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Holman. v. Larson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 17, 2017

MICHAEL D. HOLMAN, JR., Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies filed by Defendants Salvador A. Godinez and Zachary Roeckeman (Doc. 70). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         Relevant Background

         Plaintiff Michael Holman is an inmate currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”). Plaintiff filed this action on February 29, 2016 alleging violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was provided inadequate medical treatment for a scalp infection and notified prison officials of the inadequacy of the treatment, but to no avail. Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint on August 2, 2016 and is currently proceeding on an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Defendants Dr. Larson, Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Warden Roeckeman, and IDOC Director Salvador Godinez.

         Defendants Roeckeman and Godinez filed a motion for summary judgment arguing Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit (Doc. 70). In support of their motion, defendants rely on records obtained from the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) asserting it only received two grievances from Plaintiff (dated July 18, 2015 and June 28, 2016), neither of which were adequately exhausted.

         In particular, Defendants explain that Plaintiff's July 18, 2015 grievance was received by the ARB on July 27, 2015 and was returned on the same date without a final decision because Plaintiff did not provide a copy of his counselor, grievance officer, or warden's response. Plaintiff was directed to provide said responses “if timely.” Defendants assert that Plaintiff resubmitted this grievance to the ARB in January, 2016 and it was again returned without a final decision because it was submitted beyond the allowable timeframe.

         With regard to the June 28, 2016 grievance, Defendants argue said grievance does not exhaust Plaintiff's claims in this matter as it was filed almost four months after this lawsuit was initiated.

         Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' motion explaining that he was delayed in resubmitting his July 18, 2015 grievance to the ARB because he was transferred to Robinson CC in August, 2015 and did not receive the ARB's response until sometime in October, 2015. Plaintiff asserts he sent the “counselor's and etc. responses” to the ARB sometime in December, 2015. Plaintiff also asserts he submitted grievances dated May 16, 2015 and June 18, 2015 to his counselor at Big Muddy, but explains it was all “to no avail.”

         Pavey Hearing

         Pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), the Court held a hearing on the issue of exhaustion on September 7, 2017. At the hearing, Plaintiff testified on his behalf concerning his efforts to submit his grievances and exhaust the administrative review process. In particular, Plaintiff explained that he submitted a grievance to his counselor on May 16, 2015 and received his counselor's response to said grievance on June 3, 2015. Plaintiff submitted a copy of this grievance to his grievance officer, but never received a response. This grievance was ultimately stamped as “Received” by the ARB on January 7, 2016; however, Defendants indicated they were unsure as to why it was not listed as a separate grievance with the ARB.

         With regard to the June 18, 2015 grievance, Plaintiff indicated that he submitted it to his counselor on June 18, 2015, but did not receive a response until July 31, 2015. Soon thereafter, in August, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”). It is not clear what happened with this grievance after Plaintiff's transfer; however, Plaintiff explained that he first received mail in October, 2015 from the ARB returning his July 18, 2015 grievance, to which he submitted his responsive documents in January, 2016. With regard to the content of his grievances, Plaintiff indicated he complained about the medical treatment he was being provided for his scalp infection, but did not specifically complain about the actions of Defendants Roeckeman and Godinez, instead relying on the fact that they are in charge of the whole system.

         Legal Standards

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). See also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc.,422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005); Black Agents & Brokers Agency, Inc. v. Near North Ins. Brokerage, Inc., 409 F.3d 833, 836 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that no material facts are in genuine dispute; any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue must be resolved against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970). See also Lawrence v. Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 841 (7th Cir. 2004). A moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law where the non-moving party “has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. “[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Id. The Seventh Circuit has stated summary judgment “is ...

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