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Owens v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 22, 2018

JAMES OWENS, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN LAMB, et al., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff James Owens, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Defendants denied him adequate medical care for left hip and leg pain. Following threshold screening, Plaintiff proceeds on one Count of deliberate indifference against Defendants Warden Lamb, Lt. McArthy, Dr. John Coe, and a Jane Doe nurse (Doc. 5).

         This matter is now before the Court on Defendant Coe's Motion for Summary Judgment Based on Exhaustion (Doc. 27). Plaintiff filed a timely Response (Doc. 39). Coe asserts that Owens did not follow proper grievance procedures and therefore failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Owens attaches a grievance dated October 31, 2015, and argues that this emergency grievance exhausted his administrative remedies. For the following reasons, Defendant Coe's motion is GRANTED.

         Factual Background

         According to Owens' October 31, 2015 grievance, on October 24, 2015, he woke up with pain in his left hip and put in a request for medication to the HCU (Doc. 39 at 2). Two days later, his hip was extremely sore and he sent a request for emergency medical care to Dr. Coe (Id.). He sent Dr. Coe another request for emergency treatment and a request to the HCU for interim pain medication on October 27, 2015. (Id.). He made additional requests to Dr. Coe on October 28, 2015 and October 29, 2015. Owens was not seen by anyone in HCU until October 30, 2015 when the nurse checked his vitals and gave him a shot ordered by Dr. Coe (Id.).

         Owens was not seen by Dr. Coe anytime between October 24, 2015 and his filing the grievance on October 31, 2015 (Id.). The relief Owens requested in his emergency grievance was medical care for his pain. The Chief Administrative Officer denied the grievance as an emergency on November 3, 2015 and checked the box stating that Owens should submit his grievance in the normal manner (Id.).

         On November 25, 2015, the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) received a copy of the October 31, 2015 grievance with the CAO's emergency review (along with two other grievances). The ARB returned the October 31, 2015 grievance to Owens because he failed to attach a copy of the Counselor's Response and the Grievance Officer's Response as required. There is no further documentation concerning the October 31, 2015 grievance.

         After a careful review of the arguments and evidence set forth in the parties' briefs regarding the issue of exhaustion, the Court determined that an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008) is not necessary.

         Discussion

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party can demonstrate “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); 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). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

         Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party “must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863 F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). When deciding a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), inmates are required to exhaust available administrative remedies before filing lawsuits in federal court. “[A] suit filed by a prisoner before administrative remedies have been exhausted must be dismissed; the district court lacks discretion to resolve the claim on the merits, even if the prisoner exhausts intra-prison remedies before judgment.” Perez v. Wisconsin Dep't of Corr., 182 F.3d 532, 535 (7th Cir. 1999). “[A]ll dismissals under § 1997e(a) should be without prejudice.” Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 401 (7th Cir. 2004).

         An inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections must first submit a written grievance within 60 days after the discovery of the incident, occurrence or problem, to his or her institutional counselor, unless certain discrete issues are being grieved. 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.810(a). If the complaint is not resolved through a counselor, the grievance is considered by a Grievance Officer who must render a written recommendation to the Chief Administrative Officer - usually the Warden - within 2 months of receipt, “when reasonably feasible under the circumstances.” Id. §504.830(e). The CAO then advises the inmate of a decision on the grievance. Id.

         An inmate may appeal the decision of the Chief Administrative Officer in writing within 30 days to the Administrative Review Board for a final decision. Id. §504.850(a); see also Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 806-07 (7th Cir. 2006). The ARB will submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Director who shall review the same and make a ...


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