United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a prisoner civil-rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Before the Court is Magistrate Judge Mark A. Beatty's
Report and Recommendation (R&R). (ECF No. 48). Magistrate
Judge Beatty recommends that this Court grant Defendants
David Nichols and Michael Kempf's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 18). Plaintiff objected. (ECF No. 50). The
Court reviewed the R&R de novo and agrees with Magistrate
PROCEDURAL & FACTUAL HISTORY
April 2018, the Court conducted a preliminary review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. (ECF No. 1).
The case was severed, and Plaintiff Antrell Teen proceeded in
this action with the following two claims: (1) “First
Amendment retaliation against Defendant Nichols for opening
and reading Plaintiff's legal mail, after Plaintiff
attempted to file case(s) in court while Plaintiff was housed
on AB-Block” (Count 4); and (2) “First Amendment
retaliation claim, against Defendants Kempf and Nichols for
allowing a mentally ill detainee to remain improperly house
in L-Block in February 2018, resulting in injury to
Plaintiff” (Count 10). (ECF No. 48 at 1-2).
motioned for summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, a
pre-requisite to suit. In response to Defendants' Motion,
Plaintiff conceded that he failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies with respect to Count 4. (ECF No. 27
at 1). Plaintiff also conceded in a separate filing that he
“did not exhaust the administrative remedies prior to
filing this suit.” (ECF No. 17). However, Plaintiff
argued that the latter filing referred only to Count 4.
Plaintiff also suggested that he did not know that the case
was proceeding on both counts. Magistrate Judge Beatty
conducted an evidentiary hearing and heard testimony from
three witnesses that described the complaint procedure. Based
on this information, Magistrate Judge Beatty recommends that
the Court grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
on both counts. (ECF No. 48).
LAW & ANALYSIS
Court may accept, reject, or modify-in whole or in part-the
findings or recommendations of a magistrate judge in a
R&R. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The Court must review de novo
the portions of the R&R to which objections are made.
judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed
R. Civ. P. 56(a). A “genuine dispute” exists when
a rational factfinder, considering the evidence in the
summary judgment record, could find in favor of the
non-moving party. See Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S.
557, 587 (2009). Accordingly, a dispute is genuine where
there is a real basis for it in the evidentiary record. A
genuine dispute is not created by simply positing a factual
scenario that is plainly contradicted by the summary judgment
record. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
The moving party can meet is burden by pointing out for the
Court an absence of evidence in support of the non-moving
party's claims. Spierer v. Rossman, 798 F.3d
502, 508 (7th Cir. 2015). Conversely, the non-moving party is
not saved by mere allegations or denials. Clapper v.
Amnesty Int'l USA, 568 U.S. 398, 411-12 (2013).
the Court may not weight the evidence to resolve factual
disputes or make credibility determinations; it must only
determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.
Hasan v. Foley & Lardner LLP, 552 F.3d 520, 526
(7th Cir. 2008). That rule, however, does not apply in
prisoner cases where exhaustion is contested, and the Court
may conduct a hearing to determine whether exhaustion
occurred or whether it is excused. Pavey v. Conley,
544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008); see also 42
U.S.C. §1997e(a) (prohibiting prisoners from filing suit
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 “until such administrative
remedies as are available are exhausted”).
does not object to Magistrate Judge Beatty's
recommendation that the Court grant summary judgment with
respect to Count 4. Rather, Plaintiff contends that his
initial concession that he failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies referred only to Count 4-not Count
10. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that his failure to
exhaust with respect to Count 10 should be excused because
his attempts to file an administrative complaint were
frustrated by jail officials. Magistrate Judge Beatty
conducted an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Pavey
and determined that Plaintiff's arguments lacked merit.
The Court agrees.
contention that jail officials thwarted his efforts to
exhaust his administrative remedies lacks support in the
record. During the Pavey hearing, Magistrate Judge
Beatty heard testimony from jail officials that outlined the
grievance procedure. Plaintiff acknowledges that he is aware
of the procedure but argues that “lost and vanished
complaints have prevented inmates . . . from exhausting the
administrative remedies described in the jail's
rulebook.” (ECF No. 50 at 2). As Magistrate Judge
Beatty noted, however, Plaintiff has filed over a dozen suits
in this Court since 2018 that have survived the exhaustion
inquiry. Defendant Nichols testified that complaints are
processed “no matter how trivial.” Captain Shane
Collins also testified that Plaintiff has submitted 48
complaints. Plaintiff provides no basis for the Court to
infer that the complaint that he allegedly submitted with
respect to Count 10 was a target for mistreatment. Moreover,
Plaintiff's argument that he did not know that the case
was proceeding on Count 10 flies in the face of the record.
In recommending that the Court grant Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment, Magistrate Judge Beatty properly
weighed the evidence and made appropriate credibility
Court reviewed the R&R de novo and agrees with Magistrate
Judge Beatty. Accordingly, the Court ADOPTS
the R&R IN ITS ENTIRETY,
GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgments, and DISMISSES Defendants
WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Court ...