United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
January 11, 2005.
DENISE COLLINS, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of RICKY COLLINS, deceased, Plaintiff,
CAPT. SEEMAN; SGT. BEETHEM; CORRECTIONAL OFCR. STEVEN SCHUCK; CORRECTIONAL OFCR. SAM BUCALO; and any other correctional officers, presently unknown, responsible for RICKY COLLINS' supervision and care, jointly and severally, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES KOCORAS, District Judge
The present matter comes before the court on the motion of the
Defendants, Deborah Seeman, Sam Bucalo, Steven Shuck, and Julie
Beethem (referred to collectively as "the Defendants"), for
summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is
Ricky Collins ("Mr. Collins") was an inmate at the Illinois
Department of Corrections at Sheridan Correctional Center
("Sheridan"). Mr. Collins had been moved into Building C-7 at Sheridan, a segregation unit, and was placed
in cell 65 on the upper gallery of the institution. Shortly
before 7 p.m. on September 27, 2001, Mr. Collins committed
suicide in his cell.
On the day in question, Bucalo was assigned to Sheridan's C-7
upper gallery, and Shuck was assigned to Sheridan's C-7 lower
gallery. When Bucalo left for his dinner break, Shuck covered for
him, per Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") procedure,
thus taking over supervision duties of both C-7 upper and lower
galleries for approximately one half hour. While Bucalo was at
dinner, Mr. Collins told Shuck that he needed to see a crisis
counselor and that he was "feeling suicidal." Shuck told Officer
Forsyth, the control officer, that Mr. Collins had called for a
crisis counselor. Officer Forsyth then contacted Seeman, the
Shift Commander, to alert her to the situation. Seeman, in turn,
ordered Officer Forsyth to contact Beethem (the Sheridan crisis
counselor on duty that evening between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. and the
individual assigned to run cafeteria lines and to bring inmates
to and from their gymnasium and yard activities) to let her know
that Mr. Collins needed to see a crisis counselor. Seeman also
told the officers to keep an eye on Mr. Collins pending arrival
of the crisis team member. Shuck then returned to Mr. Collins'
cell and informed him that a crisis counselor had been called and
that the crisis team member would be there as soon as she was
able. Mr. Collins responded that he would be alright until she
arrived. At approximately 5:30 p.m., Bucalo returned from dinner and met
with Seeman, Shuck, and Officer Forsyth. Seeman told Bucalo to
keep an eye on Mr. Collins until the crisis counselor arrived.
Bucalo conducted a hall check at 5:32 p.m. and returned at
approximately 5:50 p.m. to conduct another check. It was during
this second check that inmates in the C-7 upper gallery began
telling Bucalo to check on Mr. Collins. When he arrived at the
cell door, Bucalo saw Mr. Collins hanging from a bed sheet
wrapped around a ceiling pipe. Bucalo then called a "code 3"
Meanwhile, Beethem had just finished returning the inmates in
the gymnasium line to their cells. At approximately 6:50 p.m.,
she was in Sheridan's Health Care Unit reviewing Mr. Collins'
medical file in preparation for her meeting with Mr. Collins when
she heard the "code 3" medical emergency call. Mr. Collins died
of his self-induced injury.
Plaintiff Denise Collins ("Ms. Collins") is Mr. Collins'
mother. After his death, she filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
claiming that the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to a
known risk of suicide, in violation of Mr. Collins' Eighth
Amendment rights. The Defendants now move for summary judgment
that their actions did not amount to deliberate indifference to a
known serious risk of suicide. LEGAL STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine
issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c);
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). In
seeking a grant of summary judgment the moving party must
identify "those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any' which it believes demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). This
initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence
on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence
to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex,
477 U.S. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party
cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but "must
set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the
context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a
"metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986); rather, "[a] genuine issue exists when the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could find for the non-movant,"
Buscaglia v. United States, 25 F.3d 530, 534 (7th Cir. 1994).
When reviewing the record we must draw all reasonable inferences
in favor of the non-movant; however, "we are not required to draw every conceivable inference from the
record only those inferences that are reasonable." Bank Leumi
Le-Israel, B.M. v. Lee, 928 F.2d 232, 236 (7th Cir. 1991). With
these principles in mind, we turn to the present motion.
As a threshold matter, we must first address the sufficiency of
Ms. Collins' Rule 56.1(a)(3)(B) and Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B)
statements. The Defendants in their reply argue her statements
are not in compliance with the applicable local rules. We agree.
Pursuant to U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., R. 56.1, when a party
files a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must
prepare a statement of material facts. The opposing party then
submits a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of
any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment,
including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and
other supporting materials relied upon. All material facts set
forth in the statement required of the moving party will be
deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the
opposing party. A denial is deemed improper if the denial is not
accompanied by specific references to admissible evidence or at
least evidence that represents admissible evidence. Koszola v.
Bd. of Educ., 385 F.3d 1104, 1107-08 (7th Cir. 2004); see
Dent v. Bestfoods, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n. 1 (N.D. Ill.
2003); see also Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 585 (N.D.
Ill. 2000). In order to defeat a defendant's motion for summary
judgment, a plaintiff must be able to point to some evidence that would be
admissible at trial which a reasonable jury could rely upon in
finding for the non-movant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248.
The Defendants are correct in their assertion that Ms. Collins'
statements and responses to the Defendants' statements are
insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact under the
local rules. Ms. Collins fails to cite to any material which
could be used as evidence at trial to refute the facts as stated
in the Defendants' Rule 56.1 (a)(3)(B) statement. The remainder
of the Defendants' statements are either admitted or not
contested. Thus, the Defendants' statements of fact are deemed
admitted in their entirety.
Moving forward to the substantive issues, Ms. Collins has
failed to demonstrate that the Defendants were deliberately
indifferent to a serious risk of suicide. In order to
successfully state a cause of action under § 1983, she must
establish two elements: (1) that the harm to Mr. Collins was
objectively sufficiently serious, and a substantial risk to his
health and safety; and (2) that the individual Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to Mr. Collins' health and safety. See
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994); see also
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-06 (1976).
First, courts have held that suicide is clearly an objectively
serious risk of harm Matos v. O'Sullivan, 335 F.3d 553, 556
(7th Cir. 2003). As the present situation involves one of suicide, the first element of the test is
satisfied. Next, regarding deliberate indifference, liability can
be established if a prison official knows of and disregards a
serious risk to an inmate's health or safety. Farmer,
511 U.S. at 837. However, no liability will attach if the official
responded reasonably to the risk, even if the underlying harm was
not averted. Id. at 844. The plaintiff is required to show more
than mere or gross negligence, but less than purposeful
infliction of harm, on the part of the prison official. Matos,
335 F.3d at 557.
Here, the facts do not support the conclusion that the
Defendants acted with deliberate indifference toward Mr. Collins'
health and safety, but rather acted reasonably under the
circumstances. Specifically, the record before us establishes
that approximately 28 minutes elapsed between the time Mr.
Collins told Shuck that he needed to see a crisis counselor and
that he was "feeling suicidal," and when Bucalo found him
hanging. The record further establishes that during that time:
(1) Shuck told Officer Forsyth, the control officer, that Mr.
Collins had called for a crisis counselor; (2) Officer Forsyth
contacted Seeman, the Shift Commander, to alert her to the
situation; (3) Seeman ordered Officer Forsyth to contact the
crisis counselor, Beethem, to let her know that Mr. Collins
needed to see her; (4) Seeman told the officers to keep an eye on
Mr. Collins pending arrival of the crisis team member; and (5)
Shuck returned to Mr. Collins' cell and informed him that a
crisis counselor had been called and that the crisis team member would be there as
soon as she was able to which Mr. Collins responded that he would
be alright until she arrived; (6) Bucalo conducted the first of
two hall checks; and (7) Beethem was in the process of reviewing
Mr. Collins' medical file in order to prepare for her meeting
with him. These activities collectively indicate a reasonable
response on the part of the Defendants to the situation.
Accordingly, we find no issues of material fact that require fact
finding by a jury and therefore judgment can be entered as a
matter of law.
Based on the foregoing analysis, the Defendants' motion for
summary judgment is granted.
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