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Suarez v. Harrington

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 30, 2017

MIGUEL A. SUAREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN RICHARD HARRINGTON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson (Doc. 52), which recommends that the Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Exhaustion filed by Defendant Warden Richard Harrington ("Harrington") (Doc. 41) be granted. The Report and Recommendation was entered on August 21, 2017. Plaintiff Miguel A. Suarez ("Suarez") filed a timely objection to the Report and Recommendation on September 7, 2017 (Doc. 53). Harrington filed a response to Suarez's objection on September 15, 2017 (Doc. 54).

         Background

Suarez alleges in his Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 32) that he was held in segregation at the Menard Correctional Center under unsanitary conditions and on a disciplinary ticket that was ultimately expunged due to a procedural deficiency. Suarez proceeds on the following claims (Doc. 52, p. 2):

Count 1: Deliberate indifference claim against Defendants Veath and Johnson for ignoring problems with Suarez's disciplinary ticket at the hearing and sentencing Suarez to a year in segregation; and
Count 2: Conditions of confinement claim against Harrington for failing to provide Suarez with hygiene products and cleaning supplies.[1]

         The Court dismissed with prejudice Count One against Defendants Veath and Johnson on January 4, 2017 (Doc. 36). Suarez filed a Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 37), which the Court denied on July 18, 2017 (Doc. 48).

         On May 17, 2017, Harrington filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Exhaustion (Docs. 41, 42). Specifically, Harrington alleges that Suarez did not "raise the issue regarding cell conditions in the manner specified by the grievance rules . . . [and thus] has not exhausted his administrative remedies." (Doc. 42, p. 5). On June 20, 2017, Suarez filed a response opposing the Motion (Doc. 47).

         As required by Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), Magistrate Judge Wilkerson held an evidentiary hearing on Harrington's Motion on July 27, 2017 (Doc. 51). Following the Pavey hearing, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson issued the Report and Recommendation currently before the Court (Doc. 52). The Report and Recommendation accurately states the nature of the evidence presented by both sides on the issue of exhaustion, as well as the applicable law and the requirements of the administrative process.

         The Report and Recommendation

         Based upon the evidence before the Court, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson found that Suarez failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit. Despite finding it credible that Suarez submitted a grievance, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson noted that Suarez only complained to Harrington about cell conditions after Suarez had submitted the grievance. (Doc. 51, pp. 12-13). Moreover, " [Suarez's] claim against Defendant Harrington is premised on [Harrington's] failure to address the unsanitary conditions in [Suarez's] cell after being verbally advised of such conditions." (Doc. 52, p. 7). Thus, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson found that, because Suarez filed the grievance before speaking to Harrington, the grievance could not have complained of Harrington's failure to address cell conditions.

         Discussion

         Where timely objections are filed, the Court must undertake a de novo review of the Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); SDIL-LR 73.1(b); Harper v. City of Chicago Heights, 824 F.Supp. 786, 788 (N.D. 111. 1993); see also Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court "may accept, reject or modify the magistrate judge's recommended decision." Harper, 824 F.Supp. at 788. In making this determination, the Court must look at all of the evidence contained in the record and give fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objections have been made. Id. (quoting 12 Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 3076.8, at p. 55 (lsted. 1973) (1992 Pocket Part)).

         Here, Suarez filed a timely objection to the Report and Recommendation. In the objection, Suarez argues that he exhausted his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act by "filing the grievance complaining about the unsanitary segregation cell conditions in June or July, 2013 and then talking to [Harrington] about said grievance." (Doc. 53, p. 1). Suarez further alleges ...


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