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RILEY v. BARKSDALE

June 13, 2005.

ERIN RILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER JEAN BARKSDALE AND OFFICER VARGAS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARK FILIP, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Erin Riley ("Riley" or "Plaintiff") brings this action against Officers Jean Barksdale ("Barksdale") and Vargas ("Vargas") (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiff filed a two count complaint (D.E. 1) that charges Defendants in their individual capacities with violating her rights by (1) being deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's safety during her incarceration at the Cook County Jail ("Count I"); and (2) failing to provide her with appropriate medical care in a timely manner ("Count II").*fn1 Defendants have moved for summary judgment (D.E. 28). As explained below, Defendants' motion is denied.

I. FACTS

  A. Preliminary 56.1 Issues

  The relevant facts are taken from Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 ("L.R. 56.1") statement of facts and exhibits, Plaintiff's response to Defendants' statement of facts, Plaintiff's L.R. 56.1 statement of facts, and Defendants' response to Plaintiff's statement of facts. The Seventh Circuit has "consistently and repeatedly upheld a district court's discretion to require strict compliance" with L.R. 56.1. See Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. Of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000); see also Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000) (failure to adhere to L.R. 56.1 requirements, including citation to specific evidentiary materials justifying denial, is equivalent to admission). Where the parties disagree over relevant facts, the Court sets forth the competing versions. In addition, the Court, as it must, resolves genuine factual ambiguities in Plaintiff's favor. See Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004). In particular, this strict compliance means that the Court only considers those facts or additional facts that comply with L.R. 56.1.

  Specifically, both parties in the instant case have, at times, failed to comply with the tenets of Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) in their respective responses to the opposition's statements of facts or additional facts. (D.E. 30, 32.) In those instances where the parties failed to comply, the Court has deemed admitted those particular statements of facts that have complied with Local Rule 56.1, where they are properly supported with competent evidence. See Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 584 ("[A] nonmovant's failure to adhere to these requirements is equivalent to admitting the movant's case."). When denying a movant's factual allegations, "a general denial is insufficient." Id. Rather, "the nonmovant must cite specific evidentiary materials justifying the denial. If the cited material does not clearly create a genuine dispute over the movant's allegedly undisputed fact, the nonmovant should provide an explanation." Id.

  Plaintiff, by virtue of her insufficient, general denials — i.e., where Plaintiff simply stated that she "denies the facts as stated" and cited to the same portion of the record that Defendants cited in their 56.1(a)(3) statement — is deemed to have admitted paragraphs 12, 13, 16, 17, 20, 21 (for the purposes of determining that Plaintiff was transported to Cermak Hospital), and paragraph 23 (for the purpose of establishing that Plaintiff's grievance charged Harris with battery). (All of these paragraphs and statements were properly supported by evidence.) For paragraphs 10, 15, 21 (for the purpose of determining whether a nurse checked Plaintiff's eye at the dispensary), 22 (as to the month and year), and 23 (as to the charge of assault), where the cited pages undermined or did not establish Defendants' statements of fact, the statements of facts are deemed to have been properly disputed by Plaintiff.

  Defendants also failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1 in several of their responses. In several instances throughout their Response to Plaintiff's Additional Statement of Facts (D.E. 32), Defendants' denial was general and unsupported. Specifically, Defendants repeatedly stated that they "deny the facts" in a particular paragraph and further asserted, without explanation, "[l]ack of foundation." (Id. ¶¶ 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 29, 30.) In those instances where the foundational objection appeared to have merit, the fact at issue was deemed to be disputed. (Id. ¶¶ 29-30.) However, in others, the Court was unclear as to why a "lack of foundation" supposedly existed, and Defendants provided no further explanation nor filed any evidentiary materials. Defendants also did not file a motion to strike. As such, the denial does not "clearly create a genuine dispute." Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 584. Consequently, the Court deems admitted for purposes of L.R. 56.1 the facts Defendants purported to deny in paragraphs 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

  Similarly, the authority Defendants cite for disputing paragraphs 13 and 25 is insufficient for the Court to conclude the facts are disputed, and those paragraphs also are admitted. Finally, Defendants object to paragraphs 3 and 28 pursuant to, the Court suspects, Federal Rule of Evidence 602, as a result of Plaintiff's claimed lack of personal knowledge. (D.E. 32 ¶¶ 3, 28.) Personal knowledge "may include reasonable inferences," but those inferences "must be grounded in observation or other first-hand personal experience. They must not be flights of fancy, speculations, hunches, intuitions, or rumors about matters remote from that experience." Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 772 (7th Cir. 2003). This objection is overruled: paragraph 3 is admitted as to Harris's reputation of bullying inmates, as is paragraph 28. Officer Bibbs certainly had personal knowledge as to Harris's reputation (as related in paragraph 3), and Plaintiff clearly had personal knowledge about the extent of her injury and can testify as to the extent of the injury she suffered at the hands of Harris (as addressed in paragraph 28).

  B. Background Facts

  By all accounts, this case in many respects presents a common deliberate-indifference-claim scenario where a plaintiff-detainee seeks to prove that a defendant-custodian failed to take protective action after the plaintiff-detainee complained of a feared threat posed by a specific person. See Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 914 (7th Cir. 2005). Plaintiff, having been charged with possessing a controlled substance, was detained at the Cook County Jail for an undetermined period of time beginning in July 2002, including during all dates relevant to the instant opinion. (D.E. 29 ¶¶ 3-4; D.E. 30 ¶ 1.) She resided in Division 3, inside Tier A-3. (D.E. 29 ¶ 5; D.E. 30 ¶ 2.) Melissa Harris ("Harris") also was housed there. (D.E. 29 ¶ 7.) Harris had a reputation for bullying and assaulting inmates. (D.E. 30 ¶ 3.) Harris and Riley did not manifest any palpable animosity towards each other for the first several months that Riley was at the Cook County Jail. (D.E. 29 ¶ 8.) Eventually, though, Harris became very angry with Riley, possibly because Harris believed Riley had "book[ed]" her (i.e., snitched on her) to the officials, even though Plaintiff had never had any fight or filed any complaint or grievance against Harris prior to the events at issue. (D.E. 30 ¶ 12; D.E. 29 ¶¶ 8-10.)

  During the late hours of October 3, 2002, Officer Barksdale's shift began, and she proceeded to conduct a standard inmate count. (D.E. 30 ¶ 8.) While Barksdale was counting the inmates, Harris was "going off" in her cell. (Id. ¶ 9.) Around 11:20 that evening, after listening to Harris's tirade and repeated threats that she would burn her cell down, Barksdale let Harris out of her cell. (D.E. 29 ¶ 13; 30 ¶ 10.) She did so despite the fact that inmates were supposed to be remain locked in their cells from lockdown time — around 9:00 or 9:30 in the evening — until it was time for breakfast. (D.E. 30 ¶¶ 6-7.) Barksdale and Harris walked down the hall from Harris's cell, past Plaintiff's cell door, where Harris (with Barksdale supposedly directly next to her) stopped long enough to demand that Plaintiff "come to the chuckhole (a hole in each cell door approximately four inches by one foot)." (D.E. 30 ¶¶ 11-13; D.E. 29 ¶ 14.) Harris then confronted Barksdale, demanding that Barksdale "pop the lock" of Riley's cell, and Barksdale responded that she could not do so. (D.E. 30 ¶¶ 14-15.) Harris then informed Barksdale that "when the door is popped for breakfast, I'm going to fuck that bitch [Riley] up." (Id. ¶ 16.) Barksdale responded, "Come on Melissa," and the two walked away. (Id.)

  Harris came back to Riley's cell about thirty or forty-five minutes later, and she again demanded that Riley get out of bed and come to the chuckhole. (Id. ¶ 18.) When Riley refused to do so, Harris waited outside Riley's cell door and eventually got a chair and sat outside the door for an extended period of time. (Id.) While Harris was waiting outside Riley's door, Officer Barksdale apparently allowed her to remain outside of her cell at her convenience and even asked Harris if she was alright. (Id. ¶ 19.) Leaving Harris unsupervised at night in this manner was not permitted under the standard procedures of the Cook County Jail. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.) Around 4:00 in the morning, the cell doors were opened for breakfast. (Id. ¶ 22.) Apparently, by this time Harris was no longer waiting outside Plaintiff's cell. Although Riley was nervous about leaving her cell, her status as a "team leader" required her to leave the cell to complete certain paperwork. (Id.) Upon returning from breakfast, Riley's cellmate informed her that Harris was outside the door waiting for her. (Id. ¶ 23.) Harris then entered Riley's cell and began yelling at her; the confrontation in the cell culminated with Harris swinging at Plaintiff, but Harris only struck a glancing blow. (Id. ¶ 24.) Riley was able to get past Harris, escape the cell, and enter the dayroom. (Id. ¶ 25; D.E. 29 ¶ 16.)

  Neither Officer Barksdale nor Officer Vargas were in the dayroom, but Officer Vargas was located in the interlock, which is adjacent but separate to the dayroom — with a large, solid door separating the two. (D.E. 29 ¶¶ 18-19; D.E. 30 ¶ 25.) Apparently this door has some amount of glass in it such that someone inside the interlock can look into the dayroom. (D.E. 30, Ex. A at 46.) Riley went to the door separating the interlock from the dayroom and waived her arms at Vargas, trying to get her attention. (Id. ¶ 25.) She also began shaking the door and yelling, "Please, let me out of here." (Id.) (It is unclear what this door specifically ...


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