Gevas v. Ryker et al
ORDER ADOPTING 65 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, re 53 , GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART 53 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Derwin Ryker, Harrington, J Brown, C Vaughn. The Court ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Williamss Report and Recommendation (Doc. 65) except with respect those portions that Plaintiff specifically objected to relative to Defendant Vaughn. Defendants motion for summary judgment (Doc. 53) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART : Defendant Vaughn is GRANTED summary judgment (Doc. 53) and is DISMISSED, without prejudice; Defendants Ryker, Harrington and Brown are DENIED summary judgment. (mmr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
DAVID GEVAS, #B-41175,
DERWIN RYKER, HARRINGTON,
J. BROWN, and C. VAUGHN,
Case No. 10-cv-0493-MJR-SCW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
REAGAN, District Judge:
On August 15, 2011, Defendants Lee Ryker, Noble Harrington, Jeremiah Brown
and Cecil Vaughn moved for summary judgment (Doc. 53), arguing that Plaintiff David Gevas
failed to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing this civil rights action, as is required by 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Before the Court is the Report of United States Magistrate Judge Stephen C.
Williams (Doc. 65) recommending that the motion for summary judgment be granted in part and
denied in part.
Also before the Court is Plaintiff Gevas’s Objection to the Report and
Recommendation (Doc. 69), along with his related motion for leave to file a second, amended
affidavit in support of his objection (Doc. 72).
Plaintiff David Gevas, who is in the custody of the Illinois Department of
Corrections, filed suit on July 8, 2010, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for alleged violations of his
constitutional rights while he was housed at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”) in 2008.
Plaintiff Gevas alleges that when he was transferred into Lawrence on July 9, 2008, he was held
for seven days in a cell that lacked water for consumption and sanitation, and lacked a working
toilet. He made requests to Defendants Lee Ryker, Noble Harrington, Jeremiah Brown and Cecil
Vaughn for water, plumbing repairs, and to be moved to a cell with functioning water, but was not
moved until July 15, 2008. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered dehydration, headaches,
constipation, insomnia, and other discomfort including nausea from the foul odor of the un-flushed
toilet. The Court has construed the complaint as asserting a claim of deliberate indifference to
unsanitary conditions of confinement, under the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the
Eighth Amendment (see Doc. 9).
The Report of United States Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams (Doc. 65)
recommends that the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Ryker, Harrington,
Brown and Vaughn (Doc. 53) be granted in part and denied in part. More specifically, Judge
Williams recommends that only Defendant Vaughn be granted summary judgment, due to Plaintiff
Gevas’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing suit.
acknowledges that Vaugh is mentioned by name in a grievance dated August 28, 2008, that
proceeded through the full administrative process. However, Judge Williams construes the
August 28, 2008, grievance as complimentary to Vaughn and not actually asserting a grievance
against him. With respect to Defendants Ryker, Harrington and Brown, Judge Williams finds that
administrative remedies were exhausted, despite Defendants’ assertions to the contrary.
Defendants have not objected to Judge Williams’s Report and Recommendation.
Plaintiff Gevas has filed an objection pertaining only to Defendant Vaughn (Doc. 69).
2. Applicable Legal Standards
Plaintiff Gevas has objected to the Report and Recommendation; accordingly, the
Court will undertake de novo review of the portions of the Report to which specific objection was
made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Southern District of Illinois Local Rule
73.1(b); Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court may accept, reject or
modify the recommended decision, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Local Rule 73.1(b); Willis v. Caterpillar, Inc., 199 F.3d 902,
904 (7th Cir. 1999).
Defendants have moved for summary judgment, asserting that Plaintiff Gevas
failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit, as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
See Doc. 54. As a procedural matter, Defendants cite Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
However, analysis of the exhaustion requirement is governed by unique procedures, different from
those generally applicable to motions under Rule 56.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA) requires prisoners to exhaust
administrative remedies before filing suit in federal court. That requirement applies to all suits
challenging prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as actions under “any other Federal
law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Exhaustion of administrative remedies under the PLRA is a condition precedent to suit in federal
court. Dixon v. Page, 291 F.3d 485, 490 (7th Cir. 2002). The law of this Circuit establishes that the
inmate must comply with the rules and procedures governing grievances in the particular
institution of incarceration, including any time limitations and all steps in a multi-step grievance
To properly exhaust remedies within the meaning of the PLRA, the inmate “must
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). See also Burrell v. Powers, 431 F.3d
282, 284 (7th Cir. 2005).
If administrative remedies are not properly exhausted prior to
commencement of the federal lawsuit, the district court must dismiss the suit (or any claims not
fully exhausted). Burrell, 431 F.3d at 285; Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 201 (2007). The
IDOC’s three-stage administrative process for resolving inmate grievances is delineated in 20 Ill.
Admin. Code Section 504.810.
The inmate is required to follow the sequential process,
concluding with an appeal in writing to the Director of the IDOC, by way of the Administrative
Review Board (ARB). See 20 Ill. Admin. Code §§ 504.810, 504.830, 504.850.
Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense; the defendant
correctional officials have the burden of proving that the inmate had available remedies that he did
not utilize. See, e.g., Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006); Dale v. Lappin, 376
F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2004). A remedy is “available” if the administrative procedure can lead to
some relief, even if it is not the precise relief the inmate wants. See Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S.
731, 741 n. 6 (2001); Larkin v. Galloway, 266 F.3d 718, 723 (7th Cir. 2001). “Prison officials may
not take unfair advantage of the exhaustion requirement . . . and a remedy becomes ‘unavailable’ if
prison employees do not respond to a properly filed grievance or otherwise use affirmative
misconduct to prevent a prisoner from exhausting.” Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir.
2006) (emphasis added) (citing Lewis v. Washington, 300 F.3d 829, 833 (7th Cir. 2002); and Dale
v. Lappin, 376 F.3d 652, 656 (7th Cir. 2004).
In Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), the Seventh Circuit delineated a
three-step process for cases in which exhaustion is contested.
(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.
Typically, when deciding a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, all facts
are construed in the light most favorable to, and all legitimate inferences are drawn in favor of, the
non-moving party. See Regent v. City of LaCrosse, 595 F.3d 691, 695 (7th Cir. 2010). However,
when ruling on the exhaustion issue, the Court may make credibility determinations and findings
of fact. See Pavey v. Conley, 663 F.3d 899, 904-905 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson v. City of
Bessemer City, N.C., 470 U.S. 564, 575 (1985) (“[W]hen a trial judge’s finding is based on his
decision to credit the testimony of one of two or more witnesses, each of whom has told a coherent
In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Magistrate Judge Williams was designated to issue
a Report and Recommendation. Judge Williams observed that the motion could be decided as a
matter of law, and no Pavey hearing was necessary.
and facially plausible story that is not contradicted by extrinsic evidence, that finding, if not
internally inconsistent, can virtually never be clear error.’”)).
In the event that available administrative remedies are not properly exhausted,
dismissal is without prejudice to initiating another action, if appropriate, after all remedies have
been exhausted. Burrell, 431 F.3d at 285, citing Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1009 (7th Cir.
2002) (“Dismissal for failure to exhaust is without prejudice ....”), and Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d
395, 401 (7th Cir. 2004) (“all dismissals under § 1997e(a) should be without prejudice”). Accord
Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 676 (7th Cir. 2005).
Plaintiff Gevas’s objection (Doc. 69) pertains just to Defendant Vaughn, the only
one of the three Defendants Judge Williams recommends be granted summary judgment.
Therefore, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 636(b), this Court need not conduct de novo review of the other
aspects of the Report and Recommendation. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-52 (1985); Video
Views Inc., v. Studio 21, Ltd., 797 F.2d 538 (7th Cir. 1986). Because Plaintiff’s objection is very
narrow, the recitation of facts set forth in the Report is repeated here in order to place the issues in
Plaintiff alleges that he exhausted his administrative remedies by filing
an emergency grievance to Defendant Ryker, warden at the time of the events
alleged in this Complaint, on July 11, 2008, complaining about his placement in
a cell without running water in the sink or toilet on July 9, 2008 (Doc. 56 p. 4;
Ex. A at ¶ 2). Plaintiff states in his affidavit that his emergency grievance
informed Ryker that Plaintiff had informed Correctional Officers’ Harrington
and Brown as well as Warden Ryker about his lack of water in his cell. His
grievance requested that he be moved to another cell with running water or
have his cell repaired (Id.). He never received the grievance back from Warden
Ryker and his request to be moved was ignored by Harrington, Brown, and
Warden Ryker (Doc. 56 Ex. A at ¶¶ 2-3). Between July 13, 2008 and August 24,
2008, Plaintiff wrote three letters to Warden Ryker and his grievance officer
requesting the status of his emergency grievance (Id.). He never received any
response from his letters or his emergency grievance (Id. at ¶ 3).
Having not received a response from his emergency grievance,
Plaintiff filed a second grievance on August 25, 2008 with his grievance officer,
through the normal non-emergency grievance process (Id. at ¶ 4). Plaintiff
alleges that this grievance provided additional facts regarding his placement in
a cell with no running water (Id.). Plaintiff’s grievance filed on August 25, 2008,
states that this is his second grievance and that the “[f]irst grievance [was] not
returned from emergency review” (Doc. 56 Ex. B). Plaintiff’s grievance stated
that he had been held in a cell from July 9, 2008 to July 15, 2008 without
running water and though he requested to be placed in a different cell or have
the plumbing in his current cell repaired, he was given excuses as to why the
water problem could not be fixed and his requests for transfer were ignored
(Id.). Plaintiff’s grievance stated that it was Counselor Vaughn who ultimately
intervened and got the cell repaired on July 15, 2008 (Id.). Plaintiff’s grievance
asked that the Correctional Officers assigned to Segregation Building be
The parties do not dispute that Plaintiff’s August 25, 2008 grievance
was properly exhausted. Plaintiff received a response from his counselor,
Defendant Vaughn, on September 2, 2008, stating that the water in his cell had
been checked by a plumber. Plaintiff then forwarded his grievance to the
Grievance Office, which was received on September 18, 2008 and reviewed by
the Grievance Officer on November 18, 2008 (Doc. 56 Ex. B at p. 3). The
grievance was denied. The Grievance Officer noted that Maintenance had
been contacted and they informed the Grievance Officer that there was no
record of the water needing repaired in Segregation Building 21. Further, the
Grievance Officer noted that Counselor Vaughn had also found nothing
wrong with the water, but had informed a lieutenant about Plaintiff’s
complaints and Plaintiff was ultimately moved from that cell (Id.). The Chief
Administrative Officer ultimately concurred with the Grievance Officer’s
findings on November 24, 2008 (Id.). Plaintiff then timely sent his grievance to
the ARB which was received on December 17, 2008. The ARB recommended
denial of the grievance on December 29, 2008 and Director of IDOC’s
designee Roger E. Walker ultimately concurred with the recommendation on
February 4, 2009 (Doc. 56 Ex. B at p. 4).
Defendants do not dispute that Plaintiff timely exhausted his August
28, 2008 grievance. Nor do they dispute that Plaintiff filed an initial emergency
grievance with Warden Ryker on July 9, 2008 (Doc. 57 ¶ 1). Defendants,
instead, argue that whether Plaintiff filed an initial emergency grievance that
was not responded to is irrelevant because his grievance of August 25, 2008 did
not list or identify Defendants Brown, Harrington, and Ryker. Defendants
argue that whether he filed the emergency grievance is not relevant to whether
he properly named those Defendants in his August 25, 2008 and asserts that he
should have been able to properly name those Defendants because he named
them in his July 11, 2008 emergency grievance but failed to do so.
Doc. 65, pp. 2-4.
Gevas objects that Vaugh’s statement to the grievance officer investigating the
August 28, 2008, grievance, “is wrong and very malicious toward the Plaintiff, and is one of many
reasons the Plaintiff appealed and exhausted his August 25, 2008, grievance.” Doc. 69, p. 2; see
also Doc. 69, p. 8 (Grievance Officer’s Report dated 9/18/08). Plaintiff asserts that, had Vaughn
been truthful when being interviewed by the grievance officer, Plaintiff would have been moved
out of the cell earlier.
Gevas further objects that he could not have filed another grievance against
Vaughn, taking issue with the Vaugh’s statement to the investigating officer, because such a
grievance—more than 60 days after the incident-- would have been time barred.
Lastly, Gevas takes issue with Judge Williams’s statement that Gevas “does not
indicate [in his response to Defendants’ motion] that he listed Vaughn in his his initial emergency
grievance,” thereby foreclosing an alternate route to exhaustion. See Doc. 65, p. 11. According
to Gevas, “[i]t is a mere oversight on the part of Plaintiff that he did not indicate that he listed
Vaughn in his initial emergency grievance.” Doc. 69, p. 4. Gevas supports his position with his
own affidavit (Doc. 73). Gevas also moves for leave to file a second affidavit (Doc. 72).
Insofar as Plaintiff seeks leave to file a second affidavit, in accordance with Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and Willis v. Caterpillar, Inc., 199 F.3d 902, 904 (7th Cir. 1999),
when a party objects to a Report and Recommendation, the district judge may receive additional
evidence when making the de novo review. Accordingly, and out of an overabundance of
caution, as well as in consideration of Gevas’s purported confusion caused by medication, his
motion (Doc. 72) is GRANTED. Both of Gevas’s affidavits will be considered.
Gevas’s argument that the admittedly exhausted August 25, 2008, grievance should
be construed to include Vaughn is not well taken. The August 28, 2008, grievance states in
pertinent part: “Counselor Vaughn had to intervene two times to get the water repaired July 15,
2008.” Doc. 69, pp. 6-7 (August 25, 2008, Grievance). The only statement in the grievance
relative to Vaughn cannot be reasonably read to indicate that Plaintiff had a grievance against
Vaughn. In accordance with 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.810:
The grievance shall contain factual details regarding each aspect of the
offender’s complaint, including what happened, when, where, and the name
of each person who is subject of or who is otherwise involved in the
complaint. The provision does not preclude an offender from filing a
grievance when the names of individuals are not known, but the offender
must include as much descriptive information about the individual as
20 Ill. Admin. Code §504.810(b). Plaintiff’s statement about Vaughn does not conform with the
letter or spirit of Section 504.810, and does not even intimate that Vaughn is perceived as a
problem. Rather, as Plaintiff now makes clear, his only issue with Vaughn is that he believes
Vaughn subsequently told the grievance officer the water was okay, when he had previously
recognized that there was a problem and had intervened twice to try to get the issue resolved.
Therefore, the August 25, 2008, grievance is insufficient for purpose of exhausting administrative
remedies relative to Defendant Vaughn.
Plaintiff did not take issue with Vaughn until approximately September 18, 2008,
when Vaughn made the allegedly false statement to the grievance officer. Therefore, neither his
first, “emergency” grievance, nor his subsequent August 25, 2008, grievance can possibly serve to
exhaust administrative remedies relative to Vaughn. Plaintiffs two recent affidavits do not alter
this conclusion, as they only indicate that Vaughn was alerted to the water issue and he presented
the issue to two different lieutenants, to no avail.
Section 504.810 prescribes that, “[a] grievance shall be filed within 60 days after
the discovery of the incident, occurrence, or problem that gives rise to the grievance. However, if
an offender can demonstrate that a grievance was not timely filed for good cause, the grievance
shall be considered.” 20 IL ADC 504.810(a). Thus, Plaintiff was not procedurally precluded
from filing a separate grievance regarding Vaughn. When Plaintiff appealed the grievance
officer’s report and the denial of the grievance to the Administrative Review Board, he was aware
of Vaugh’s alleged misstatement, but he did not raise that issue in his appeal. See Doc. 54-1, p. 5
(Plaintiff’s Appeal to ARB dated 12/12/08).
Plaintiff cites a district court order in Watkins v. Ghosh, 2011 WL 5981006 *5
(N.D.Ill. 2011), for the proposition that an inmate need not initiate a new, separate grievance to
take issue with how an initial grievance is handled. With all due respect to U.S. District Judge
Charels P. Kocoras, the order is not a controlling precedent. However, the Court of Appeals for
the Seventh Circuit has, in dicta, indicated that it disfavors the notion of an inmate “being caught in
some never-ending cycle of grievances.” See Dixon v. Page, 291 F.3d 485, 490 (7th Cir. 2002).
Nevertheless, in this particular situation, if Plaintiff were allowed to circumvent the grievance
process relative to his complaint about Vaughn lying, the purpose of the exhaustion requirement
would be thwarted, and the specificity requirements of 20 IL ADC 504.810 would be meaningless.
In Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 722 (7th Cir. 2011), the Court of Appeals for the
Seventh Circuit recently reiterated that the primary purpose of the exhaustion requirement is not to
give early notice to those who may later be sued; rather, the primary purpose is to alert prison
officials to a problem. See also Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). By his own admission,
Plaintiff’s problem with Vaughn relates to Vaughn allegedly lying, not with how Vaughn handled
Plaintiff’s complaints about the conditions of his cell. Thus, prison officials have never been
alerted to Vaughn’s now alleged deliberate indifference to the conditions of Plaintiff’s cell, or to
his alleged lying. Therefore, this Court does not perceive the sort of never-ending cycle that
would warrant circumventing the exhaustion requirements and sweeping up Defendant Vaughn
with the other three Defendants.
Plaintiff Gevas’s motion for leave to file a second affidavit (Doc. 72) is
GRANTED. The Court will consider the affidavit attached to Doc. 72 as properly filed.
The Court ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Williams’s Report and Recommendation
(Doc. 65) except with respect those portions that Plaintiff specifically objected to relative to
Defendant Vaughn. For the reasons stated, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIED IN
PART Defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Doc. 53): Defendant Vaughn is GRANTED
summary judgment (Doc. 53) and is DISMISSED, without prejudice; Defendants Ryker,
Harrington and Brown are DENIED summary judgment. The Court will not formally enter final
judgment against Plaintiff Gevas and in favor of Defendant Vaughn until all claims against all
Defendants are resolved. The claims against Defendants Ryker, Harrington and Brown shall
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: February 29, 2012
s/ Michael J. Reagan
United States District Judge
Southern District of Illinois
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?