United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge.
of 2014, David Bentz, an inmate at Menard Correctional Center
proceeding pro se, filed suit in this Court under 42 U.S.C.
1983. Bentz alleged various federal constitutional violations
against a number of correctional officials. The claims
included, inter alia, failure to protect, excessive force,
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, and
retaliation. On threshold merits review of the complaint, the
undersigned dismissed certain claims and defendants
(see Doc. 5). Later Orders dismissed without
prejudice additional defendants based on Plaintiff's
failure to exhaust administrative remedies against them
before filing suit and his failure to timely identify
“John Doe” unknown parties (see Docs.
104, 164, 165).
the Court's May 14, 2016 Order (Doc. 65), remaining
herein are Adam Tope and Jacob Guetersloh, who were
substituted for John Doe 1 and 2. Plaintiff alleged that Tope
and Guetersloh conspired in a May 11, 2014 assault against
him, that Tope and Guetersloh used excessive force against
him, that Guetersloh failed to protect Plaintiff, that Tope
and Guetersloh committed assault and battery on him, that
they were deliberately indifferent to his injuries after the
attack, and that their actions in failing to obtain medical
treatment for Plaintiff amounted to negligence.
before the Court is an exhaustion-based summary judgment
motion filed by Tope and Guetersloh (collectively referred to
herein as “Defendants”) with a supporting
memorandum (Docs. 176-177). Plaintiff responded in opposition
(Docs. 186, 195). Defendants replied thereto (Docs. 190,
198). The Honorable Stephen C. Williams, to whom the case is
referred for pretrial proceedings, conducted an evidentiary
hearing on the motion on January 11, 2017 and ordered a
transcript of the hearing prepared.
January 18, 2017, Judge Williams submitted a detailed Report
and Recommendation (R&R, Doc. 216), recommending that the
undersigned Chief District Judge grant Defendants'
summary judgment motion. Plaintiff timely objected to the
R&R on January 27, 2017 (Doc. 218) and, one week prior to
that, filed a “Supplement” (Doc. 217) which the
Court considers with the objection. Defendants responded to
Plaintiff's objection on February 15, 2017 (Doc. 222).
Timely objections having been filed, the District Judge
undertakes de novo review of the portions of the Report to
which Plaintiff specifically objected. 28 U.S.C.
636(b)(1)(C)(“A judge … shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report … to
which objection is made.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); SDIL
Local Rule 73.1(b). The undersigned can accept, reject, or
modify the recommendations made by Judge Williams, receive
further evidence, or recommit the matter to Judge Williams
with instructions. Id.
allegations of assault, battery, excessive force, and
deliberate indifference are troubling, but the Court cannot
reach the merits of those claims unless Plaintiff fully
exhausted his administrative remedies before he
filed this suit. For the reasons explained below, the
undersigned concludes that Plaintiff did not fully exhaust
before commencing this lawsuit. The Court overrules
Plaintiff's objections and adopts Judge Williams'
R&R in its entirety. Analysis begins with reference to
the applicable legal standards.
Applicable Legal Standards
judgment is proper only “if the admissible evidence
considered as a whole shows there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Dynegy Mktg. & Trade v. Multi
Corp., 648 F.3d 506, 517 (7th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotation marks omitted), citing Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a). See also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian
Info. Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
showing --based on the pleadings, affidavits, and/or
information obtained via discovery -- the lack of any genuine
issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). After a properly supported motion
for summary judgment is made, the adverse party “must
set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986), quoting Fed R.
Civ. P. 56(e)(2). A fact is material if it is outcome
determinative under applicable law. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248; Ballance v. City of Springfield, Ill. Police
Department, 424 F.3d 614, 616 (7thCir. 2005);
Hottenroth v. Village of Slinger, 388 F.3d 1015,
1027 (7th Cir. 2004). A genuine issue of material
fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
a district court's role on summary judgment is not to
evaluate the weight of the evidence, judge witness
credibility, or determine the truth of the matter. It is only
to determine whether a general issue of triable fact exists.
Nat'l Athletic Sportwear Inc. v. Westfield Ins.
Co., 528 F.3d 508, 512 (7th Cir. 2008). But a
slightly different standard applies to summary judgment on
the issue of exhaustion. A motion for summary judgment based
upon failure to exhaust administrative remedies often
involves a hearing to determine contested issues regarding
exhaustion, and the judge may make limited findings of fact
at that time. Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742
(7thCir. 2008). The case may proceed on the merits
only after any contested issue of exhaustion is resolved.
Pavey, 544 F.3d at 742.
Exhaustion Under the PLRA
brought by prisoners are governed by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C 1997e. The PLRA requires that
“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 … administrative
remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C.
is a condition precedent to suit in federal court, so the
inmate must exhaust before he commences his federal
litigation; he cannot exhaust while his lawsuit is
pending. See Perez v. Wisconsin Department of
Corrections, 182 F.3d 532, 535 (7thCir.
1999); Dixon v. Page, 291 F.3d 485, 488
(7th Cir. 2002). If the inmate fails to exhaust
before filing suit in federal court, the district court must
dismiss the suit. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199,
223 (2007); Burrell v. Powers, 431 F.3d 282, 284-85
(7th Cir. 2005).
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit requires strict
adherence to the PLRA's exhaustion requirement. See
Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir.
2006) ('This circuit has taken a strict compliance
approach to exhaustion”). “Unless a prisoner
completes the administrative process by following rules the
state has established for that process, exhaustion has not
occurred.” Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022,
1025 (7th Cir. 2002). This includes the filing of
“complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time,
the prison's rules require.” Id. at 1025.
If the prisoner ...