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Street v. Els

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 16, 2019

JASON STREET, Plaintiff,
v.
DENNIS ELS, ALLAN BRUMMEL, ALFONSO DAVID, MS. LECRONE, KAREN SMOOT, K. SEIP, JEFFREY DENNISON, SHERRY BENTON, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) of United States Magistrate Judge Mark Beatty (Doc. 192), recommending that the Motion for Summary Judgment for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies filed by Defendants Sherry Benton, Jeffrey Dennison, Kendra Seip, and Karen Smoot be granted (Doc. 135). Plaintiff filed a timely objection (Doc. 195). For the following reasons, Judge Beatty's Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED.

         Background

         Plaintiff Jason Street, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), brings the instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that he has been denied adequate medical care at Shawnee for more than two years for progressive vision loss associated with a right eye cataract, glaucoma, and keratoconus. Following threshold review, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed on the following claims:

Count 1: An Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Doctor Els for denying Plaintiff adequate medical treatment for his right eye cataract and glaucoma in January 2015.
Count 2: An Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Doctors Brummel and David for ignoring the recommendation for a corneal transplant and for instead referring Plaintiff for contact lenses beginning in March 2016.
Count 3: An Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against the grievance officials (LeCrone, Smoot, Dennison, Benton, and Seip) for turning a blind eye to Plaintiff's letters and grievances seeking treatment of his cataract, glaucoma, and keratoconus.
Count 4: An Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Wexford for instituting a policy that prohibits any prisoner with “one good eye” from obtaining necessary eye surgery, resulting in the denial of adequate medical care to Plaintiff.

         Defendants Sherry Benton, Jeffrey Dennison, Kendra Seip, and Karen Smoot moved for summary judgment, claiming Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit.[1]

         Pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), Judge Beatty conducted an evidentiary hearing on Defendants' motion during which he examined three grievances Plaintiff filed related to the events subject to this lawsuit; grievances dated February 26, 2016, April 8, 2016, and December 19, 2016. Following the hearing, Judge Beatty issued the Report currently before the Court, setting forth the evidence presented by the parties on the issue of exhaustion, the applicable law, the requirements of the administrative process, and his conclusions. Judge Beatty concluded that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to the defendants in any of the three grievances, and as a result, recommended that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Sherry Benton, Jeffrey Dennison, Kendra Seip, and Karen Smoot be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

         Discussion

         Because a timely objection was filed, the undersigned must undertake a de novo review of the Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); SDIL-LR 73.1(b); see also Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). De novo review requires the Court to “give fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objections have been made” and to make a decision “based on an independent review of the evidence and arguments without giving any presumptive weight to the magistrate judge's conclusion.” Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 661 (7th Cir. 2013). The Court “may accept, reject or modify the magistrate judge's recommended decision.” Id.

         For his objection, Plaintiff generally reiterates the arguments made at the Pavey hearing and in his previous filings. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that he never received his April 8, 2016 and December 19, 2016 grievances back from his counselor and argues that it was his counselor's responsibility to transfer the grievance to the next level.

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires prisoners to exhaust all available administrative remedies before filing suit. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Proper exhaustion requires that inmates file complaints and appeals in the place, at the time, and in the manner the prison's administrative rules require. Pozo v. McCaughtry,286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002). Under the procedures set forth in the Illinois Administrative Code, an inmate must first attempt to resolve a complaint informally with his counselor. Ill. Admin. Code Tit. 20, § 504.810(a). If the complaint is not resolved, the inmate may ...


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