United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Herndon Judge United States District Judge
se Plaintiff Avery Singleton, a state inmate, brought
the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging Defendant Dr. Shah violated Plaintiff's Eighth
Amendment rights for refusing to examine Plaintiff's
knees, back, and neck despite Plaintiff's complaints of
severe pain. This matter is before the Court on Defendant
Shah's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 36). Defendant
Shah asserts that summary judgment should be granted since
Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies,
which federal law requires a prisoner to do prior to filing a
suit of this nature. Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Dismiss
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 41), which
the Court construes as a response in opposition. Since
Defendant has failed to meet his burden on summary judgment,
the motion is DENIED.
specifics of the allegations Plaintiff raises in his
Complaint are less significant for these purposes than are
allegations surrounding the grievance process. It is
sufficient to say that Plaintiff alleges that in August 2016,
while incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center
(“Robinson”), the prison's physician,
Defendant Dr. Shah, refused to examine Plaintiff, though
Plaintiff had complained of neck, back, and knee pain. (Doc.
7, p. 3). On October 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a prison
grievance against Dr. Shah. (Doc. 37-2, p. 3). In that
grievance, Plaintiff describes visits with Dr. Shah wherein
the doctor refused to examine his neck, back, and knee pain.
(Id. at 3 - 4). This grievance was checked as an
emergency and sent to Robinson's warden. (Id. at
3). The warden denied the grievance emergency status.
(Id.). Plaintiff then sent the grievance to his
counselor, who received it on October 26, 2016, and the
counselor issued a response on the same date.
grievance was then received by Robinson's grievance
officer on November 14, 2016, and the officer reviewed it the
next day. (Id. at 2). The grievance officer
recommended the grievance be denied, and the warden concurred
on November 17, 2016. (Id.).
sent the grievance to the Illinois Department of
Corrections' (“IDOC”) Administrative Review
Board (“ARB”), and the grievance was received
there on December 20, 2016. (Id. at 1, 2). The ARB
did not address the grievance, claiming it was untimely, as
it was received after 30 days from the date the warden signed
his concurrence. (Id. at 1). According to Plaintiff
in his response, he submitted the grievance on December 16,
2016. (Doc. 41, p. 3). The signature and date line on the
part of the grievance response where an inmate signs and
dates an appeal to the ARB is blank. (Doc. 37-2, p. 2).
Legal Standard a. Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate only if the admissible evidence
considered as a whole shows there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Archdiocese of Milwaukee v. Doe, 743
F.3d 1101, 1105 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)).
The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden
of demonstrating - based on the pleadings, affidavits and/or
information obtained via discovery - the lack of any genuine
issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact
remains “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). Accord Bunn v. Khoury Enterpr. Inc., 753
F.3d 676 (7th Cir. 2014).
assessing 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.
Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir.
2012); Righi v. SMC Corp. , 632 F.3d 404, 408 (7th
Cir. 2011); Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899
(7th Cir. 2011). As the Seventh Circuit has explained, as
required by Rule 56(a), “we set forth the facts by
examining the evidence in the light reasonably most favorable
to the non-moving party, giving [him] the benefit of
reasonable, favorable inferences and resolving conflicts in
the evidence in [his] favor.” Spaine v. Community
Contacts, Inc., 756 F.3d 542 (7th Cir. 2014).
Motion for Summary Judgment based upon failure to exhaust
administrative remedies, however, typically requires a
hearing to determine any contested issues regarding
exhaustion, and a judge may make limited findings of fact at
that time. Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th
Cir. 2008). The case may proceed on the merits only after any
contested issue of exhaustion is resolved. Pavey,
544 F.3d at 742. While generally, the Court's role on
summary judgment is not to evaluate the weight of the
evidence, judge witness credibility, or determine the truth
of the matter, but to determine whether a general issue of
triable fact exists, a different standard applies to summary
judgment on the issue of exhaustion. Nat'l Athletic
Sportwear Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co., 528 F.3d 508, 512
(7th Cir. 2008). In Pavey, the Seventh Circuit held
that “debatable factual issues relating to the defense
of failure to exhaust administrative remedies” are not
required to be decided by a jury but are to be determined by
the judge. Pavey, 544 F.3d at 740-41. Here, the
question of exhaustion is a purely legal question, and no
hearing is required.
PLRA's Exhaustion Requirement
affirmative defense of failure to exhaust depends on whether
a plaintiff has fulfilled the PLRA's exhaustion
requirement, which in turn depends on the prison grievance
procedures set forth by the Illinois Department of
Corrections. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218
PLRA provides that “no action shall be brought [under
federal law] with respect to prison conditions…by a
prisoner…until such administrative remedies as are
available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Under the PLRA, exhaustion of administrative remedies is
mandatory, and unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.
Jones, 549 U.S. at 211. The case may ...