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Mlaska v. Schicker

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 7, 2017

RALPH MLASKA, B10587, Plaintiff,


          Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         This is a prisoner civil rights lawsuit involving events that occurred at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), a facility within the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) prison system. Plaintiff's claims allege that he has received inadequate medical care for penile and testicular pain. He brings his claims against the Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. After conducting an initial screening of this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this Court allowed the case to proceed against Defendants Louis Schicker, Wexford Health Source, Alfonso David, Marry Miller, Camilla Etienne, Robert Hilliad, and Sheri Stokes Lynn, as well as Kurtis Hunter (in his official capacity only) (Doc. 16). Service proceeded, and multiple Defendants sought a stay of the case to await the conclusion of state court proceedings dealing with strikingly similar or identical claims and parties (Docs. 40, 45). On March 2, 2016, this Court granted a stay to await the resolution of state court proceedings (Doc. 62).

         While the case was stayed, the Court addressed numerous piecemeal filings by Plaintiff whereby he sought various injunctive and emergency relief, as well as motions attempting to remove the stay. The stay was lifted in April 2016 upon Defendants' notification to the Court that the state court proceedings had concluded (Dkt. entry 79). The Defendants then began filing various dispositive motions to resolve the case on the basis of res judicata, or summary judgment (Docs. 91, 93). Before the Court could address the merits of those motions, the case was stayed for a second time because apparently there were issues about the finality and appealability of the state court litigation (Doc. 106). At that time, the Court denied without prejudice the motions for res judicata and summary judgment (Id.).

         During the course of the second stay, Plaintiff filed motions seeking to have the case proceed before this Court despite the unsettled nature of state court proceedings (Docs. 112, 113). The Court, via a detailed text order, warned the Plaintiff of the potential risks and consequences for his perpetual filings, cautioning him that such conduct could result in sanctions (Dkt. entry 114).

         In late November 2016, the Defendants sought an extension of the stay, or in the alternative, a ruling dismissing the matter on res judicata grounds (Docs. 115, 116). The Defendants' motions informed the Court that the state court proceedings had reached finality, absent an appeal by the Plaintiff of those matters. In light of the update, the Court directed the Plaintiff to respond on the very narrow issue of whether or not he intended to pursue an appeal in state court so that this Court could best determine if it was appropriate to lift the stay, or if the case should await further disposition in state court (Dkt. entry 117). The Plaintiff responded by filing multiple verbose documents that made it extremely unclear what he intended to do in state court, and he ultimately sought an extension of time to craft his state court strategy as it were (Docs. 118, 120). The Court reviewed the filings and directed the Plaintiff to file a brief explicitly addressing his intention to appeal in state court, and including specifics such as case numbers and deadlines (Dkt. entry 121). The Court strongly cautioned that a failure to do so, or a brief not tailored to the Court's inquiry could result in dismissal (Id.).

         On December 30, 2016, the Plaintiff filed a document titled “Judicial Notice Instanter” (Doc. 122)-the only document he timely filed in response to the Court's directive instructing him to provide specifics about any state court appeal. The succinct four-paragraph document indicated:

(1) On 12-19-2016 Plaintiff sent a post judgment motion indicating he MAY voluntarily dismiss defendants upon hearing regarding issue of ‘frivolous' both of which hinder state court appeal.
(2) In response to this court stating it would not issue injunction, Plaintiff has filed a notice of appeal in state court on 12-22-2016.
(3) Wherefore since plaintiff has to dismiss defendants to make it appealable plaintiff requests this court consider any dismissal in this court without prejudice and/or without strike.
(4) Plaintiff requests this court stay involved until resolution of state appeal as failure to follow specialists recommendations and practice/policy/failure to supervise by Wexford remain live and in controversy.

(Id.). Subsequently, on January 19, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a second document styled as a response to this Court's Order (Doc. 121) directing him to provide specifics about his appellate prospects in state court (Doc. 124). In the document, he claims that he did not receive this Court's Order (Doc. 121) until January 13, 2017, after the date set by that order for filing a brief had already elapsed (Doc. 124 at 1-2). Plaintiff claims that he has no documentation of any efforts to take an appeal in state court, and yet to the contrary, he also indicates that he filed a dismissal of any appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 309.

         Rule 309 states that “the trial court may dismiss the appeal of any party (1) on motion of that party or (2) on stipulation of the parties. A copy of the order of dismissal filed in the trial court shall be forwarded by the clerk to the reviewing court within five days after the entry of such order.” Thus, based on the plain language of the precise Rule Plaintiff identifies, there would necessarily be a document evidencing his voluntary dismissal of any state court appeal. Yet, Plaintiff did not file such a document, nor did he provide his trial court case number, the date of the dismissal, or any other verifying information.

         The Defendants' Motions for Extension of Stay or disposition on res judicata grounds (Docs. 115, 116), as well as the Plaintiff's Notice Instanter (Doc. 122) and the Plaintiff's Response to Doc. 121 (Doc. 124) are now before the Court for a ruling. For the reasons stated ...

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