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Coleman v. Kirk

June 10, 2009

DWAINE MARCUS COLEMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SGT. KIRK, SGT. UCHECK, LT. MERCADO, SGT. DAVIS, OFFICER AUSTIN, AND SGT. NOVARRO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Gettleman United States District Judge

Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Dwaine Marcus Coleman brought this action alleging violations of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, while he was a pretrial detainee at the Lake County Correctional Center ("LCCC"). The court previously dismissed most of the defendants and most of the counts. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, defendants Lake County Sheriffs, Officer Kingsley Austin and Lt. Megan Mercado, have moved for summary judgment on the two remaining counts: Count VI against Officer Austin for engaging in an alleged pattern of "assault, harassment, and intimidating behavior" toward plaintiff in May 2007 and against Lt. Mercado for allegedly failing to investigate plaintiff's complaints of Officer Austin's alleged behavior; and Count IX against Lt. Mercado for placing plaintiff in the Administrative Segregation Unit ("ASU") without a due process hearing. Plaintiff has also moved for summary judgment on Count IX. For the reasons discussed below, the remaining defendants' motion for summary judgment on Counts VI and IX is granted, and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on Count IX is denied.

FACTS ESTABLISHED FROM THE RECORD*fn1

During all relevant times plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Lake County Correctional Center. Plaintiff arrived at LCCC on January 2, 2007. Plaintiff was initially housed in the General Population unit, where he was freely mobile and could interact with 40 to 60 other General Population inmates. Upon entry to LCCC, all inmates are classified*fn2 and most inmates are initially assigned to a General Population pod. Other inmates are assigned to the Administrative Segregation Unit, where they are confined to their cells for 23 hours a day and are served their meals through chuckholes*fn3 in the cell doors. Inmates in ASU are allotted one hour out of their cell each day, during which they are free to talk with other inmates, exercise, shower, or use the phone. Inmates are assigned to ASU for one of three reasons: (1) disciplinary reasons*fn4 , (2) protective custody status, or (3) administrative reasons.*fn5 Inmates in ASU for disciplinary reasons have limited privileges and are denied access to the television, commissary, outdoor recreation, or out-of-pod activities. Other inmates in ASU "may" have access to various programs and services that include, but are not limited to education services, commissary services, library services, social services, counseling services, religious guidance, recreational programs, and telephone access.

On April 18, 2007, plaintiff received notice that he was accused of a major rule violation. This alleged rule violation came on the heels of a number of other violations plaintiff started to commit shortly after his arrival at LCCC.*fn6 On May 4, 2007, plaintiff pled guilty to major rule violations of Interfering with Staff Duties and Committing Any Act that Disrupts the Orderly Operation of the Facility. On May 7, LCCC's Disciplinary Committee sanctioned plaintiff to ASU until June 2, 2007 (the "out-date").

On May 21, 2007, while plaintiff was still in ASU, LCCC's classification committee classified plaintiff as Status 2, based on reports of plaintiff's various rules infractions, reported verbal and physical threats of harm towards corrections officers, numerous disciplinary hearings, and various temporary detentions in ASU, none of which resulted in improved behavior. Plaintiff was notified of this status change via a letter signed by defendant Lt. Mercado, which stated that the change was "due to [plaintiff's] being disruptive and not complying with the rules and regulations administered by the Jail." The letter also stated that "failing to remove [plaintiff] from general population would present a danger to the staff, [plaintiff], or other inmates." As a result of this re-classification, plaintiff was not released from ASU on June 2, 2007.*fn7

On May 12, 2007, food service to the inmates in ASU was delayed because an ASU inmate required medical attention. The delay caused the food to become cold, and many inmates complained. In a form of protest, plaintiff placed his arms out of his chuckhole preventing defendant, Officer Austin, from closing and securing the chuckhole door. Despite Officer Austin's requests, plaintiff refused to remove his arms from the chuckhole, demanded a warm meal, and expressed a desire to speak with Command officers about the situation. Officer Austin disregarded plaintiff's requests and waited, out of plaintiff's view, for plaintiff to remove his arms. After some time, Officer Austin thought plaintiff was removing his arms from the area and snuck up and closed the chuckhole. As plaintiff had not yet fully-removed his hands from the area, his thumb was caught when Officer Austin closed and secured the chuckhole door. Plaintiff's thumb was red and leaking a little blood. A nurse, who was making rounds in ASU around the time of plaintiff's injury, adequately treated plaintiff's thumb with a Band-Aid, antibiotic ointment, and Tylenol. She did not observe any signs or symptoms to indicate that plaintiff suffered a serious injury. Plaintiff did not seek any further medical treatment for his thumb, and his thumb has since completely healed. He does not experience any lingering pain or limitations.

On May 12, immediately following the thumb incident, plaintiff filed a grievance, reporting Officer Austin's conduct that caused his thumb injury. The grievance was forwarded to defendant Lt. Mercado, who informed plaintiff that the matter would be investigated. Lt. Mercado ordered an investigation and, pursuant to LCCC's rules, the investigating sergeant reported his findings to the commander who was on duty at the time. The sergeant interviewed Officer Austin and determined that Officer Austin was not at fault for plaintiff's injury.

Plaintiff filed a second grievance on May 20, reporting further, unspecified harassment by Officer Austin. Defendant Lt. Mercado took no action on this second grievance, as it did not appear to be valid.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

A movant is entitled to summary judgment under Rule 56 when the moving papers and affidavits show there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Unterreiner v. Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 8 F.3d 1206, 1209 (7th Cir. 1993). When considering cross-motions for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion under consideration. O'Regan v. Arbitration Forums, Inc., 246 F.3d 975, 983 (7th Cir. 2001). Once a moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assocs., Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir. 1990). The court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Fisher v. Transco Services-Milwaukee, Inc., 979 F.2d 1239, 1242 (7th Cir. 1992).

A genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Stewart v. McGinnis, 5 F.3d 1031, 1033 (7th Cir. 1993). However, the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmoving party's] ...


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