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Terrell v. Martin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 25, 2017

DONALD W. TERRELL, Plaintiff,
v.
PHIL MARTIN, SLICHENMYER, and HEAP Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. Chief District Judge

         Plaintiff Donald Terrell, an inmate in Robinson Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026- 27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff received notice from the State of Illinois Health Services Administration advising him that his medical information was released for use in a proposal. (Doc. 1, p. 5). The letter further advised him that the information was compromised and deleted. Id. It was signed by Phil Martin, the Health Care Administrator. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Slichenmyer and Heap also have access to his medical records. Id. Plaintiff has HIV/AIDS and does not want his medical information disclosed. Id. He discussed this incident with the defendants but they told him that he had no rights in this situation, and that they had the authority to release his medical records without his consent. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5).

         Plaintiff alleges that he filed a grievance on this incident. (Doc. 1, p. 4). The grievance is “still pending final disposition.” Id.

         Discussion

         The Court will not analyze the substance of Plaintiff's Complaint at this time because it is apparent from the Complaint itself that he has not exhausted his administrative remedies prior to filing suit. The Seventh Circuit has been clear that the proper step in that situation is to dismiss the case without prejudice, even if a plaintiff exhausts his remedies while the suit is pending. Perez v. Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections, 182 F.3d 532, 535 (7th Cir. 1999). The purpose of this requirement is to “keep the courthouse door closed” while the administrative process runs its course in order not to undercut the administrative process. Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 398 (7th Cir. 2004).

         Failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense, and while typically the issue is one for defendants to raise, the Court may invoke an affirmative defense on behalf of an un-served defendant if it is clear from the face of the complaint that the defense applies. Walker v. Thomspon, 288 F.3d 1005, 1009 (7th Cir. 2002); Gleash v. Yuswak, 308 F.3d 758, 760 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Franklin v. McCaughtry, 110 F. ...


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