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Mooree v. Bowles

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 6, 2019

ANTERRIAN MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
DUSTIN BOWLES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL Chief U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Anterrian Moore, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), alleges that Defendant Dustin Bowles was deliberately indifferent due to his failure to protect Moore from an attack by his cell mate. According to Bowles, Moore's claim cannot proceed because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on December 4, 2019.

         Findings of Fact

         Moore was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”) during the alleged incident. On May 1, 2018, Moore notified a correctional officer (”CO”) that his cellmate was threatening to strangle him in his sleep using a cable cord (Doc. 1, p. 6). The CO reported these threats to his superior, who arranged for a meeting with internal affairs (“IA”) the same day. Id. Moore claims that IA Officer Dustin Bowles offered him two options: he could refuse housing, which would result in a new cell assignment after punishment with segregation for a disciplinary violation; or he could sign a release stating that he did not fear for his safety and go back to his cell. Id. To avoid segregation and his personal items being mishandled, Moore states he reluctantly chose the latter option and was attacked by his cellmate on May 29, 2018, after a disagreement regarding catching their cell door. Id. at 6-7. Moore says he sustained “minor” scrapes and bruises and a “major” back injury during the scuffle, for which he was denied timely treatment by “healthcare.” Moore asserts the entire incident could have been avoided if he was reassigned to a new cell in when he requested. Id. at 6-8.

         In November 2018, Bowles filed a motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies (Doc. 48). In that motion, Bowles submitted an affidavit from Chalene Hale, a grievance officer, who searched Pinckneyville's records for grievances submitted by Moore in 2018 against Bowles involving Moore's cell placement or safety concerns about Moore's cellmate (Declaration of Chalene Hale, Doc. 49-1). She found one emergency grievance dated June 7, 2018, which was deemed a non-emergency by the Chief Administrative Officer (“CAO”) and returned to Moore. Moore included this denied emergency grievance in his response (Doc. 55, pp. 6-7).

         Bowles also submitted an affidavit from Sarah Johnson, a chairperson for the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”), who searched the ARB's records for grievances submitted by Moore in 2018 against Bowles involving Moore's cell placement or safety concerns about Moore's cellmate. (Declaration of Sarah Johnson, Doc. 49-2). She found one directly appealed grievance to the ARB dated June 7, 2018, concerning an incident with Moore's cellmate. Id. The grievance was received on June 18, 2018, but included no facility response and was consequently denied. Id. Moore further requested a response from the ARB in December 2018, and the ARB replied referencing their earlier denial. Id. Moore included the ARB Return of Grievance Form along with the returned grievance in his response (Doc. 55, p. 5). Johnson also testified to the same facts as her affidavit during the hearing.

         In his response to Bowles's motion, Moore admits receiving his returned emergency grievance (Doc. 55, p. 1).He claims that after receiving that response, he made copies of the grievance and resubmitted it through the “normal grievance process.” Id. at 2. Moore then states almost a year later, on May 9, 2019, having received no response regarding his grievance, he sent Assistant Attorney General Jeanine Armstrong a copy of the grievance with a letter claiming that he resubmitted the grievance as advised by the CAO and to the ARB and did not receive a response. Id. After waiting six months for a response, he then wrote a letter to ARB, which responded, stating that his grievance was returned in June 2018. (Doc. 55, p. 1, 11). Moore claims that he did attempt to exhaust all his available remedies, and hints that the grievance process was unavailable to him. He also claims that ARB's response to his letter was deficient because it was not a “formal response.” Moore also testified during the hearing, stating that when his emergency grievance was rejected by the CAO, he sent the same grievance to his counselor through the mailbox and to the ARB.

         Legal Standards

         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is proper only where the moving party can demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005). All facts and reasonable inferences must be construed in favor of the non-moving party. Blow v. Bijora, Inc., 855 F.3d 793, 797 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Calumet River Fleeting, Inc. v. Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, Local 150, AFL-CIO, 824 F.3d 645, 647-48 (7th Cir. 2016)).

         B. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires prisoners to exhaust all administrative remedies before bringing suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 808 (7th Cir. 2006). Proper exhaustion requires an inmate to “file complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time, 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 is required to file a written grievance within 60 days of the “incident, occurrence or problem that gives rise to the grievance.” 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.810(a). The grievance must be filed with the inmate's counselor, unless certain discrete issues are being grieved. Id. If the complaint is not resolved through a counselor, the grievance is considered by a grievance officer who must render a written recommendation to the CAO (usually the Warden) within two months of receipt, “when reasonably feasible under the circumstances.” Id. at § 504.830(e). The Warden then advises the inmate of a decision on the grievance. Id.

         An inmate may also file an emergency grievance that is forwarded directly to the Warden. Id. at § 504.840. If “there is a substantial risk of imminent personal injury or other serious or irreparable harm to the offender, ” consideration of the grievance will be expedited. Id. at § 504.840(a) and (b). An inmate may appeal the Warden's decision to the IDOC Director. Id. at § 504.850(a). The appeal must be in writing, must be directed to the ARB, and must be received by the ARB within 30 days of the date of the Warden's response. See also Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 806-07 (7th Cir. 2006). The ARB will submit a written report of ...


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