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Garcia v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 25, 2018

BRIAN GARCIA, Plaintiff,



         I. Introduction

         Brian Garcia (Plaintiff), currently an inmate at Lawrence Correctional Center (Lawrence), filed a pro se complaint in the above-captioned case, alleging violations of his federally-secured civil rights while incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (Pinckneyville). Now before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Dr. Vipin Shah (Doc. 24). Defendant John Baldwin moves to join in Shah's motion. Defendant Baldwin's motion to join (Doc. 27) is GRANTED, and the Court treats the summary judgment motion and supporting brief as filed by both Defendants.

         Defendants seek summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Plaintiff failed to respond to the summary judgment motion, and the time to respond has long passed. The motion is ripe for disposition. As explained below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion for summary judgment.

         II. Procedural Background and Summary of Key Facts/Allegations

         A preliminary note is warranted about the consequences of Plaintiff's failure to respond to the summary judgment motion. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) affords federal district courts a certain amount of discretion when a responding party fails to properly address facts raised in the moving party's motion for summary judgment. Available options, inter alia, include giving the opposing party an opportunity to address the facts as stated by the movant, considering the facts undisputed, or issuing “any other appropriate order.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Although the undersigned typically considers uncontested facts as undisputed, here the Court finds portions of Plaintiff's complaint and attached records, exhibits helpful in understanding the steps taken by Plaintiff to exhaust his administrative remedies. Therefore, while the Court considers most of the facts set forth by Defendants as undisputed, it exercises discretion under Rule 56(e) to rely upon certain aspects of Plaintiff's complaint and supporting documentation to fill in gaps in Defendants' record.

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on July 20, 2016. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff has been a quadriplegic since 1995 and is dependent on a wheelchair. (Doc. 7, p. 2). His hands, torso, and lower body are paralyzed, and he has partial paralysis of his arms. (Id.). Beginning in 2012, Plaintiff was permanently housed in the Pinckneyville infirmary. After a disciplinary incident in June 2015, he was moved to an ADA cell - i.e., a cell compliant with the Americans with Disability Act, 42 U.S.C. 12132, et seq. -- in the disciplinary segregation unit. (Id. at 2 - 3).

         Plaintiff alleges Eighth Amendment violations against Defendant Shah for failing to take measures to meet Plaintiff's medical needs (e.g., treatment for ulcers, a transfer board, and assistance with bowel hygiene) while he was housed in segregation cells from June to August 2015, and for delaying and/or failing to provide medical care for a hip fracture suffered when Plaintiff fell off his bunk in the ADA cell on August 8, 2015.[1](Id. at 4, 6). Plaintiff also raises Eighth Amendment and ADA claims against Defendant Baldwin (Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections), seeking injunctive relief to prevent Plaintiff's future placement in a disciplinary housing unit unless he is provided the same accommodations and medical care access he would get in the prison infirmary. (Id.).

         Plaintiff prepared a grievance regarding his issues with the segregation cell on August 2, 2015. (Doc. 25-2, p. 7). In the grievance, Plaintiff detailed that he is a quadriplegic, and that after living in the prison's infirmary since August 2012, he was moved to a segregation cell in general population on June 28, 2015. (Id.). Plaintiff also wrote that the cells he was housed in were not fit for a person with his level of dependency and that he was suffering from multiple pressure ulcers due to the neglect of medical staff. (Id.). He indicated that he had no assistance for bowel movements, and that he soiled himself daily. (Id.). For the relief requested, Plaintiff sought immediate transfer to the infirmary, a discontinuation of his disciplinary confinement in segregation, and a transfer to Dixon Correctional Center, where he could receive more adequate care. (Id.).

         The August 2, 2015 grievance was sent as an emergency grievance and was deemed to be an emergency by the warden on August 10, 2015. (Id.). A note in the space for the counselor's response dated August 15, 2015, says that the issue was addressed and the inmate was moved to the healthcare unit on August 11th. (Id.). In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that after receiving the counselor's response, on August 15th, he sent the grievance to the grievance officer. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         The grievance was denied by the grievance officer the same day, indicating that the issue had already been addressed and that there was no justification for further consideration. (Doc. 25-2, p. 9). The denial was sent in a memo from the grievance officer to Plaintiff. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that the grievance was not sent to the warden. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Though it is not clear exactly when, the grievance was sent to the Administrative Review Board (ARB) and was received by the ARB on November 4, 2015. (Doc. 25-2, p. 7). The ARB returned the grievance on November 16, 2015, indicating it was untimely. (Id. at 6).

         Plaintiff prepared another grievance on March 21, 2016. (Id. at 4). He again grieved being placed in the segregation cell in the summer of 2015. (Id.). He also referenced his broken hip, stating that he went “multiple days without medical treatment [for] a severe broken hip.” (Id.). By the time Plaintiff prepared this grievance, he had been transferred from Pinckneyville to Lawrence. (Id.). The counselor indicated that the grievance was outside the jurisdiction of the facility and should be sent to the ARB. (Id.). The ARB received the grievance on May 18, 2016 and responded on June 22, 2016. (Id. at 3). The ARB indicated that the grievance was untimely and that it was misdirected. (Id.). The ARB instructed Plaintiff to contact the healthcare unit regarding his hip pain. (Id.). The records contain only two other grievances by Plaintiff. (Id. at 2). Both of these grievances were prepared prior to Plaintiff's transfer to segregation in June 2015 and are not relevant here. (Id. at 2, 11).

         III. Applicable Legal Standards

         A. Summary ...

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