United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge.
Aaron Miller, acting pro se, brought the present
civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff is an inmate incarcerated by the State of Illinois
at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”). Plaintiff alleges, among other
things, that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by
officials and staff at Pinckneyville when he failed to
receive medical treatment, or received deficient treatment,
for a stomach wound. This matter is currently before the
Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 67) filed by
Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Mary Berry, Mary
Beth Lane, LaDonna Long, William McFarland, Angel Rector, and
Vipin Shah (“Wexford Defendants”). The Wexford
Defendants assert that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act and that they are entitled to summary judgment.
Plaintiff filed a response, and this matter is ripe for
disposition. As discussed below, the Court finds that the
Wexford Defendants have failed to meet their burden, and
their motion (Doc. 67) is DENIED.
Factual and Procedural Background
was shot six times several years ago and has bullets still
lodged in his stomach and chest. (Doc. 8, p. 1). He suffers
from a seeping wound in his stomach, which requires dressing
changes regularly. Id. Plaintiff also suffers from
an enlarged hernia, a percutaneous fistula, and another
abdominal defect. Id. The thrust of Plaintiff's
lawsuit is that at various times beginning December 22, 2014,
Plaintiff received inadequate care for his ailments, or no
care at all, from Pinckneyville staff. See Id. at
2-5. For instance, among Plaintiff's allegations is that
his wound dressings were not changed from December 22, 2014,
through either February 14, 2015, or March 18, 2015.
Id. at 2. Plaintiff claims that he filed grievances
relating to these problems, as required by the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) administrative
remedies process. (See Doc 68-1, p. 10).
support their assertion that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies prior to filing suit, the Wexford
Defendants provided at least a portion of Plaintiff's
responses to the defendants' written discovery. See
Id. at 1-23. In answering a set of Defendants'
interrogatories, Plaintiff “identif[ied] all steps [he]
took to grieve each issue….” Id. at 10.
In doing so, Plaintiff stated there are “approximately
22 grievances in which I have copies of, yet there [are] many
that I Filed with the Counselor or grievance officer that I
didn't make copies of….” Id. He
goes on to state that there were “grievances that were
mishandled[, ] lost, destroyed, or misplaced, but I do have
approximittly [sic] 22 grievances within….”
Id. Plaintiff then listed the dates for the 22
grievances for which he had copies. Id. In his
response to the defendants' request for production
requesting the Plaintiff produce all grievances filed by him
against the defendants, Plaintiff wrote, “All
information is within, the only grievances that were not sent
are those that were mishandled by Pinckneyville Staff[, ]
which are many.” Id. at 19.
of the fact section of their Memorandum in Support, the
Wexford Defendants reference Plaintiff's discovery
responses and state, “Plaintiff stated which grievances
are applicable to his exhaustion of his administrative
remedies in this suit. Plaintiff claims that twenty-two
grievances are relevant….” (Doc. 68, p. 3). The
Wexford Defendants also provided along with their motion, a
large number of grievances, related appeals, and
Administrative Review Board responses. The provided documents
appear to include the twenty-two grievances listed by
Plaintiff. (See generally, Docs. 68-2 through
68-20). Defendants did not provide, however, any affidavit,
grievance log, or other documentation from the IDOC listing,
or otherwise indicating, the number and/or nature of
grievances filed by Plaintiff since December 2014.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate only if the admissible evidence
considered as a whole shows there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Archdiocese of Milwaukee v. Doe, 743
F.3d 1101, 1105 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)).
The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden
of demonstrating-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). A genuine issue of material fact
remains “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). Accord Bunn v. Khoury Enterpr. Inc., 753
F.3d 676 (7th Cir. 2014). In assessing a summary judgment
motion, the district court views the facts in the light most
favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor
of, the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Donahoe, 699
F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012); Delapaz v.
Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). As
required by Rule 56(a), the Court sets “forth the facts
by examining the evidence in the light reasonably most
favorable to the non-moving party, giving [him] the benefit
of reasonable, favorable inferences and resolving conflicts
in the evidence in [his] favor.” Spaine v.
Community Contacts, Inc., 756 F.3d 542 (7th Cir. 2014).
motion for summary judgment based upon failure to exhaust
administrative remedies typically requires a hearing to
determine any contested issues regarding exhaustion, and a
judge may make limited findings of fact at that time.
Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008).
The case may proceed on the merits only after any contested
issue of exhaustion is resolved. Pavey, 544 F.3d at
742. Generally, the Court's role on summary judgment is
not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge witness
credibility, or to determine the truth of the matter.
Instead, the Court is 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).
In Pavey, however, the Seventh Circuit held that
“debatable factual issues relating to the defense of
failure to exhaust administrative remedies” are not
required to be decided by a jury but are to be determined by
the judge. Pavey, 544 F.3d at 740-41. Here, the
question of exhaustion is a purely legal question, and no
hearing is required.
PLRA's Exhaustion Requirement
affirmative defense of failure to exhaust depends on whether
a plaintiff has fulfilled the PLRA's exhaustion
requirement, which in turn depends on the prison grievance
procedures set forth by the Illinois Department of
Corrections. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218
(2007). To properly exhaust administrative remedies under the
PLRA, a Plaintff is required to comply with prison grievance
procedures. Id. The PLRA provides that “no
action shall be brought [under federal law] with respect to
prison conditions…by a prisoner…until such
administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Under the PLRA,
exhaustion of administrative remedies is mandatory, and
unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.
Jones, 549 U.S. at 211. The case may proceed on the
merits only after any contested issue of exhaustion is
resolved by the court. Pavey, 544 F.3d at 742.
Seventh Circuit takes a strict compliance approach to
exhaustion by requiring inmates to follow all grievance rules
established by the correctional authority. Dole v.
Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006). A prisoner
must therefore “file complaints and appeals in the
place, and at the time, the prison's rules
require.” Pozo v. McCaughtry,286 F.3d 1022,
1025 (7th Cir. 2002). The PLRA's plain language makes
clear that an inmate is required to exhaust only those
administrative remedies that are available to him. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a). Where a prisoner fails to follow the proper
procedure, however, the grievance will not be considered
exhausted. Pavey v. Conley, 663 F.3d 899, 903 (7th