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O'Quinn v. Lashbrook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 17, 2019

CHESTER O'QUINN, Plaintiff,
v.
JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Hon. Reona J. Daly United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Chester O'Quinn, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). On October 4, 2019, Plaintiff settled his claims with the IDOC Defendants. Plaintiff proceeds on the following claims against the remaining defendants:

Count 1: Nurse Anderton, Mrs. Mason, Amber Saathoff, Wanda Hill, and Rose Loos were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment to Plaintiff's conditions of confinement while on suicide watch.
Count 5: Laura Barron, Nurse Alyssa Wright, Mrs. Mason, Amber Saathoff, Wanda Hill, and Rose Loos were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment when they failed to properly monitor his insulin while on a hunger strike.
Count 6: Amber Saathoff, Wanda Hill, Mrs. Mason, and Rose Loos were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment when they refused to see Plaintiff upon his release from suicide watch.

         Defendants Barron, Hill, Loos, Anderton, Mason, Saathoff, and Wright filed a motion for summary judgment asserting Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit (Doc. 101). Specifically, Defendants contend Plaintiff failed to properly appeal his November 13, 2016 grievance; Plaintiff failed to properly name or identify Defendants Barron, Hill, Loos, Anderton, or Wright in a grievance; and Plaintiff failed to file a grievance relating to Count 6. Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. 112) arguing his administrative remedies were not available to him because the Grievance Officer failed to respond to his November 13, 2016 grievance.

         The Court reviews the following relevant grievance contained in the record.

         November 13, 2016: Plaintiff filed an eight-page grievance setting forth complaints regarding his cell placement and treatment while on hunger strike (Doc. 102-1 at 144-151). Plaintiff stated that he would not name the names of the individuals involved in his complaints for fear of reprisal. The grievance sets forth complaints regarding cell placement, cell conditions, and the conduct of correctional and healthcare staff during his hunger strike and suicide watch. The grievance mentions at least nine unidentified correctional officers, six unidentified nurses, and at least four unidentified mental health professionals.

         On December 8, 2016, the Counselor responded to Plaintiff's grievance stating that the claims could not be substantiated due to Plaintiff's failure to provide names (Doc. 102-1 at 119).

         On June 16, 2017, the Counselor wrote to Plaintiff in response to a letter Plaintiff had sent to the Director's office raising concerns over the lack of response to his grievances dated 11-11-16 and 11-13-16 (Doc. 102-1 at 121). The Counselor spoke to the Grievance Officer and was informed there was no record that such grievances were ever received by the Grievance Officer.

         On August 2, 2017, the ARB received an appeal (Doc. 102-1 at 144-158). Attached to the documents sent to the ARB was a letter from Plaintiff dated March 3, 2017, addressed to Grievance Officer Flatt inquiring about the status of his November 13, 2016 grievance, a letter dated June 21, 2017, to Mr. Hoch stating he had submitted an appeal to Grievance Officer Flatt many months ago and had not received a response, and a letter dated June 22, 2017, to Director Baldwin regarding the lack of response to his November 13, 2016 grievance (Id. at 154-158). Also attached to the November 13, 2016 grievance was an undated “Appendix” (Id. at 152-153). The Appendix identifies the first or last name of four John Does, two Jane Doe nurses, and two Jane Doe mental health professionals. Relevant to this motion, Plaintiff identified the following: M.H.P Jane Doe #1: Mason (last name), M.H.P. Jane Doe #2: Saathoff (last name).

         The ARB received a second appeal regarding the November 13, 2016 grievance on September 20, 2017 (Doc. 102-1 at 100). The ARB returned the grievance instructing Plaintiff to provide the Grievance Officer's response and the CAO's response.

         Pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), the Court held a hearing on the issue of exhaustion on December 17, 2019. Plaintiff testified he filed the eight-page grievance, along with the two-page “Appendix, ” on November 13, 2016. Plaintiff stated he did not initially include names of individuals in the grievance because he feared retaliation. Plaintiff testified he then attached the “Appendix” to provide a few names of individuals he thought would possibly not retaliate. Plaintiff testified he received a response from Counselor Wheelan on December 8, 2016, stating he could not substantiate a claim because Plaintiff failed to identify any individuals.

         Plaintiff testified after receiving the Counselor's response, on December 15, 2016, he folded it, addressed it to the Grievance Office, and placed it in institutional mailbox on his gallery to be sent to Officer Flatt. Plaintiff testified he waited for a response from Officer Flatt for several months, but never received a response. Officer Flatt testified that if he had received a copy of a grievance appeal, he would have date-stamped it the date it was received, responded to it in the order it was received, and retained a copy in the offender's grievance file. There is no evidence in the record that Plaintiff's grievance was received by the Grievance Office. Plaintiff's Cumulative Counseling Summary indicates Plaintiff met with Counselor Wheelan on January 31, 2017, and Plaintiff reported all ...


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