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Diggins v. Coe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 7, 2017

SHAQUILLE RONZELL DIGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN COE, C/O TRAVIS OCHS, C/O MICHAEL GILREATH, JERRY TANNER, WARDEN STEPHEN DUNCAN, JOSEPH YURKOVICH, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., JOHN DOE 1, JOHN DOE 2, and WEXFORD DOE 1 THROUGH WEXFORD DOE 20, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Now pending before the Court are the Motions for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies filed by Defendant John Coe (Doc. 35) and Defendants Michael Gilreath and Travis Ochs (Doc. 39).

         Introduction

         Plaintiff Shaquille Ronzell Diggins filed this lawsuit on March 7, 2016 (Doc. 1) and is now proceeding on his First Amended Complaint, claiming that on November 23, 2015, he was subjected to a strip search and an intrusive and painful anal cavity search while imprisoned at Lawrence Correctional Center. Diggins alleges that when he complained about the search, prison officials placed him in segregation for eight days.

         Diggins is proceeding on three counts pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment (Count 1), unlawful search (Count 2), and retaliation (Count 3). Diggins also brings state law claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count 4), assault and/or battery (Count 5), and negligence (Count 6). Prior to the filing of the First Amended Complaint, Defendants Coe, Gilreath, and Ochs (who were the only original Defendants) filed the instant pending motions. Because the First Amended Complaint does not change the substance of Diggins's claims, and Defendants have not sought to supplement their motions, the motions are ripe for a ruling. An evidentiary hearing pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir, 2008), is not required because there are no material facts in dispute.

         Background

         The undisputed evidence reveals that on November 23, 2015, Diggins submitted an emergency grievance stating that he was forcibly subjected to a cavity search performed by Dr. Coe while Correctional Officers Gilreath and Oche held him down (Doc. 40-1, pp. 1-2). When Diggins complained about the search and asked to see the Warden, he was taken to segregation (Id.).

         On December 2, 2015, Diggins sent a letter to the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) indicating that he submitted two emergency grievances about the November 23, 2015 incident but that he received no responses (Doc. 40-2). The ARB responded on December 15, 2015, asking Diggins to supplement his letter with a copy of the response from the Warden to his grievances (Doc. 40-3). It is undisputed that Diggins never received a response to his emergency grievance from the Warden.

         Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate “that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant 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 Prison Litigation Reform Act 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, 534-535 (7th Cir. 1999) (stating that §1997e(a) of the PLRA “makes exhaustion a precondition to bringing 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 that 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. ...


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