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Jones v. Carey

August 25, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge


This is an Eighth Amendment, excessive force claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant Carey, the sole remaining defendant, has moved for summary judgment.

While Carey's motion is thorough, well-supported, and persuasive, the resolution of the plaintiff's claim requires credibility determinations not allowed on summary judgment. The motion must therefore be denied and the case set for trial.

Summary Judgment

A party moving for summary judgment must show, from the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, . . ." that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the "moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986);Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c). This burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994).

"At summary judgment a court may not assess the credibility of witnesses, choose between competing inferences or balance the relative weight of conflicting evidence; it must view all the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and resolve all factual disputes in favor of the non-moving party." Abdullahi v. City of Madison, 423 F.3d 763, 773 (7th Cir. 2005), citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

Undisputed Facts

The plaintiff was convicted on a drug charge and sentenced to 21 years in the IDOC on March 19, 2003. He filed motions to reduce his sentence in Sangamon County Court. On November 19, 2004, the plaintiff was transported from Logan Correctional Center to Sangamon County Jail for a hearing on his post-trial motions. At the end of the hearing, all the plaintiff's motions were denied and he was returned to the booking area of Sangamon County Jail, for return to Logan. Defendant Carey, a sergeant with the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office and shift commander at the time, was in the booking area. Carey asked the plaintiff how his court date went. What happened after that is disputed, at least until the point the plaintiff wound up in the transport van on his way back to Logan.

When the plaintiff returned to Logan on the evening of November 19, 2004, he filed an injury report, claiming that defendant Carey had used excessive force on him at the Sangamon County Jail. The inmate injury report states:

Inmate has slightly edematous and reddened areas on medial and lateral sides of right wrist, full range of motion of right wrist and hand, has small abrasion on lateral surface of right wrists, no bleeding noted, nail beds consistent with quick capillary refill and pink, no c/o numbness or tingling, no deformity noted. Alteration in comfort. Cleaned abrasion with sterile NS, applied Neosporin Ointment and band aids, told Inmate to return to HCU as needed.

The report indicates that it was reviewed by a physician, who in turn indicated that the plaintiff could return on an as-needed basis. The medical records report no further treatment for the injury. According to the plaintiff's deposition, he received a tetanus shot and Tylenol, and later on anti-depressant medication for his continued pain and distress.

Disputed Facts and Analysis

Defendant Carey avers that the plaintiff was unruly and insulting, addressing foul and abusive threats and insults to Sangamon County Correctional Officers, disregarding orders to cease, and generally creating a dangerous disturbance that had the potential to escalate, given the other inmates in the booking area. Carey determined the plaintiff should be removed from the area immediately, before the situation escalated. Carey avers that the only force he used on the plaintiff was to escort him using an approved "come-along" technique, which involves placing one hand on the back of an inmate's arm and the other on his wrist, and applying pressure when necessary to counter resistance. Carey asserts that the plaintiff resisted him, twisting and pulling away, dragging his feet, and continuing to shout obscenities. Carey denies that the plaintiff was thrown in the transport van, but instead that avers that the plaintiff stepped up into the van on his own.

To support his motion for summary judgment, Carey offers his own detailed affidavit, along with detailed affidavits of officers who witnessed parts or all of the incident. He also offers the plaintiff's deposition, a picture of the plaintiff's wrists after the incident (which is indiscernible on the court's ...

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