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Smith v. Larson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 10, 2017

RONNIE SMITH, # K56919, Plaintiff,
v.
DENNIS LARSON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         In April 2016, while incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center, Ronnie Smith filed a pro se lawsuit in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of his federally-secured civil rights while he was confined at Big Muddy Correctional Center. He named Dr. Andrew Johnson (an employee of Crossroads Community Hospital) and Dr. Dennis Larson (an employee of Wexford Health Sources, Inc.) as defendants and alleged that he had received inadequate medical treatment from them while at Big Muddy. The Court dismissed the original complaint and ordered Smith to amend. Smith did so in June 2016.

         The Court conducted threshold review of the amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. 1915A via an Order dated July 27, 2016 (Doc. 12). The undersigned dismissed Dr. Johnson without prejudice (as the amended complaint failed to state a claim against him) but found that Plaintiff had stated a cognizable claim against Dr. Larson for deliberate indifference to medical needs. Defendant Larson answered and asserted the affirmative defense of lack of exhaustion of exhaustion of administrative remedies (Doc. 18, p. 4).

         The case comes now before the Court on Defendant Larson's December 8, 2016 motion for summary judgment and supporting memorandum asserting that Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing this lawsuit (Docs. 25-26). Although plainly notified of the need to respond to the motion (see notice at Doc. 27), Plaintiff did not file any response or opposition to the motion.

         The Local Rules of this District allow the Court to treat that failure to respond as an admission of the merits of Defendant's motion. SDIL Local Rule 7.1(c). The undersigned treats the lack of response as an admission that there are no disputed material facts. See, e.g., Flynn v. Sandahl, 58 F.3d 283, 288 (7th Cir. 1995) (a failure to respond constitutes an admission that there are no disputed material facts).

         The motion presents a purely legal issue on which no evidentiary hearing is necessary. For the reason explained below, the Court finds that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) and grants Defendant's motion.

         II. Summary of Key Allegations and Evidence

         Plaintiff claims that he received deliberately inadequate medical care for his scrotal hernia from Defendant Larson while an inmate at Big Muddy. Plaintiff alleges that the inadequate care related to his hernia started in May 2013 and continued for two years. The record before the Court reveals the following.

         Plaintiff was approved for hernia surgery, which was performed on March 11, 2015. Plaintiff was transferred to Robinson Correctional Center on June 3, 2015. On November 11, 2015, Plaintiff had a second surgery in which drainage tubes were inserted to relieve swelling and fluid build-up.

         On December 8, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance with his counselor at Robinson related to his medical care from Defendant Larson at Big Muddy (Doc. 26-1). Plaintiff's counselor returned the grievance on December 17, 2015, because the issues within the grievance were not related to incidents that occurred at Robinson and were outside of the jurisdiction of Robinson (id., p. 1). Plaintiff's counselor instructed Plaintiff to send his grievance to the Administrative Review Board (ARB) (id.). The ARB received Plaintiff's grievance on December 29, 2015 and returned it on January 4, 2016, explaining that none of the issues except the second surgery (the November 11, 2015 surgery) fell within the applicable 60-day review period (Doc. 26-2). The ARB has no record of any other grievance filed by Plaintiff (Doc. 26-3).

         III. Analysis

         Analysis starts with an overview of the applicable legal standards.

         A. Summary ...


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