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HARRELL v. SHEAHAN

August 20, 1996

JOHN A. HARRELL, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL F. SHEAHAN, SHERIFF OF COOK COUNTY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, Chief Judge:

 Plaintiff John A. Harrell brings this two-count First Amended Complaint against Michael F. Sheahan, the Sheriff of Cook County. *fn1" In Count I Harrell claims that the defendant deprived him of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by (1) detaining him for more than a month past his release date, and (2) failing to protect him from an attack by a fellow inmate. In Count II, the plaintiff brings a state law false imprisonment claim based on his prolonged detention. The defendant has moved for summary judgment on all counts. For the reasons set forth below, we grant the defendant's motion for summary judgement.

 I. Background2

 Harrell was arrested on February 16, 1993 on charges of aggravated stalking, and committed to the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC") the following day. On June 15, 1993, the plaintiff was convicted of felony stalking, and on July 7, 1993, Circuit Court Judge Krop issued an "Order of Sentence and Commitment to Cook County Department of Corrections" that stated:

 
[Harrell] was Sentenced to Six Months (6) in Cook County Department of Corrections and Thirty Months (30) Adult Probation for the offense [of stalking]--Credit given for 142 days in Cook County Department of Corrections--Time Considered Served--Time Actually Served

 Def.'s Mot., Ex. 4; Pl.'s Resp., Ex. B. Harrell claims that under this order he was entitled to "day-for-day" good time credits. Since he had already served 142 days of his sentence by July 7, 1993, he maintains that he should have been released on that date. Harrell claims he tried to persuade numerous officials at the CCDOC of his interpretation, but officials at the CCDOC disagreed, concluding that the order was ambiguous on the issue of whether Harrell was to receive good-time credits.

 On July 11, 1993, four days after being returned to the CCDOC, Harrell was attacked by several other inmates and suffered a broken jaw. The plaintiff maintains that the attack was perpetrated against him by members of the Vice Lords gang because Harrell was a "neutron"--that is, he was not affiliated with any gang at the facility. According to Harrell, shortly before the attack another inmate, Peter Guerrero, alerted CCDOC Officer Long, the officer assigned to supervise and monitor the wing, that he was the subject of gang intimidation. Harrell claims that despite the fact that jail officers were aware of this risk of inmate-on-inmate violence, no action was taken by the CCDOC officers to protect him, and indeed at the time he was attacked, Officer Long had left her post unattended.

 Although Harrell continued to tell CCDOC personnel that he should be released, he was detained at the facility for roughly one more month. On August 9, 1993, Judge Krop issued a "corrected mittimus" order to the CCDOC that explicitly entitled the plaintiff to receive day-for-day good time credit. Harrell was released from the CCDOC the following day.

 On June 29, 1995, Harrell filed a two-count complaint, which he amended on November 7, 1995. Count I alleges that Sheahan violated the plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by detaining him past July 7, 1993, and failing to protect him from the July 11, 1993 assault. Count II asserts a state law tort claim for false imprisonment. Sheahan now moves for summary judgement on both counts.

 II. Summary Judgment Standard

 "A district court must grant summary judgment where the record before it shows that 'there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Smith v. Shawnee Library Sys., 60 F.3d 317, 320 (7th Cir. 1995) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). If this burden is carried, the non-movant "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial" in order to defeat summary judgment, and cannot merely rest on the allegations contained in the pleadings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. In deciding a motion for summary judgment we read the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, Cuddington v. Northern Ind. Public Serv. Corp. (NIPSCO), 33 F.3d 813, 815 (7th Cir. 1994), although conclusory allegations from the non-movant cannot defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Smith, 60 F.3d at 320.

 III. Discussion

 A. False Imprisonment ...


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