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Johnson v. Collins

August 6, 2007

NATHANIEL JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
T. J. COLLINS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donald G. Wilkerson United States Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

This matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson by Senior United States District Judge William D. Stiehl pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and Local Rule 72.1(a) for a Report and Recommendation on the Motion for a Summary Judgment (Doc. 19), filed by Defendants on December 15, 2006. For the reasons set forth below, it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, and that the Court adopt the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

FINDINGS OF FACT

Plaintiff Nathaniel Johnson ("Plaintiff") alleges that while he was detained in the St. Clair County Jail in Belleville, Illinois, defendants failed to protect him from an attack by another inmate named Rafael Jackson. On April 19, 2004, Officer Gray reported that "detainee Johnson expressed to me that detainee Raphael Jackson had threatened to kill him if he didn't give him some money." (Doc. 22-2, pg. 7). Gray further reported, "Detainee Johnson said that he was sitting in his cell reading when detainee Jackson placed a sharp weapon to his neck and demanded money or he would kill him." (Doc. 22-2, pg. 7). A Keep Separate Report printout, dated June 4, 2004, shows that on April 20, 2004, it was ordered that "Rafeal A. Jackson" was to be kept separate from Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, Pg. 8). The report also indicated that three other individuals were also to be kept separate from Raphael Jackson (Doc. 1, Pg. 8). Plaintiff asserts that this order was made after Raphael Jackson stated in front of a jailer that he would kill Plaintiff (Doc. 11, pg. 3).

On May 1, 2004, Officer Davis reported that following a disruption in Plaintiff's cell block, he was passed a note by an inmate which stated that another inmate was trying to get Plaintiff taken out of the block so that detainee Rafael Jackson could get back in the block. (Doc. 22-2 at 5). The report then stated, "Detainees Nathanial Johnson and Rafael Jackson are to be kept separates." A note report made later that day by Officer Davis noted that Lieutenant Ray, Sergeant Cunningham, and Captain Knapp were notified of the incident.

On or about June 6, 2004,*fn1 Plaintiff was taken by Defendant Pea to the female visiting room. While en route, Plaintiff asserts that he noticed that Raphael Jackson was entering the room ahead of him, and immediately told Defendant Pea that he and Jackson "got a keep separate against us." (Doc 19-2 at 3). According to Plaintiff, Defendant Pea responded that he'd look into it but then left and did not return (Doc. 19-2 at 2). Defendant Pea, however, asserts only that prior to Plaintiff's altercation with Jackson, he was "unaware of the 'keep separate' order created April 19, 2004." (Doc. 19-3). Plaintiff then entered the same visiting room with Jackson. A short time later, Jackson brutally attacked Plaintiff, stabbing him in the head and hand and causing a back injury. Plaintiff was taken to an outside hospital where he received medical treatment, including stitches.

After the incident, Plaintiff asserts that he told Defendants Cole and Johnson that he wanted to lodge a formal complaint, but they told him to "drop the whole matter" or he would "end up" on the same block with Jackson (Doc. 11 at 4). Plaintiff states that he then filed a written grievance with Defendant Collins, but never received a response (Doc. 11 at 4). Plaintiff asserts that all of the defendants allowed Jackson to "commit one assault after another" without taking any steps to stop him (Doc. 1 at 5). Plaintiff states that as a result of the assault, he suffered from numerous stab wounds (requiring stitches), lower back problems, headaches, cold sweats, anxiety, and mental anguish.

Plaintiff commenced this action on February 25, 2005, asserting that each of the Defendants (1) failed to protect Plaintiff, and (2) impermissibly retaliated against Plaintiff for complaining about the failure to protect Plaintiff from Jackson and for asserting Plaintiff's desire to press charges against Jackson by threatening to put Plaintiff back on the same block with Jackson.

Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment and assert that the undisputed facts show that Plaintiff cannot meet any of the elements of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's need of protection from Jackson. Defendants also assert that summary judgment is appropriate on the retaliation claim because the defendants made no threats to retaliate against Plaintiff if he were to pursue formal charges against Jackson, and that even if threats were made, such threats, without a retaliatory component, are insufficient grounds for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is proper only if it is demonstrated "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." Haefling v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 169 F.3d 494, 497 (7th Cir. 1999); Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994). The burden is upon the moving party to establish that no material facts are in genuine dispute, and any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue must be resolved against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970); Miller v. Borden, Inc., 168 F.3d 308, 312 (7th Cir. 1999). A fact is material if it is outcome determinative under applicable law. Hardin v. S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 167 F.3d 340, 344 (7th Cir. 1999); Smith v. Severn, 29 F.3d 419, 427 (7th Cir. 1997); Estate of Stevens v. City of Green Bay, 105 F.3d 1169, 1173 (7th Cir. 1997). Even if the facts are not in dispute, summary judgment is inappropriate when the information before the court reveals a good faith dispute as to inferences to be drawn from those facts. Plair v. E.J. Brach & Sons, Incorporated,105 F.3d 343, 346 (7th Cir. 1997); Lawshe v. Simpson, 16 F.3d 1475, 1478 (7th Cir. 1994); Dempsey, 16 F.3d at 836. Finally, summary judgment "will not be defeated simply because motive or intent are involved." Roger v. Yellow Freight Systems, Inc., 21 F.3d 146, 148 (7th Cir. 1994). See also, Miller,168 F.3d at 312; Plair, 105 F.3d at 347; Hong v. Children's Memorial Hospital, 993 F.2d 1257, 1261 (7th Cir. 1993); Lac Du Flambeau Indians v. Stop Treaty Abuse-Wisconsin, Inc., 991 F.2d 1249, 1258 (7th Cir. 1993).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the trial court must determine whether the evidence presented by the party opposed to the summary judgment is such that a reasonable jury might find in favor of that party after a trial.

The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial--whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.

[T]his standard mirrors the standard for a directed verdict under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a), which is that the trial judge must direct a verdict if, under the governing law, there can ...


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