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Bradley v. Siddiqui

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 21, 2019




         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pro se Plaintiff Deandre Bradley filed his Complaint against Dr. Mohammed Siddiqui for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Specifically, Bradley alleges that Dr. Siddiqui denied him mental health treatment from August 21, 2018 to January 1, 2019 and refused to remove a paperclip from Bradley's chest, which Bradley inserted on December 31, 2018 (Doc. 6). Defendant Frank Lawrence was added to the case for purposes of implementing injunctive relief.

         This matter is now before the Court on Dr. Siddiqui's motion for summary judgment for Bradley's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies (Docs. 41 and 42). Bradley filed a response (Doc. 44) in opposition to the motion, and Dr. Siddiqui filed a reply brief (Doc. 45). The Court held a hearing on the motion on October 18, 2019.


         The issue raised by Dr. Siddiqui is whether Bradley failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit. Bradley filed his Complaint on January 7, 2019 (Doc. 1). He submitted three grievances related to the claims in his Complaint. The first grievance, dated September 17, 2018, complained that Bradley was not being seen by mental health staff (Doc. 42-2, p. 9). Bradley was in segregation at the time, and Bradley complained that he was not being let out of his cell for group therapy and requested that mental health release him from segregation (Id. at p. 9). In response to the grievance, Bradley's counselor attached a response from Dr. Goldman, psych administrator, which stated that Bradley was not labeled a seriously mental ill (“SMI”) inmate and was not on the mental health caseload (Id. at p. 10). The grievance officer also indicated in its response that Bradley was not labeled as SMI until January 2019. (Id. at p. 8). The grievance does not mention Dr. Siddiqui, and Dr. Siddiqui did not respond to the grievance. The parties do not dispute that this grievance was fully exhausted, and the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) responded to the grievance on April 24, 2019. (Id. at pp. 7-10).

         Bradley submitted a second grievance related to his mental health treatment on December 5, 2018 (Doc. 42-2, p. 1). Bradley complained that a “lady” from mental health did not properly document his concerns during a mental health evaluation (Id.). Also, correctional staff were present during his evaluation, which was not proper. Bradley complained that he was not receiving proper mental health treatment and that Dr. Goldman stated Bradley was not on the mental health caseload despite Bradley having a mental illness which he identified as suicidal ideation (Id. at pp. 1-2). The grievance did not identify Dr. Siddiqui. The grievance was labeled as an emergency, but the Chief Administrative Officer found that an emergency was not substantiated (Id. at p. 1). The grievance was submitted to the counselor, who responded on January 22, 2019 (Id.). The response included a note from Dr. Levin, the mental health services director, which noted that Bradley was not on the mental health caseload and had indicated during a January 14, 2019 wellness check that he was not suicidal (Id. at p. 3). The ARB has not yet received Bradley's grievance.

         On December 31, 2018, Bradley inserted two paperclips into his chest and was seen by healthcare staff the next day. Nurses removed the first paperclip but were unable to remove the second paperclip. Dr. Siddiqui was contacted by the nursing staff, but he refused to send Bradley to an outside hospital to have the paperclip removed (Doc. 1, p. 5). Bradley wrote an emergency grievance about Dr. Siddiqui on January 1, 2019 (Doc. 42-2, p. 15). The grievance was received by the Chief Administrative Officer on January 3, 2019 (Id.). The CAO deemed the grievance an emergency. It is not clear from the records submitted when the grievance officer reviewed the grievance, but the grievance is stamped as being received by the ARB on April 8, 2019 (Id.). Bradley indicates in his response that he did not receive the grievance back from the grievance officer until March 29, 2019 (Doc. 44, p. 5).

         Bradley's Complaint was written on January 1, 2019 (Doc. 1, p. 7). It was filed on January 7, 2019, along with a motion for temporary restraining order requesting that Bradley be sent to an outside hospital to have the paperclip removed (Doc. 2). Bradley indicated in the motion that the grievance process was lengthy and that he was in need of immediate medical care because his lung may have been pierced by the paperclip (Doc. 2, p. 2). Bradley similarly argues in his response that his life was in imminent danger and that the grievance process would not be able to remedy his life-threatening condition in a timely fashion (Doc. 44, pp. 4-5). He argues there was no immediate remedy other than a preliminary injunction (Id. at p. 6). He points to the fact that his grievance was not returned to him until March 29, 2019 as evidence that the grievance process was unavailable for this emergency condition.

         Legal Standards

         Summary Judgment is proper if the pleadings, discovery materials, disclosures, and affidavits demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact such that [Defendants are] entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Wragg v. Village of Thornton, 604 F.3d 464, 467 (7th Cir. 2010). Lawsuits filed by inmates are governed by the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a). That statute states, in pertinent part, that “no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” Id. (emphasis added). The Seventh Circuit requires strict adherence to the PLRA's exhaustion requirement. Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006) (noting that ‘[t]his circuit has taken a strict compliance approach to exhaustion”). Exhaustion must occur before the suit is filed. Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 398 (7th Cir. 2004). Bradley cannot file suit and then exhaust his administrative remedies while the suit is pending. Id. Moreover, “[t]o exhaust remedies, a prisoner must file complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison administrative rules require.” Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2005). Consequently, if a prisoner fails to properly utilize a prison's grievance process, “the prison administrative authority can refuse to hear the case, and the prisoner's claim can be indefinitely unexhausted.” Dole, 438 F.3d at 809.

         Under 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 v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 740-41(7th Cir. 2008). Thus, where failure to exhaust administrative remedies is raised as an affirmative defense, the Court set forth the following recommendations:

The sequence to be followed in a case in which exhaustion is contested is therefore as follows: (1) The district judge conducts a hearing on exhaustion and permits whatever discovery relating to exhaustion he deems appropriate. (2) If the judge determines that the prisoner did not exhaust his administrative remedies, the judge will then determine whether (a) the plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and so he must go back and exhaust; (b) or, although he has no unexhausted administrative remedies, the failure to exhaust was innocent (as where prison officials prevent a prisoner from exhausting his remedies), and so he must be given another chance to exhaust (provided that there exist remedies that he will be permitted by the prison authorities to exhaust, so that he's not just being given a runaround); or (c) the failure to exhaust was the prisoner's fault, in which event the case is over. (3)If and when the judge determines that the prisoner has properly exhausted his administrative remedies, the case will proceed to pretrial discovery, and if necessary a trial, on the merits; and if there is a jury trial, the jury will make all necessary findings of fact without being bound by (or even informed of) any of the findings made by the district judge in determining that the prisoner had exhausted his administrative remedies.

Id. at 742.

         A. Illinois ...

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