United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) of United States Magistrate Judge
Reona J. Daly (Doc. 139), recommending the granting of
Defendant Susan Kirk's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
110). Plaintiff filed a timely objection (Doc. 142). For the
following reasons, Judge Daly’s Report and
Recommendation is ADOPTED.
VanDaire Knox, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), filed this
lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated
while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center
("Menard"). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges
Defendant Kirk was deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment by ignoring
his requests for assistance in obtaining a brace for his left
knee. Kirk moved for summary judgment, asserting that
Plaintiff's claims against her are barred due to his
settlement in a previous case, Knox v. Shearing, et
Report, Judge Daly notes that Plaintiff signed a
“Release of All Claims and Indemnity Agreement”
("the Release") on March 17, 2017 which released
any liability regarding medical treatment Plaintiff received
for his left knee at Menard up to the date of the Release.
Judge Daly found that the Release effectively discharged Kirk
from Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim in this
action and accordingly, concluded that Kirk is entitled to
a timely objection was filed, the undersigned must undertake
a de novo review of Judge Daly’s 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
district judge to “give fresh consideration to those
issues to which specific objections have been made” and
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.
objects to Judge Daly's conclusion that his claims
against Defendant Kirk are barred by the Release.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges the Release was given solely
for his claims against the defendants named in the settlement
and that Kirk was not a party to the previous settlement.
"A release is a contract wherein a party relinquishes a
claim to a person against whom the claim exists, and a
release is subject to the rules governing the construction of
contracts." Carona v. Ill. Cent. Gulf R. Co.,
561 N.E.2d 239, 242 (5th Dist. 1990). Under Illinois law, the
Court "must interpret the words of the contract with
their common and generally accepted meanings" and must
construe the words of the contract "within the context
of the contract as a whole." William Blair & Co.
v. FI Liquidation Corp., 830 N.E.2d 760, 770 (1st Dist.
2005) (internal citations omitted). To be enforceable, the
terms of a contract must be clear, certain and free from
ambiguity and doubt. Rakowski v. Lucente, 472 N.E.2d
791, 794 (1984). Where the terms of a release are clear and
explicit, the Court must enforce them as written.
the terms of the Release are unambiguous. The Release defines
"Released Parties" as Wexford Health Sources, Inc.,
and its agents (actual or apparent), servants, employees,
affiliated independent contractors, and nurses. Plaintiff
agreed to waive his claims and release the Released Parties
from any liability regarding medical treatment Plaintiff
received for his left knee at Menard up to the date of the
Agreement (March 2017). Although Defendant Kirk was not a
party to the 2017 settlement, she is a nurse employed by
Wexford who provided medical treatment for Plaintiffs left
knee during the period covered by the Release. As such, she
is a "Released Party" under the terms of the
thoroughly reviewing the record before it, the Court finds
Judge Daly's factual findings and analysis to be thorough
and accurate and ADOPTS her Report and
Recommendation (Doc. 139) in its entirety. Accordingly,
Defendant Kirk's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 109)
is GRANTED. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to enter judgment accordingly at
the close of this case.