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Carter v. Hecht

February 29, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge


I. Introduction

On September 16, 2002, pro se Plaintiff/Inmate Willie L. Carter filed suit against Defendants Daniel Hecht and David Childers alleging violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants refused to assign him a single-man cell and ordered him to share a double-cell with inmate Charles Mullen, a member of an enemy gang. Plaintiff maintains that Defendants deliberately exposed him to inmate violence or responded to the threat of inmate violence with deliberate indifference by placing him in a cell with Mullen. On September 13, 2006, the Court entered an order adopting Magistrate Judge Philip M. Frazier's Report and Recommendation denying Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 83.) In that Order, the Court found that material facts were in dispute and, therefore, Plaintiff was not entitled to summary judgment. On January 9, 2007, Judge Frazier entered an order staying the proceedings against Defendant Childers pending his return from active military duty in Iraq and scheduling an evidentiary hearing as to Defendant Hecht. (Doc. 93.) This matter is now before the Court on the Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law ("Findings") issued by Judge Frazier following an evidentiary hearing on Plaintiff's claims as to Defendant Hecht only. (Doc. 103.)

Judge Frazier's Findings recommend that judgment be entered against Plaintiff and in favor of Defendant Hecht. (Doc. 103.) Plaintiff filed timely objections to the Findings (Docs. 105 and 106) and a document entitled Motion for Clarification on Plaintiff's Objections (Doc. 108), which essentially restates Plaintiff's objections. Defendant Hecht filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's objections. (Doc. 107.) Therefore, this Court undertakes de novo review of the Findings. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); FED. R.CIV.P.72(b); Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court may "accept, reject or modify the recommended decision." FED. R.CIV.P.72(b); Willis v. Caterpillar Inc., 199 F.3d 902, 904 (7th Cir. 1999). In making this determination, the Court must look at all the evidence contained in the record and give fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objection has been made. Id.

II. Background

Plaintiff was formerly a member of the Gangster Disciples ("GDs"). In 1991, Plaintiff had a falling out with the GDs while incarcerated within the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). Due to threats made against Plaintiff by GD members, Plaintiff was moved into protective custody. Nevertheless, in 1998, Plaintiff was attacked while in protective custody ("PC") by a GD member. In June 2002, Plaintiff was moved from the PC unit to the segregation unit. Plaintiff asserts that he informed Defendant Hecht, an IDOC correctional officer, about his status as a former gang member and requested a single-unit cell. Plaintiff's request was denied. Plaintiff was placed in a double-man cell with Charles Mullen, a GD member, who allegedly threatened to harm Plaintiff. Plaintiff requested, again, that he be moved, but to no avail. On July 20, 2002, Mullen attacked Plaintiff, which resulted in a busted lip and some bruises. There is no evidence that Plaintiff sought medical treatment for his injuries. However, Plaintiff did file a grievance dated July 20, 2002 regarding the incident. (Doc. 55-2, p. 1.) Plaintiff requested that he be "placed on protective single man cell status while in segregation." (Id.) Plaintiff was not moved.

Two days later on July 22, 2002, Mullen attacked Plaintiff again. Plaintiff sought medical attention for minor injuries, including a bloody ear. Plaintiff filed a second grievance. (Doc. 55-2, p. 3.) Following the second incident, Plaintiff was moved to a new cell. At the evidentiary hearing, Plaintiff testified that he told Defendant Hecht about the July 20, 2002 altercation at least twice prior to the July 22, 2008 incident.

III. Analysis

Following the evidentiary hearing, Judge Frazier made the following findings of fact:

1. Plaintiff was incarcerated in the IDOC on June 10, 2002.

2. On that date, plaintiff was moved into cell #533 of the segregation unit at Menard Correctional Center. That move was administered by defendant Daniel Hecht, an IDOC officer.

3. Plaintiff had been a protective custody inmate due to poor relations with the Gangster Disciples, a prison gang with which he had previously been affiliated.

4. Plaintiff was placed into cell #533 with inmate Charles Mullen, himself ...

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