The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLANCHE MANNING, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The plaintiff, a state prisoner, has brought this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff
claims that the defendants, officials at the Stateville
Correctional Center, violated his constitutional rights by acting
with deliberate indifference to his safety. More specifically,
the plaintiff alleges that he was placed, over his repeated
protests, in a cell with a dangerous and belligerent inmate and
that his cellmate attacked him. This matter is before the court
for consideration of the parties' cross-motions for summary
judgment. For the reasons stated in this order, judgment must be
granted in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiff
because, under the circumstances of this case, the defendants
cannot be held liable under the Civil Rights Act for the attack.
STANDARD FOR A SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION
Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with affidavits, if any, show 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." Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Prime Northgate Plaza Ltd.
Partnership v. Lifecare Acquisitions Corp., 985 F. Supp. 815,
817 (N.D. Ill. 1997). In determining whether factual issues
exist, the court must view all the evidence and draw all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Walker v. Northeast Regional Commuter Railroad
Corp., 225 F.3d 895, 897 (7th Cir. 2000).
However, Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment,
after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a
party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on
which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial."
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial.'"
Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Group, Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 393
(7th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1118 (1998). A
"metaphysical doubt" will not suffice. Matsushita Elec.
Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
Disputed facts are material only if they might affect the outcome
of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08
(7th Cir. 1992).
The plaintiff is a state prisoner, confined at the Stateville
Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action.
(Complaint, p. 2.) The defendant Jerry Jones, currently retired,
was the placement office supervisor at Stateville at the time of
the events giving rise to this lawsuit. (Id., p. 1; Defendants'
Exhibit C, Affidavit of Jerry Jones, ¶ 1.) The defendant James
Page, likewise now retired, was Stateville's warden at the time
of the events giving rise to this lawsuit. (Defendants' Exhibit
B, Affidavit of James Page, ¶ 1.) The following facts are uncontested for purposes of this
motion: In October 1998, the plaintiff was transferred from a
medium security facility to the Stateville Correctional Center
after he was cited (wrongfully, he claims) for a staff assault.
(Defendants' Exhibit A, Deposition of John L. Birch, at pp.
9-10.) Presumably following his release from segregation,
somewhere between October 20 and October 25, 1998, the plaintiff
was placed in a cell with inmate Cornell Ivy. (Id., pp. 29-30.)
The plaintiff had not named inmate Ivy as an enemy on the
IDOC's "Keep-Separate-From" [also known as "Enemies"] List.
(Id., pp. 25-26.) The plaintiff did not file a regular or
emergency grievance immediately upon being placed with Ivy.
(Id., pp. 24-25.) The plaintiff did not speak directly to
either of the named defendants about any problems with Ivy.
(Id., pp. 18, 23-25, 27-28, 33-34 and 41; see also Page
Affidavit, ¶ 12; Jones Affidavit, ¶ 8.) The plaintiff never
requested placement in protective custody either before or after
the altercation. (Plaintiff's Deposition, pp. 45-46.) Neither
Page nor Jones was aware that the plaintiff feared for his safety
at the hands of inmate Ivy. (Page Affidavit, ¶ 15; Jones
Affidavit, ¶ 8.) No staff contacted Jones regarding fears about
the plaintiff's physical safety prior to the incident. (Jones
Affidavit, ¶ 11.)
Jones was not in the chain-of-command for inmate grievances.
(Jones Affidavit, ¶ 7.) Jones never received any correspondence,
grievance, or other notification from the plaintiff that he had
concerns about his cell placement. (Id., ¶ 8.) Had Jones
received a grievance from the plaintiff, he would have forwarded
it to the plaintiff's counselor for investigation. (¶ 9.)
When deciding where to house an inmate, the placement officer
reviews such information as the inmate's gang affiliation, his
aggression level, his "predator" or "vulnerable" status, and the
"keep separate from" [or enemies] list. (Jones Affidavit, ¶ 2.)
Stateville is a maximum security facility, housing mostly inmates convicted of Class X,
Class 1 and Class 2 felonies. (Id.) During the relevant time
period, the plaintiff was classified as a high aggression level
inmate, with an aggression score as high or higher than inmate
Ivy's. (Id., ¶ 10; Defendants' Exhibit E, IDOC Internal
Classification Form.) The aggression level is based on such
factors as the nature of the offense for which the inmate has
been convicted, his disciplinary and adjustment history, and his
security classification. (Id.) Contrary to the plaintiff's
belief, lieutenants, captains and building superintendents do, in
fact, have the power to authorize cell changes. (Page Affidavit,
The plaintiff says that a Sergeant Greenfield witnessed inmate
Ivy acting "in a dangerous and belligerent" manner toward the
plaintiff one day. (Plaintiff's deposition, pp. 22-23.) The
plaintiff told Greenfield that the two inmates were not getting
along and that Ivy had specifically threatened "to [expletive
deleted] me up." (Id., p. 29.) Greenfield allegedly told the
plaintiff that he had contacted the placement office but that
Jones had declined to authorize a cell change, announcing that
"the only cell changes that he would make would be to
disciplinary segregation." (Id., p. 23.) The plaintiff also
claims that he spoke to his counselor, as well as an unidentified
lieutenant, about problems with Ivy. (Id., pp. 27, 30.) [The
plaintiff explains that he did not know who his building
superintendent was and never saw him, see Plaintiff's
Deposition at p. 53, and that in any case he would have feared
for his safety had he contacted the superintendent. Id.]
On or about November 1, 1999, the plaintiff filed a grievance
concerning his placement with Ivy. (Id., p. 24; Defendants'
Exhibit D, Grievance dated November 2, 2004). The grievance
stated, "This inmate states he is white and keeps getting celly's
(sic) that (sic) are Islam, Muslim and or Racists. Cells without an option for a cell change and a
chance to be secure in my person and property. Policy of not
allowing a person a cell change without making trouble for
himself are wrong." (Exhibit D.) In the relief section, the
plaintiff requested, "A cell change into a cell where I can sleep
without one eye open, or another celly." (Id.)
The counselor's November 3, 1999, response stated: "Cell
assignments are made by the placement officer on a
non-discriminatory basis." (Id.) On November 18, 1999, the
defendant Page [or a designated subordinate] signed off as
concurring with the counselor's response. (Id., p. 2; Page,
Affidavit, ¶ 11.)
In the meantime, on November 2, 1999, the plaintiff and Ivy had
a physical altercation. (Defendants' Exhibit G, Incident
Reports.) When inmate Ivy at first refused to heed correctional
officers' orders to stop fighting and the fight continued to
escalate, one of the officers fired a warning shot, thereby
quelling the situation. (Id.) The plaintiff sustained a broken
nose, facial injuries, and lost a tooth or teeth.
(Id.)*fn1 Ivy had neck and chest injuries. (Id.) The
fight lasted "a couple of ...