Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Owens v. Funk

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 24, 2017

JAMES OWENS, Plaintiff,
v.
SANDRA FUNK, Defendant. JAMES OWENS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN R. BALDWIN and SANDRA FUNK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies filed by Defendants John Baldwin and Sandra Funk on July 22, 2016 (Doc. 56). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         This matter involves two separate, but consolidated cases filed by Plaintiff, James Owens, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his complaint filed in Owens v. Funk, 14-cv-55-NJR, Owens sets forth an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Sandra Funk for transferring him from Pinckneyville Correctional Center to Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), despite Owens having been administratively removed from Menard in 2005 due to having known enemies there (see Docs. 16 and 28). John R. Baldwin, the IDOC Director, is named as a defendant in this lawsuit in his official capacity only for purposes of injunctive relief (Id. at p. 7). In his subsequent case, Owens v. Baldwin, et al., 15-cv-1085-NJR, filed on September 30, 2015, Owens sets forth a First Amendment claim against Defendant Sandra Funk for transferring him to different prisons on one or more occasions in retaliation for filing his previous lawsuit against her (case 15-cv-1085, Doc. 7, p. 3).

         In the motion for summary judgment now before the Court, Defendants Funk and Baldwin argue Owens failed to submit a grievance in 2011 or 2012 regarding the alleged improper transfer that took place in December 2011 by Defendant Funk and, as such, they ask the Court to enter judgment in their favor. In support of their motion, Defendants assert that the records of the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) do not contain any grievance concerning an improper transfer by Defendant Funk in December 2011, and Owens has failed to produce any such grievance. Defendants make no argument, however, concerning grievances filed by Owens complaining that Defendant Funk retaliated against him for filing a lawsuit. As such, the Court does not engage in any analysis to determine whether Owens exhausted his First Amendment claim against Defendant Funk pending in Owens v. Baldwin, et al., 15-cv-1085-NJR, as that is not properly before the Court.

         Owens filed a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment on September 8, 2016 (Doc. 60). In his response, Owens asserts that he exhausted his administrative remedies and, in support of this assertion, he attached a copy of a grievance dated December 4, 2012, which he contends shows his attempts to exhaust his claim against Defendant Funk (See Id. at pp. 5-7).

         On December 30, 2016, the Court notified the parties that based on the evidence presented with regards to the issue of exhaustion, the undersigned was inclined to grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment, but on grounds not argued by Defendants. Specifically, the Court noted that the grievance dated December 4, 2012, which Owens relied on to establish exhaustion, appeared to have been filed well beyond the time period prescribed by the Illinois Administrative Code because the events at issue in this case relate to a transfer that occurred in December 2011 (Doc. 68). See Ill. Admin. Code, title 20, § 504.810(b) (requiring grievances to be filed within sixty days of occurrence). Consequently, the Court indicated that it was inclined to grant Defendants' motion on this basis. Pursuant to Rule 56(f), the Court granted the parties thirty days to file a response to the Court's Order and assert any argument related to the filing of the December 4, 2012 grievance (See Doc. 68). At his request, the Court extended the time for Owens to file a response to the Court's Order to February 21, 2017 (Doc. 71). Owens's response was filed one week late, on February 28, 2017 (Doc. 72). Nonetheless, the Court recognizes the limited access Owens has to the law library and his legal materials, as set forth in his Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 70) and, as such, finds that his response was timely filed.

         In his response to the Court's Order, Owens sets forth case law regarding the tolling of statute of limitations while an inmate attempts to exhaust his administrative remedies (Doc. 72). Owens then argues that his grievance log shows he was actively pursuing grievances from 2006 to 2015 except during 2011, when Defendants obstructed the filing of grievances at Menard CC until December 12, 2011 (Doc. 72). Owens goes on to argue that the statutory deadline is tolled in this case because the ARB never responded to his grievance (Doc. 72).

         Legal Standards

         Summary Judgment Standard

         The standard applied to summary judgment motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is well-settled and has been succinctly stated as follows:

Summary judgment is appropriate where the admissible evidence shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A “material fact“ is one identified by the substantive law as affecting the outcome of the suit. A “genuine issue” exists with respect to any such material fact . . . when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” On the other hand, where the factual record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is nothing for a jury to do. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, we view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.

Bunn v. Khoury Enterprises, Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681 (7th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted).

         Exhaustion ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.