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Walker v. Sheahan

May 14, 2008

FREDRICK LEE WALKER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MICHAEL F. SHEAHAN, SHERIFF, WILLIAM KAMPIC, VINCENT E. ARRETT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 05 C 5634-Samuel Der-Yeghiayan, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Evans, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED MARCH 31, 2008

Before KANNE, EVANS, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

Fredrick Lee Walker, a pretrial detainee who has been incarcerated at the Cook County Jail (CCJ) for almost 8 years, alleges that the defendant correctional officers attacked and used excessive force against him, deprived him of access to medical care, and retaliated against him for exercising his constitutional rights. He also brings claims pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York City, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), alleging a widespread practice of using excessive force of which defendants Cook County and then-Sheriff Michael Sheahan had notice. The district court (Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan) granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment in full. Walker now appeals this judgment as well as several discovery rulings pertaining to his Monell claims.

According to Walker (all of the "facts" are viewed at this stage of the case as Walker presents them; we, of course, do not vouch for their reliability), CCJ officers attacked and used excessive force against him on January 11, January 14, September 8, and October 6, 2004. On*fn1 January 11, defendants Giunta and Garrett and other unknown officers used force against Walker, injuring his head, back, and arm. Afterwards, Walker was not taken for medical treatment but rather for a psychological evaluation and put in restraints for 12 hours. He did not receive medical care until 3 days later. Walker filed a grievance in connection with this incident, which was denied on February 20. Walker then appealed; he received the denial of his appeal on February 27.

On January 14, defendants Cruz, Duffy, Harmon, Norris, Savala, Steadman, and other unknown officers used force against Walker, causing visible injuries. Walker filed a grievance in connection with this incident, which was denied on September 10. Walker then appealed; he received the denial of his appeal on September 24.

On September 8, defendants Garner, Kampic, Meadows, Brown, Garrett, Black, Alexander, Taylor, Cobbs, Booker, and other unknown officers used force against Walker, injuring his head, back, and face (including a split, bleeding eyebrow) and causing trauma to his torso area. Three former and current detainees witnessed this incident and later testified about what they saw. Afterwards, Walker was taken for medical treatment to Cermak Health Services. There, staff completed forms stating that Walker declined medical treatment, although Walker testified that he did not. CCJ officers then took him to a psychological unit. Seeing Walker's injuries, staff there told the officers to return him to Cermak. On his second visit, Walker received care for his injuries. Walker filed a grievance in connection with this incident and received a response stating that no investigation was warranted. Walker then appealed; he received the denial of his appeal on September 24.

On October 6, defendants Taylor, Black, Brown, Garner, Alexander, Patterson, Miller, Bertels, and other unknown officers used force against Walker, causing pain in his back, torso, and head and bleeding in his ears and nose. After-wards, Walker was taken to Cermak on a backboard. There, CCJ officers were reluctant to let Walker receive medical care, only doing so after a nurse intervened. A doctor eventually showed Walker an X-ray indicating that he had a broken bone in his face. The doctor made follow-up appointments for Walker at a hospital, but CCJ staff did not allow him to keep them. Walker testified that he gave a social worker a completed grievance form concerning this incident. The social worker then went on vacation, and Walker was subsequently transferred to another jail. He never received a copy of his grievance and does not know what happened to it; currently, no such grievance is on file at CCJ.

Walker filed a pro se complaint on September 29, 2005, seeking to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his constitutional rights. After the district court appointed his present counsel, Walker filed an amended complaint on February 13, 2006, adding related federal and state law claims. The amended complaint sought money damages for Walker and injunctive relief for a putative class. During discovery, the district court*fn2 denied several of Walker's motions to conduct additional discovery concerning his Monell claims. The court later granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment in full. Walker v. County of Cook, No. 05 C 5634, 2007 WL 1875991 (N.D. Ill. June 28, 2007).

We review a grant of summary judgment de novo, construing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Tanner v. Jupiter Realty Corp., 433 F.3d 913, 915 (7th Cir. 2006). Summary judgment is proper if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and [ ] the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A mere scintilla of evidence in support of a claim will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000).

We begin with Walker's Monell claims against Sheriff Sheahan, which the district court dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence. Actions against individual defendants in their official capacities are treated as suits brought against the government entity itself. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991). A governmental unit is not liable under § 1983 unless the deprivation of constitutional rights is caused by its own policy or custom. Kujawski v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Bartholomew County, 183 F.3d 734, 737 (7th Cir. 1999); see also Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. A local governmental unit's unconstitutional policy or custom can be shown by: (1) an express policy causing the loss when enforced; (2) a widespread practice constituting a "custom or usage" causing the loss; or (3) a person with final policymaking authority causing the loss. Chortek v. City of Milwaukee, 356 F.3d 740, 748 (7th Cir. 2004). Walker proceeds under the second method, arguing that, whatever CCJ's formal policies were, it did not in practice enforce policies against excessive use of force. Walker specifically argues that there was widespread use of excessive force, inadequate investigation and training, and a "code of silence" at CCJ.

Walker's evidence is insufficient to preclude summary judgment on this issue. Aside from his own testimony, Walker primarily relies on a 2003 grand jury investigation that examined 783 complaints of excessive force over the 5-year period from 1998 to 2003 to support his claim.*fn3 That investigation, however, did not result in the issuance of any indictments. And, while the investigation revealed that, of the 355 files opened by the sheriff involving officers for on-the-job offenses, 18 of the 33 sustained were for excessive force, this fact does not demonstrate that claims were not adequately investigated. Walker also alleges inadequate training, but "the inadequacy of police training may serve as the basis for § 1983 liability only where the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of persons with whom the police come into contact." Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388 (1989). Here, the training received by the correctional officers imposes limitations on the amount of force that the officers may use. The defendants have also consistently stated that the sheriff's office trains them to use only as much force as necessary in each situation. Finally, Walker's evidence is insufficient to establish a "code of silence." The evidence shows that CCJ officers have been disciplined for the use of force and are trained to intervene and file a report if they observe a co-worker attack a detainee. Based on this evidence, a reasonable jury could not find for Walker on his Monell claims.

Related to this issue is the question of whether the district court properly denied Walker's requests for additional discovery to support his Monell claims. Specifically, Walker sought to interview and photograph other detainees who claimed to have been attacked by CCJ officers, depose another detainee and two officers, inter-view a defense witness on various topics, compel production of additional documents from the 2003 grand jury investigation, and extend discovery. We review such rulings for an abuse of discretion. Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 761 (7th Cir. 2007). A court does not abuse its discretion unless: (1) the record contains no evidence upon which the court could have rationally based its decision; (2) the decision is based on an erroneous conclusion of law; (3) the decision is based on clearly erroneous factual findings; or (4) the decision clearly appears arbitrary. The complaining party must also establish that the district court's decision resulted in "actual and substantial prejudice." Id.

Ample evidence in the record supports the district court's rulings on these issues. For example, the record shows that some deposition requests were denied because Walker could not state that those witnesses had information relevant to the specific incidents involved or to CCJ's policies and procedures. And, as for the grand jury documents, Walker glosses over the fact that he received the final 2003 grand jury report and exhibits, which alone consisted of over 6,000 pages. In addition, Walker deposed more than 25 of the named defendants, a program services representative, a Cermak representative, an expert, and multiple detainees at CCJ and other facili-ties. Because district courts are in the best position to decide the proper scope of discovery, see, e.g., Gile v. United Airlines, Inc., 95 F.3d ...


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