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Clemons v. Wexford Healthcare

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 7, 2019

FREDDIE CLEMONS N98554, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTHCARE, MS. CUNNINGHAM, C.A.O. LAMB, JOHN DOE 1 supervisor South Dietary, LT. OCHS, JOHN DOE 2 drs, and JANE DOE nurses, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Freddie Clemons is an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections who currently resides at Lincoln Correctional Center. His claims in this case arise from an incident he alleges occurred at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”) when he slipped and fell on water in the inmate food hall. The case is now before the Court for consideration of Clemons' Rule 60 Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 18), Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 16), Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) (Doc. 17), and threshold review of his Amended Complaint (Doc. 15).

         Procedural Background

         Clemons' case got off to a rocky start because he repeatedly filed disjointed and incomplete pleadings. Initially, Clemons submitted a Complaint with no signature page or demand for relief (Doc. 1). He was directed to amend the Complaint and was advised that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require an individual to make “a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief” (Doc. 6). In response, Clemons submitted a signature page and 30 pages of exhibits (Doc. 7) which the Court struck as “piecemeal” (Doc. 8). He then filed another Complaint with no signature page (Doc. 10). The Court gave Clemons a final opportunity to file a complete pleading, warning him that his failure to do so would result in his case being dismissed (Doc. 12). The deadline for Clemons to amend his Complaint came and went, and as a result, on September 14, 2018, the Court dismissed the case for Clemons' failure to comply its Orders (Docs. 13, 14).

         On November 8, 2018, Clemons filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 15), Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 16), Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 17), and a Rule 60(b) Motion to Reopen the Proceedings (Doc. 18).

         Discussion

         Rule 60(b) Motion (Doc. 18)

         Rule 60(b) permits a court to relieve a party from an Order or Judgment on the following grounds: mistake, surprise or excusable neglect by the movant; fraud or misconduct by the opposing party; a judgment that is void or has been discharged; or newly discovered evidence that could not have been discovered within the 28-day deadline for filing a Rule 59(b) motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1)-(5). There is also a catch-all provision for “any other reason that justifies relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6). Relief under Rule 60 is reserved for extraordinary circumstances.

         In his Rule 60(b) Motion, Clemons claims that his failure to timely file documents was not his fault. Specifically, he alleges that he frequently asked to be placed on the law library line so he could complete his legal matters, but did not receive needed library time. As a result, he was unable to timely comply with this Court's previous Orders. The Court finds Clemons' explanation to be credible and warranting Rule 60(b) relief. Accordingly, the Rule 60(b) Motion to Reopen the Proceedings is GRANTED and the Court will consider and review the most recently submitted Amended Complaint.

         The Amended Complaint (Doc. 15)

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se Complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(3) requires "[a] pleading that states a claim for relief [to] contain... a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief." A failure to comply with Rule 8(a)(3) can result in the dismissal of an action. See e.g., Graham v. Watson, 2016 WL 2755169, *1, *5 (S.D. Ill. 2016) (dismissing a prisoner's complaint for failure to demand specific monetary relief, and noting injunctive relief was not viable because he was not at same place of confinement as events complained of). “[W]hen a prisoner who seeks injunctive relief for a condition specific to a particular prison is transferred out of that prison, the need for relief, and hence the prisoner's claim, become moot.” Lehn v. Holmes, 364 F.3d 862, 871 (7th Cir. 2004); Higgason v. Farley, 83 F.3d 807, 811 (7th Cir. 1996). Under such circumstances, it would only be proper for the Court to consider a request for injunctive relief if the plaintiff can show a realistic possibility that he would again be housed at the prison under the conditions described in the Complaint . Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 716 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2009)).

         Clemons' Amended Complaint is 35 pages long and includes two signature pages. However, the “request for relief” portion of each of those pages was left blank. The remainder of the pleading consists of copies of grievances, [1] a sworn affidavit by other inmates, and a handwritten narrative. In essence, the handwritten narrative alleges that various individuals exhibited deliberate indifference to Clemons' serious medical needs that arose from a slip-and-fall in the chow hall. It does not, however, contain an explicit demand for relief. Clemons was previously warned by this Court that he needed to enumerate a demand for relief. Once again, he failed to do so, and thus, the Amended Complaint does not comply with Rule 8(a)(3).

         It also appears that Clemons is improperly seeking injunctive relief in the form of medical appointments with outside specialists. Clemons has been relocated from Lawrence where he allegedly slipped and fell to Lincoln Correctional Center. There is no recent grievance or information in the Amended Complaint suggesting that he needs injunctive relief to get adequate care at Lincoln. There is also no ...


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