United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge
Damarco Watts, currently an inmate at Menard Correctional
Center, within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC),
brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, against
various employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections
(IDOC) and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Wexford), a
contractor that provides healthcare services to IDOC inmates.
initially filed this lawsuit, Watts was confined at
Pinckneyville Correctional Center, he sued one Defendant, and
his case was randomly assigned to Judge J. Phil Gilbert,
United States District Judge. In his Order on threshold
review of the pro se complaint under 28 U.S.C. 1915A, Judge
Gilbert explained that Watts complained of events that
occurred while he was being transferred from Centralia
Correctional Center to Pinckneyville Correctional Center.
Judge Gilbert found that the complaint stated cognizable
Eighth Amendment claims for excessive force (Count 1) and
failure to provide medical care/deliberate indifference
(Count 2) against correctional officer Wesley Monroe.
See Doc. 10. Discovery, motions, and amendments
followed. Ultimately, counsel was recruited for Plaintiff
Watts and filed a third amended complaint on his behalf.
See Doc. 99.
operative complaint is Watts' third amended complaint,
filed in January 2017. It reasserts the excessive force and
deliberate indifference claims against Monroe. It also
asserts deliberate indifference claims against five other
Defendants - Minh Scott, Dennis Young, Kim Richardson, Tammy
Harmon, and Wexford - plus claims for infliction of emotional
distress and assault and battery against some of the named
2016, the case was transferred from Judge Gilbert to the
undersigned District Judge via Administrative Order No. 188.
Now before the Court is a motion to dismiss portions of the
third amended complaint for failure to state a claim (Doc.
103) and an exhaustion-based summary judgment motion (Doc.
105). Both motions were filed by Defendants Richardson,
Harmon, and Wexford (collectively, “the Wexford
Defendants”). As explained below, the Court grants the
dismissal motion as to Count III, denies the dismissal motion
as to Count IV, and denies the summary judgment motion.
Summary of Key Allegations
third amended complaint alleges the following. On July 30,
2014, Watts was placed on a bus for transfer from Centralia
Correctional Center to Pinckneyville Correctional Center.
Doc. 99, ¶ 13. While en route, the bus stopped at
Lincoln Correctional Center, where Watts was to change
busses. Id. at ¶ 15. As Watts waited in
handcuffs to board the bus headed to Pinckneyville, Defendant
Wesley Monroe “grabbed plaintiff by the neck and
slammed his face into the front of the bus and then dragged
him in between two buses, while threatening to do further
harm to plaintiff.” Id. at ¶ 16. During
the altercation Watts injured his right eye. Id. at
¶ 18. Defendants Minh Scott and Dennis Young (both
correctional officers) observed the altercation but failed to
intervene. Id. at ¶ 21. After arriving at
Pinckneyville Correctional Center, Nurses Kim Richardson and
Tammy Harmon examined Watts but declined to provide
treatment. Id. at ¶ 27. Watts was examined by
an optometrist one week later, but he continues to experience
discomfort and impaired vision in his right eye. Id.
Applicable Legal Standards
Motions to Dismiss
12(b)(6) governs motions to dismiss for failure to state a
claim on which relief can be granted. The purpose of a Rule
12(b)(6) motion is to test the legal sufficiency of a
complaint. See Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635,
637 (7th Cir. 2012); McReynolds v. Merrill
Lynch & Co., 694 F.3d 873, 878 (7th Cir. 2012). A
complaint must state a claim that is facially plausible.
Vinson v. Vermilion County, Il., 776 F.3d 924, 928
(7th Cir. 2015). To avoid Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal,
it must contain “enough facts to state a claim for
relief that is plausible on its face.” Scott v.
Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., 725 F.3d 772, 782
(7th Cir. 2013), quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Accord Foster v.
Principal Life Ins. Co., 806 F.3d 967, 971
(7th Cir. 2015).
is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” D.B. ex rel. Kurtis B. v. Kopp, 725
F.3d 681, 684 (7th Cir. 2013), quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
complaint must “go beyond mere labels and
conclusions” and contain “enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.” G&S
Holdings, LLC v. Continental Cas. Co., 697 F.3d 534,
537-38 (7thCir. 2012).
assessing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the district court
construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, “accepting as true all well-pleaded facts
alleged, and drawing all possible inferences in her
favor.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d
575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009), cert. denied,
558 U.S. 1148 (2010), quoting Tamayo v. Blagoyevich,
526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).
12(b)(6) motions must be decided based on the pleadings, the
materials attached thereto, and documents referred to in the
complaint and central to the plaintiff's claim or subject
to proper judicial notice. If matters outside the pleadings
are presented to and considered by the court, the motion
should be converted to a summary judgment motion, with notice
given and additional briefing permitted. See Rogers v.
Cartage Co., 794 F.3d 854, 861 (7th Cir. 2015);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Brownmark Films, LLC v. Comedy
Partners, 682 F.3d 687, 690 (7th Cir. 2012);
Geinosky v. City of Chicago, 675 F.3d 743, 751 n.1
(7th Cir. 2012). B.Motions for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is proper only if the admissible evidence
considered as a whole shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Dynegy Mktg. & Trade v.
Multi Corp., 648 F.3d 506, 517 (7th Cir. 2011),
citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
showing --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). After a properly supported motion
for summary judgment is made, the adverse party “must
set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986), quoting Fed R.
Civ. P. 56(e)(2). A fact is material if it is outcome
determinative under applicable law. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248; Ballance v. City of Springfield, Ill. Police
Dep't, 424 F.3d 614, 616 (7th Cir. 2005);
Hottenroth v. Village of Slinger, 388 F.3d 1015,
1027 (7th Cir. 2004). A genuine issue of material fact exists
if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
summary judgment, the district court construes the facts and
draws the reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving
party. Cole v. Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois
University,838 F.3d 888, 895 (7th Cir.
2016). While generally a district court's role on summary
judgment is not to evaluate the weight of the
evidence, assess witness credibility, or determine the truth
of the matter, but only to determine whether a general issue
of triable fact exists, a different standard applies to
summary judgment ...