustion of available
administrative remedies is a precondition to suit. Dale
v. Lappin, 376 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2004). See
also Perez v. Wis. Dept. of Corr., 182 F.3d 532, 535
(7th Cir. 1999) (stating that § 1997e(a) of the PLRA
“makes exhaustion a precondition to suit” under
§ 1983). Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is
an affirmative defense; Defendants bear the burden of proving
a failure to exhaust. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
199, 216 (2007); Dole v. Chandler, 483 F.3d 804, 809
(7th Cir. 2006). The Supreme Court has interpreted the PLRA
to require “proper exhaustion” prior to filing
suit. See Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 84 (2006).
This means “using all steps that the agency holds out,
and doing so properly (so that the agency addresses the
issues on the merits).” Id. at 90 (quoting
Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir.
2002)). In finding the PLRA requires proper exhaustion, the
Supreme Court agreed with the Seventh Circuit's
interpretation of the statute as stated in Pozo,
which required an inmate to “file complaints and
appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison's
administrative rules require.” Pozo, 286 F.3d
at 1025. In Pavey, the Seventh Circuit instructed
district courts to conduct a hearing to determine whether a
plaintiff has exhausted his remedies. Pavey v.
Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008). If a
plaintiff has exhausted his remedies, the case will proceed
on the merits. If, however, a plaintiff has not exhausted,
the Court may either allow the plaintiff to exhaust or
terminate the matter.
Requirements under Illinois Law
the procedures set forth in the Illinois Administrative Code,
an inmate must first attempt to resolve a complaint
informally with his Counselor. Ill. Admin. Code tit. 20,
§ 504.810(a). If the complaint is not resolved, the
inmate may file a grievance within sixty days after the
discovery of the incident, occurrence, or problem that gives
rise to the grievance. Id. § 504.810(b). The
grievance officer is required to advise the CAO at the
facility in writing of the findings on the grievance.
Id. § 504.830(d). The CAO shall advise the
inmate of the decision on the grievance within two months of
it having been filed. Id. § 504.830(d). An
inmate may appeal the decision of the CAO in writing within
thirty days to the Administrative Review Board
(“ARB”) for a final decision. Id. §
504.850(a). See also Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804,
806-07 (7th Cir. 2006). An inmate's administrative
remedies are not exhausted until the appeal is ruled on by
the ARB. See Id. The ARB shall make a final
determination of the grievance within six months after
receipt of the appealed grievance, where reasonably feasible
under the circumstances. Id. § 504.850(f).
inmate may request a grievance be handled as an emergency by
forwarding it directly to the CAO. If the CAO determines that
there exists a substantial risk of imminent personal injury
or other serious or irreparable harm, the grievance shall be
handled on an emergency basis, which allows for expedited
processing of the grievance by responding directly to the
offender indicating what action shall be taken. Id.
§ 504.840. If, after receiving a response from the CAO,
an offender feels the grievance has not been resolved, he may
appeal in writing to the ARB within thirty days after the
date of the CAO's decision. Id. §
inmate is required to exhaust only those administrative
remedies available to him. See 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a). The Seventh Circuit has held that administrative
remedies become “unavailable” when prison
officials fail to respond to inmate grievances. Lewis v.
Washington, 300 F.3d 829, 833 (7th Cir. 2002);
Brengettcy v. Horton, 423 F.3d 674, 682 (7th Cir.
2005). The availability of a remedy does not depend on the
rules and regulations as they appear on paper, but on
“whether the paper process was in reality open for the
prisoner to pursue.” Wilder v. Sutton, 310 F.
App'x 10, 13 (7th Cir. 2009). If further remedies are
unavailable to the prisoner, he is deemed to have exhausted.
Id. Prisoners are required only to provide notice to
“responsible persons” about the complained of
conditions. See Wilder, 310 F. App'x ...