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Allen v. Hardy

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 4, 2017




         Before the Court is Defendant Dr. Phyllis Tolley's (“Dr. Tolley”) motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 against Plaintiff James Earl Allen (“Allen”). For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.


         The following facts taken from the record are undisputed, except where otherwise noted. On or around February 27, 2011, Allen was involved in an altercation with his then cellmate, Eugene Logan (“Logan”), at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). According to Allen, this incident caused him to have continued fears and anxiety over another attack. In response to his fears, Allen sought mental health treatment at Stateville beginning in September of 2011. After an initial evaluation, Allen was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. During the relevant time period, there were two psychologists on staff at Stateville, Dr. Tolley and former Defendant, Dr. Charles Woods (“Dr. Woods”). Dr. Tolley and Dr. Woods divided inmate cases based on the inmate's last name. Woods examined inmates whose first letter of their last name fell in the first half of the alphabet, while Dr. Tolley examined inmates whose first letter of their last name fell in the second half of the alphabet. Therefore, Dr. Woods and psychiatrist, Jonathan Kelly, (“Dr. Kelly”) managed Allen's treatment.

         Allen contends that during the fall of 2011 he wrote several letters directed to the Mental Health Unit and Dr. Tolley[1] requesting a designation of “vulnerable status.” Vulnerable status is a mental health designation of an inmate who is deemed vulnerable to attack or being taken advantage of by predatory inmates. A mental health professional uses several different factors when assessing an inmate for vulnerable status, including: physical stature, the types of crime an inmate was incarcerated for, disciplinary history, sexual orientation, mental health history, and current medical condition. Inmates designated as “vulnerable” are either assigned in a single-cell, [2] or are housed with inmates who are also designated with “vulnerable status.” According to Allen, Dr. Tolley ignored his repeated requests to be evaluated for vulnerable status.

         On or about November 21, 2011, Stateville inmate, Brodie Young (“Young”), moved into Allen's cell. Allen did not know Young before they became cellmates. During their time as cellmates Young never directed any threats at Allen. However, on November 25, 2011, Allen contends he filed a request to be transferred from the cell he shared with Young due to Young's odd behavior and gang affiliation. On December 1, 2011, Allen claims he wrote to correction officials asking to speak with them about Young. On December 3, 2011, Young allegedly assaulted Allen while he was asleep. Allen claims he suffered injuries to his eye and face due to the attack resulting in hospitalization and fourteen stitches on his face.

         In response to the alleged assault, Allen brought this lawsuit against Dr. Tolley, Marcus Hardy (“Hardy”), Ralph Burkybile (“Burkybile”), Ed Butklewicz (“Butklewicz”), Ada Johnson (“Johnson”), Frances Shievers (“Shievers”), and Dr. Woods alleging failure to protect (Counts I and II), and deliberate indifference to a serious medical need (Count III). On August 8, 2016, all parties except for Dr. Tolley reached a settlement with Allen. Dr. Tolley now moves for, and this Court grants, summary judgment on Counts II and III.


         A motion for summary judgment requires the Court to construe all facts and to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact arises where a reasonable jury could find, based on the evidence of record, in favor of the non-movant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court considers the whole record. See Id. at 255-56.

         Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 requires the “party moving for summary judgment to include with the motion ‘a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitles the moving party to a judgement as a matter of law.'” Ammons v. Aramark Unif. Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(a)(3)). “The movant bears the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists.” Genova v. Kellogg, 2015 WL 3930351, at *3 (N.D. Ill. June 25, 2015). “The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues on which the movant bears the burden of proof at trial.” Id. The non-moving party must respond to the movant's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement and may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits. N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(b); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The non-movant must support her contentions with documentary evidence of specific facts that demonstrate that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.


         I. Failure to Exhaust

         To give corrections officials an opportunity to address complaints internally before a federal suit is initiated, prisoners must exhaust their administrative remedies. 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)(a) (the “PLRA”); Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002). Accordingly, a plaintiff must pursue all administrative remedies no matter what relief is sought, including monetary damages. Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002). The exhaustion requirement applies to deliberate indifference claims. Porter at 532. To exhaust administrative remedies, a prisoner “must file complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison's administrative rules require.” Id. at 1025.

         Illinois has created a three-step administrative process for inmates to follow. Step one requires the prisoner to “first attempt to resolve incidents, problems, or complaints ... through his ... counselor.” See Ill. Admin. Code, Title 20, § 504.810(a). If the inmate is unable to resolve his problem through his counselor, the inmate must proceed to step two, which requires him to “file a written grievance on a grievance form ... within 60 days after the discovery of the incident” which must be addressed to the “Grievance Officer” and “shall contain factual details ... including what happened, when, where, and the name of each person who was the subject of or who is otherwise involved in the complaint.” See Ill. Admin. Code, Title 20, § 504.810(a), (b). The grievance officer and the chief administrative officer then consider properly submitted grievances. Id.; § 504.830(d). If the inmate is unsatisfied with the chief administrative officer's resolution, the inmate “may appeal in writing to the director within 30 days after the date of the decision.” Id., ยง 504.850(a). If the director determines ...

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