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Kyles v. Beaugard

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

September 18, 2017

TIMOTHY KYLES, Plaintiff,
v.
FRED BEAUGARD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMY J. ST. EVE, DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         On November 30, 2016, Plaintiff Timothy Kyles, by counsel, filed a nine-count Fifth Amended Complaint against individuals employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) alleging violations of his constitutional rights, as well as state law claims, that occurred while he was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a). On June 13, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The remaining claims in this lawsuit include: (1) a First Amendment retaliation claim (Count I); (2) Eighth Amendment failure to protect claims (Counts II and III); (3) an Eighth Amendment medical care claim (Count IV); (4) an Eighth Amendment failure to intervene claim (Count V); (5) a state law intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) claim (Count VII); and (6) a policy claim styled as a Monell claim (hereinafter “policy claim”) (Count IX).

         Before the Court is Defendants’ Rule 56(a) motion for partial summary judgment based on Kyles’ alleged failure to exhaust his available administrative remedies in a timely fashion pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). In their motion, Defendants do not argue that Kyles failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to his Eighth Amendment claims alleged in Counts II through V due to the regulations promulgated pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (“PREA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 15601-15609, which do “not impose a time limit on when an inmate may submit a grievance regarding an allegation of sexual abuse.” 28 C.F.R. § 115.52(b)(1). Instead, Defendants argue that Kyles did not exhaust his First Amendment retaliation claim (Count I), his IIED claim (Count VII), and his policy claim (Count IX). Because the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement does not apply to state law claims, the Court denies Defendants’ motion in relation to Kyles’ IIED claim as alleged in Count VII. See McDaniel v. Meisner, 617 Fed. Appx. 553, 556 n.3 (7th Cir. 2015) (unpublished) (“the exhaustion requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act do not apply to state-law claims”). Therefore, the Court will discuss whether Kyles properly exhausted his First Amendment retaliation and policy claims in this ruling.

         On August 31, 2017, the Court held an evidentiary hearing under the dictates of Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008). See Wagoner v. Lemmon, 778 F.3d 586, 591 (7th Cir. 2015) (“The purpose of a Pavey hearing is to resolve disputed factual questions that bear on exhaustion, including what steps were taken and whether the futility exception might apply.”).[1]The following witnesses testified at the Pavey hearing: (1) Plaintiff Timothy Kyles; (2) Anna McBee, via video-conference, who is a correctional counselor and grievance officer at Stateville; and (3) Sherry Benton, the chairperson of IDOC’s Administrative Review Board. During the hearing, the Court had the opportunity to assess each witness’ credibility. The parties also offered numerous exhibits into evidence that the Court discusses below.

         Based on the following, Defendants have not fulfilled their burden of establishing that Kyles failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to his First Amendment retaliation claim as alleged in Count I and his policy claim in Count IX. See Pyles v. Nwaobasi, 829 F.3d 860, 869 (7th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, the Court dismisses Defendant Salvador Godinez as to Kyles’ policy claim in Count IX because he is no longer employed by IDOC and Kyles cannot obtain money damages against Defendant Godinez based on Eleventh Amendment immunity, as discussed in detail below.[2] The Court therefore grants in part and denies in part Defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         I. First Amendment Retaliation Claim

         Defendants first argue that Kyles did not exhaust his First Amendment retaliation claim as alleged in Count I of his Fifth Amended Complaint. Based on the Pavey hearing testimony and exhibits admitted into evidence, Kyles’ First Amendment retaliation claim is based on an alleged October 24, 2014 threat made by Stateville Correctional Officer Derek Jaburek, who is not a Defendant to this lawsuit. In particular, Kyles asserts that Officer Jaburek threatened him by saying he was going to place contraband in Kyles’ cell. Further, Kyles testified that immediately following this incident, he lodged a complaint about Officer Jaburek in a statement to Internal Affairs via a verbal complaint to Defendant Officer Fred Beugard. Thereafter, Kyles contends that certain Defendants issued him a false disciplinary ticket in retaliation for his complaints about Officer Jaburek. In particular, on October 25, 2014, Defendant Beaugard issued Kyles a disciplinary ticket for “intimidation or threats” and “dangerous communications.” (Hr’g. Ex. 23.) After conducting a hearing at which Kyles attended, the Adjustment Committee expunged the disciplinary ticket as unsubstantiated on November 5, 2014.

         In the interim, while Kyles awaited the hearing on the disciplinary ticket, he maintains that certain Defendants further retaliated against him by placing him in double-cell segregation with a violent general population inmate, Jorge Pena, who was affiliated with the Gangster Disciples – despite the fact of Kyles’ mental illness and his protective custody (“PC”) status related to the Gangster Disciples. While housed in double-cell segregation with Pena, Kyles asserts that Pena physically assaulted and raped him.

         II. Policy Claim

         Next, Defendants argue that Kyles has failed to exhaust his policy claim as alleged in Count IX of his Fifth Amended Complaint. As Defendants pointed out at the Pavey hearing, Kyles’ claim against IDOC, an agency of the State of Illinois, does not necessarily fit under the Monell rubric. See Will v. Michigan Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“We hold that neither a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are ‘persons’ under § 1983.”). That being said, Kyles may bring a policy claim against IDOC, keeping in mind that he cannot recover monetary damages due to Eleventh Amendment immunity, although the Eleventh Amendment does not bar his request for prospective injunctive relief. See Williams v. Wisconsin, 336 F.3d 576, 581 (7th Cir. 2003) (“Official-capacity suits against state officials seeking prospective relief are permitted by § 1983”).

         In Count IX, Kyles alleges that there is a widespread custom or practice at Stateville to double-cell PC inmates with general population inmates when they are detained during investigations and that this policy contravenes Defendants’ Eighth Amendment duty to protect. Furthermore, Kyles maintains that this policy led to his assignment with Pena, who raped and abused him while he awaited the Adjustment Committee hearing regarding his October 2014 disciplinary ticket.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         In the present motion, Defendants argue that Kyles has failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The “benefits of exhaustion … include allowing a prison to address complaints about the program it administers before being subjected to suit, reducing litigation to the extent complaints are satisfactorily resolved, and improving litigation that does occur by leading to the preparation of a useful record.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 219 (2007). More specifically:

Congress enacted § 1997e(a) to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of prisoner suits; to this purpose, Congress afforded corrections officials time and opportunity to address complaints internally before allowing the initiation of a federal case. In some instances, corrective action taken in response to an inmate’s grievance might improve prison administration and satisfy the inmate, thereby obviating the need for litigation. In other instances, the internal review might “filter out some frivolous claims.” And for cases ultimately brought to court, adjudication could be facilitated by an administrative record that clarifies the contours of the controversy.

Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002) (internal citations omitted).

         Failure to exhaust under the PLRA is an affirmative defense that Defendants must prove, see Hernandez v. Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 840 (7th Cir. 2016), because “[u]nexhausted claims are procedurally barred from consideration.” Pyles, 829 F.3d at 864; see also Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88, 93 (2006). “The PLRA does not, however, demand the impossible,” and thus, “[r]emedies that are genuinely unavailable or nonexistent need not be exhausted.” Pyles, 829 F.3d at 864; see also Weiss v. Barribeau, 853 F.3d 873, 875 (7th Cir. 2017) (“Obviously prisoners can’t be required to exhaust remedies that are unavailable to them[.]”). “A remedy becomes unavailable ‘if prison ...


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