United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, United States District Judge.
Burl Washington, an inmate in the Federal Bureau of Prisons,
filed a pro se lawsuit on July 30, 2012, pursuant to
Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1991),
alleging 15 claims (some with multiple parts) against 24
defendants (see Doc. 1). Following a threshold
review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a
number of Washington's claims for retaliation,
interference with his First Amendment right to correspond
with friends and family, deliberate indifference, and
excessive force against the above-named Defendants (Counts
8A-D, 11A, and 12A) were severed into this new case (Doc. 1).
In these counts, Washington claims that, while he was
hospitalized at Barnes Hospital for complications resulting
from his glaucoma surgery, Defendants denied him access to
the bathroom, confiscated writings he intended to mail to a
friend along with his writing materials, “lost”
his eye patch, turned down the air conditioner to a very cold
setting, struck him on the back of the head, wrote a false
incident report, and punished Washington for an
“unspecified” and unsubstantiated charge for
which he was not given proper notice.
September 10, 2014, Defendants Auterson, Fester, and Jones
moved for summary judgment arguing that Washington failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison
Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e) (Doc. 33).
Defendants Goldsborough and Hoffmeier joined and adopted the
motion for summary judgment (Docs. 53 and 60). Plaintiff,
through appointed counsel, timely filed responses to each of
the motions for summary judgment (Docs. 50, 55, and 64).
an evidentiary hearing, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson issued a
Report and Recommendation, which recommended granting the
motions for summary judgment (Doc. 66). Washington did not
file any objections to the Report and Recommendation. On
August 3, 2015, the undersigned District Judge adopted the
Report and Recommendation, and Washington's claims
against all Defendants were dismissed without prejudice for
failure to exhaust his administrative remedies (Doc. 67).
than four months after judgment was entered, Washington filed
a motion to amend or correct his complaint (Doc. 73) and a
motion requesting relief from the final judgment under Rule
60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc. 74). Both
motions are currently before the Court.
under Rule 60(b) “is an extraordinary remedy and is
granted only in exceptional circumstances.” Bakery
Machinery & Fabrication, Inc. v. Traditional Baking,
Inc., 570 F.3d 845, 848 (7th Cir. 2009). The decision
whether to grant relief under Rule 60(b) is left to the
discretion of the district court, and its ruling will not be
reversed absent an abuse of that discretion. Id.
(“The district court has great latitude in making
a Rule 60(b) decision because that decision ‘is
discretion piled on discretion.'”) The Rule permits
a court to vacate a judgment, order, or proceeding based on
one of six specific grounds:
(1) Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable
diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for
a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously
called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or
misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged;
it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or
vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable;
or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b).
Washington invokes ground two by claiming that he is entitled
to relief based on “newly discovered evidence that
could not be discovered earlier due to denial of adequate
assistance with reading and writing after [he] suffered
significant and sever[e] vision loss” (Doc. 74).
Washington describes the progression of his vision loss from
March 2012 up through the present day (Doc. 73). As best the
Court can tell, Washington is claiming that the grievance
process was rendered unavailable to him because of his visual
impairment and the lack of assistance with reading and
Order granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment,
the Court determined that Washington filed a number of
grievances between March 2012 and June 2012, none of which
were fully exhausted. The Court concluded that Washington
“either failed to file a grievance regarding claims in
this lawsuit, failed to properly appeal or file grievances
related to his claims, or failed to wait until after the
administrative process” (Doc. 66). Consequently, the
Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment and
dismissed the case without prejudice (Docs. 67, 68).
Court would consider vacating the dismissal of this action if
Washington demonstrated he was unable to complete the
grievance process because it was made unavailable to him by
virtue of the fact he was visually impaired and did not have
any assistance with reading and writing. In evaluating
whether Washington has made this showing, the Court is
primarily concerned with the period of time from March 2012,
which is when Washington began filing grievances relevant to
the claims in this case, to July 30, 2012, which is when
Washington filed his lawsuit, because this is the period of
time during which Washington could have theoretically
completed the grievance process.
Washington claims that he “suffered significant vision
loss” beginning in March 2012 (Doc. 74, p. 2), the
Court concludes that, whatever the extent of his vision loss
at that time, it did not hinder him from participating in the
grievance process. To begin with, Washington appears to
indicate that assistance with reading and writing did not
become a necessity until August 2012, which is after he filed
suit (Doc. 73, p. 9). Additionally, from April to July 2012,
Washington submitted some two dozen grievances and appeals
(Doc. 33-3). These submissions indicate that either
Washington had not completely lost his ability to read and
write or he had access (and plenty of it) to other inmates
who were willing to read and write for him. Consequently,
Washington has failed to demonstrate that his ...