United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN United States District Judge
October 2015, while incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional
Center, James Owens (Plaintiff) filed a pro se complaint in
this Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of his
federally-secured constitutional rights. Specifically,
Plaintiff alleged that various officials at Lawrence denied
him adequate medical care and retaliated against him by
refusing to refill two medications (Chlorphenamine and
Naproxen, which he used to treat sinus pressure and arthritic
pain, respectively), and that these actions/inactions were
based on Plaintiff's filing of a prior lawsuit in this
Court (Case No. 14-cv-0510, “the 2014 case”).
threshold review of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. 1915A, the
undersigned organized the allegations as a claim of
retaliation in violation of the First Amendment (Count 1) and
a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs
in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Count 2). The Court
ordered both counts to proceed against defendants Stephen
Duncan, John Coe, Phillipe, and Unknown Party (identified as
“medical staff who canceled Plaintiff's sick call
passes after April 30, 2014”), and allowed Duncan (the
Warden) to remain in the suit for purposes of requested
injunctive relief. Five other defendants were dismissed
without prejudice, because the complaint stated no cause of
action against them. (Doc. 6, pp. 4-6).
November 2015, the Court granted a motion to consolidate this
case with the 2014 case, directed Plaintiff to file an
amended complaint in the combined action, and (after
reviewing the January 2016 amended complaint) entered an
Order clarifying which claims proceeded against which
defendants in the now-consolidated lawsuit. (Doc. 32). That
resulted in the addition of defendants Claudia Dowty, Mike
Higgins, and Tammy Kimmel.
before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by
Claudia Dowty and Tammy Kimmel (collectively referred to in
this Order as “Defendants”). Defendants allege
that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies
as to them as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(PLRA) before filing this lawsuit. The Court finds Plaintiff
exhausted his administrative remedies as to both these
Defendants. Therefore, as described below, the Court denies
Defendants' summary judgment motion (Doc. 53).
Summary of Key Allegations and Evidence
case has a convoluted procedural history, most of which is
not material to resolution of the motion now before the
Court. Relevant here is the fact that Plaintiff's January
26, 2016 amended complaint (Doc. 35) sufficiently alleged
that Defendants Kimmel and Dowty, both nurses, were
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical
needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (See
Doc. 11, p. 3; Doc. 32; Doc. 35).
gist of Plaintiff's complaint is that on numerous
occasions, he was denied medication that had been prescribed
to him. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant John Coe, a doctor,
prescribed him Chlorphenamine and Naproxen. (Doc. 35, p. 3).
Plaintiff alleges that he was prescribed Chlorphenamine on
February 13, 2014 and was prescribed Naproxen on August 13,
2014. He also alleges that he received Naproxen from
Defendant Higgins, a nurse, as early as February 19, 2014.
(Id. at 2, 3). Though Plaintiff's amended
complaint contains a litany of instances when Plaintiff
allegedly was denied medicine, he directs only three
allegations against the moving Defendants.
alleges that on March 1, 2014 and on March 27, 2014, his
medical records suggest that he received Chlorphenamine and
Naproxen per Defendant Kimmel (a licensed practical nurse),
but he in fact did not receive the medication.
(Id. at 4). He also alleges that though the records
say that on April 30, 2014 he received medication from
Defendant Dowty, he did not actually receive the medicine on
that date either. (Id.). Plaintiff maintains that he
did not receive his Chlorphenamine refill until May 12, 2014,
and he did not receive his Naproxen refill until June 27,
support of their motion for summary judgment, Defendants
submitted documents they received from Lawrence and from the
Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Administrative
Review Board (ARB) in response to their subpoenas in this
lawsuit. (See Docs. 54-2 - 54-11). Combined, those
documents total around 400 pages. (See id.). In his
memo opposing Defendants' motion, Plaintiff points to six
grievances he argues demonstrate that he exhausted as to
Dowty and Kimmel. (Doc. 57, p. 1, 2).
first grievance is dated April 20, 2014.
(Id. at 16). In that grievance, Plaintiff claimed he
was prescribed Chlorphenamine on March 9, 2014, and his
prescription was to expire on August 13, 2014.
(Id.). Plaintiff grieved that he was in need of a
refill and had been requesting a refill for over a month,
including by sending kites and by informing nursing staff
during sick call visits and med rounds, and he still had not
received the medications. (Id.). Neither Defendant
Dowty nor Defendant Kimmel is specifically mentioned in this
April 20, 2014 grievance was submitted both on a regular
basis and on an emergency basis. (Id. at 15, 16). As
to the emergency submission, Plaintiff sent the grievance to
the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), who deemed it a
non-emergency on April 21, 2014. (Id. at 16).
Plaintiff then submitted the grievance to the ARB, which
received it on May 2, 2014 and responded on July 31, 2014,
indicating that the grievance had been deemed by the CAO to
be a non-emergency and that Plaintiff should go through the
normal grievance procedure. (Id. at 17). The next
five grievances are dated in 2015, beginning on June 2, 2015
and ending on September 16, 2015. (Id. at 19 - 25).
Though the grievances are medical-related, they all pertain
to issues Plaintiff was having beginning on May 26, 2015 and
after. (See id.).
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