United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS.
Y. PEARSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
move for summary judgment, and Plaintiff moves for an
extension of time to respond. ECF Nos. 152;
154. For the reasons stated below, both motions are
denied, and the Court's earlier Order of Dismissal
(ECF No. 120) is reinstated.
Background and Procedural Posture
December 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this matter
alleging, among other things, deliberate indifference to his
serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment to
the United States Constitution. ECF No. 1 (Initial
Complaint); see ECF No. 55 (Amended Complaint). He
alleged that, in February 2014, after he was struck in the
face with a rock by another inmate, the medical staff at his
correctional institution failed to provide appropriate
medical care, and he sustained permanent damage as a result.
ECF No. 55 at PageID#: 352-55.
September 2018, after partial denial of summary judgment
(ECF No. 110), the case was settled and dismissed
with prejudice. ECF Nos. 118, 120. He
alleged that, despite an obligation in the settlement
agreement that Defendants “provide medical treatment to
Plaintiff consistent with [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation
and Corrections] policy, ” Plaintiff was refused such
treatment. See Ex Parte Letter to the Court (Oct.
25, 2018). On February 6, 2019, after substantial interaction
with the parties, the Court reopened the case to assess
whether there remained outstanding, unresolved issues and to
adjudicate such issues if appropriate. ECF No. 129.
The Court clarified that its earlier dismissal was vacated,
and the matters disputed in the parties' pleadings would
proceed to trial. ECF No. 142. The Court also
clarified that it lacked jurisdiction to enforce or modify
the September 2018 settlement agreement, and that it would
not entertain allegations not presented in the operative
pleadings. Id.; ECF No. 133; see ECF
No. 55 (Amended Complaint); ECF No. 67 (Answer
to Amended Complaint).
matter was set for a jury trial to begin on July 15, 2019.
The parties were invited to submit motions for summary
judgment provided that any such motion did not
“relitigate matters that have already been decided or
otherwise raise issues that could already have been brought
with reasonable diligence.” ECF No. 147 at PageID#:
1450. Defendants advance this second motion for summary
judgment, arguing that the settlement agreement rendered
Plaintiff's claims moot, and that Plaintiff's claims
must be dismissed in any event because Plaintiff had failed
to exhaust his administrative remedies before commencing this
litigation. ECF No. 152 (citing Int'l Union,
United Auto., Aerospace, Agr. and Implement Workers of
America v. Dana Corp., 697 F.2d 718, 721 (6th Cir.
1983); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 736 (2001)).
timely filed his opposition,  and Defendants replied. ECF Nos.
judgment is appropriately granted when there is no genuine
dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment in its favor as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
Defendants' primary argument, however, does not sound in
judgment but rather dismissal for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction. Dana Corp., 697 F.2d at
720 (“Mootness is a jurisdictional question.”);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any
time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court
must dismiss the action.”).
urge that the parties' September 2018 settlement
agreement obviated whatever “case” or
“controversy” existed at that time. See U.S.
Const. Art. III. They argue that Plaintiff's present
dissatisfaction, to the extent it arises from events that
took place prior to September 12, 2018 (the date the parties
executed their stipulation of dismissal, ECF No.
118), does not give rise to the Court's jurisdiction
because it does not pertain to a “real and substantial
controvers[y] . . . .” See Dana Corp., 697
F.2d at 720 (quoting N. Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S.
244, 246 (1971)). “[A] case is moot when the issues
presented are no longer ‘live' or the parties lack
a legally cognizable interest in the outcome.”
Id.(quoting Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S.
486, 496 (1969)).
resists the argument, stating that it is
“obvious” that “the settlement agreement is
invalid.” ECF No. 155 at PageID#: 1565.
Plaintiff also acknowledges, however, that the Court lacks
“jurisdiction to enforce or modify the settlement
agreement between the parties, ” which resolved the
issues raised in the pleadings. Id. at PageID#:
1566. “[M]atters relating to any such agreement
are matters of state contract law.” ECF No. 133 at
PageID#: 1379. The Court reopened the case (ECF No.
129) to assess whether a controversy persisted and, if
so, to adjudicate that controversy.
parties' briefing, however, reveals that their discord
centers on Plaintiff's recent allegations (from October
2018 to the present), not those allegations described in his
Amended Complaint (from February 2014) (ECF No. 55).
Plaintiff describes the remaining dispute as follows:
“[T]he plaintiff was under the impression that his
medications that he was receiving at the time of the
settlement agreement would continue and be on-going. It is
because of that issue the plaintiff wrote the Court” to
ask that the matter be reopened. ECF No. 155 at PageID#:
1566. He continues, “This is a matter of the
plaintiff having an understanding that he would receive
medication that will keep him from going blind at a more
faster and continuing rate, and to alleviate the pain and
suffering from the physical condition” resulting from
2014 events. Id. Since the dismissal and reopening,
Plaintiff has alleged that “Defendants did breach [the]
Terms of Settlement, ” Ex Parte Letter to the
Court (Oct. 25, 2018), and that his medications were
stopped without justification. ECF No. 155 at PageID#:
1566; see also Final Pretrial Conference (Mar.
6, 2019). Such allegations cannot be sustained under this
case caption because they do not pertain to the parties'
pleadings. See ECF No. 55 (Amended Complaint);
ECF No. 67 (Answer).
aware of that limitation, Plaintiff has filed another lawsuit
in this judicial district based on these new (2018-2019)
allegations of misconduct. No. 1:19-cv-511 (N.D. Ohio,
filed Mar. 7, 2019) (before Judge Oliver). In his
Complaint in that litigation, he alleges that he presented
his settlement agreement to the medical staff at Richland
Correctional Institution, the physician there insisted that
he would not honor the terms of the settlement agreement and
discontinued some of Plaintiff's medications, and
Plaintiff continues to suffer pain as a result. No.
1:19-cv-511 (N.D. Ohio), ECF No. 1 at PageID#:
live controversy exists between the parties, it is accounted
for in the new litigation before Judge Oliver. The pleadings
in this litigation (ECF Nos. 55, 67),
however, do not describe a “real and substantial
controversy” because the subject matter of that dispute
has been resolved by settlement, and that settlement has not
been voided. See Rice, 404 U.S. at 246; Dana
Corp., 697 F.2d at 721. Summary judgment is not
appropriate because Defendants are not entitled as a matter
of law to judgment in their favor. Nevertheless, the Court
reinstates its earlier ...