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Comiskey v. Brown

July 14, 2009

BLAKE COMISKEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHARON BROWN, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court is the Defendant's unopposed summary judgment motion [36]. The Defendant, SHARON BROWN, by her attorneys, Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, and pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and CDIL-LR 7.1(D) seeks summary judgment.

Background

On December 20, 2007, Plaintiff, Blake Comiskey, filed his complaint against Sharon Brown. The complaint arises from Plaintiff's depression and anxiety with suicidal tendencies while incarcerated at the Macon County Jail ("Jail"). Plaintiff's complaint, brought under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleges that Defendant, Sharon Brown, did not provide treatment to Plaintiff while he was on suicide watch and that he was punished for his symptoms of suicidal tendencies by being placed in a cell without clothes, heat, bedding, and one-half rations. On February 4, 2008, this court held a merit review hearing regarding Plaintiff's Complaint. The court allowed the Plaintiff to proceed on his claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, that the Defendant was allegedly deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, and by punishing him for his request for medical attention. Defendant filed an Answer to the merit review order denying those allegations. Discovery has been conducted and concluded. For the reasons set forth below, Sharon is entitled to summary judgment.

Standard

Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Any discrepancies in the factual record should be evaluated in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

"Summary judgment is the 'put up or shut up' moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2000). A party opposing summary judgment bears the burden to respond, not simply by resting on its own pleading but by "set[ting] out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In order to be a "genuine" issue, there must be more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "If [the non-movant] does not [meet his burden], summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against [the non-movant]." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

Affidavits must be based on the personal knowledge of the affiant and "set out facts that would be admissible in evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (emphasis added). Personal knowledge may include inferences and opinions drawn from those facts. Visser v. Packer Eng. Assoc., Inc., 924 F.2d 655, 659 (7th Cir. 1991). "But the inferences and opinions must be grounded in observation or other first-hand personal experience. They must not be based on flights of fancy, speculations, hunches, intuitions or rumors remote from that experience." Visser, 924 F.2d at 659.

Undisputed Material Facts*fn1

1. Sharon Brown is an employee of Heritage Behavioral Health, Inc., in Decatur, Illinois (Brown Aff., ¶ 3, Exhibit 1).

2. Prior to working at Heritage Behavioral Health, Inc., Sharon Brown worked from 1993 to 2000 as a treatment counselor for the Illinois Department of Corrections. (Brown Aff., ¶ 5).

3. Sharon Brown possesses a Bachelors of Science degree in psychology and is not a licensed medical doctor nor able to prescribe medication. (Brown Aff., ¶¶ 6, 7, 8).

4. Sharon Brown has been employed by Heritage Behavioral Health, Inc., since May 1, 2000. (Brown Aff., ¶ 4).

5. The Macon County Jail hires outside contractors to provide mental health services to the inmates in the Macon County Jail. (Jones Aff., ¶ 6, Exhibit 2).

6. Likewise, the Macon County Jail contracts outside medical health providers to provide medical care for inmates at the Macon County Jail. (Jones Aff., ¶ 6).

7. Part of Sharon Brown's employment with Heritage Behavioral Health, Inc., is working at the Macon County Jail as a mental health counselor (hereafter "counselor"), providing mental health services. (Brown Aff., ¶ 4).

8. As a counselor, Sharon Brown is responsible for evaluating and assessing mentally ill inmates and inmates with substance abuse issues, in addition to performing immediate crisis intervention assistance at the Macon County Jail. (Brown Aff., ¶ 4).

9. Sharon Brown worked as a counselor in November and December of 2006 at the Macon County Jail. Her regular work hours were from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Brown Aff., ¶ 9).

10. Sharon Brown was on vacation and not physically at the Macon County Jail from December 7, 2006 through December 17, 2006. (Brown Aff., ¶ 47).

11. On October 31, 2006, Blake Comiskey became an inmate at the Macon County Jail. (Jones Aff., ¶ 18); (Comiskey Dep., pgs. 7, 15, Exhibit 3).

12. When Blake Comiskey was booked into the Macon County Jail, he did not convey that he was having suicidal thoughts, nor did he convey or appear to have anything physically wrong with him at the time. (Comiskey Dep., pgs. 14, 15).

13. On November 29, 2006, Correctional Officer Patrick Smith was assigned to the housing area of the Macon County Jail, Trod Number1, where Inmate Blake Comiskey was being housed. (Smith Aff., ¶¶ 3, 6, Exhibit 4).

14. On November 29, 2006, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Inmate Blake Comiskey told Correctional Officer Smith he was feeling stressed and wanted to be moved to segregation. (Smith Aff., ¶ 7).

15. Correctional Officer Smith advised Blake Comiskey that segregation was full. (Smith Aff., ¶ 7).

16. At that time, Blake Comiskey told Correctional Officer Smith that he was depressed and suicidal. (Smith Aff., ¶ 8); (Comiskey Dep., pgs. 16 -17, 56).

17. Under Macon County Jail policies and procedures, if an inmate of the Macon County Jail states to a correctional officer that he is suicidal, the correctional officer takes the inmate to an intake holding cell and he is placed on a suicide watch. (Jones Aff., ¶ 8); (Smith Aff., ¶ 9); (Comiskey Dep., pg. 16).

18. After stating he was suicidal, Blake Comiskey was taken to an intake holding cell and placed on a suicide watch pursuant to the Macon County Jail policies and procedures. (Smith Aff., ¶ 10); (Jones Aff., ¶ 19); (Comiskey Dep., pgs. 16, 56).

19. Under Macon County Jail policies and procedures, the mental health department is notified after an inmate is taken to an intake holding cell and placed on suicide watch, and mental health will advise whether an inmate should remain on a suicide watch. (Jones Aff., ¶ 8).

20. After Comiskey was taken to an intake holding cell and placed on suicide watch, a referral was made to the mental health department of the Macon County Jail notifying that Comiskey had made suicidal threats and thereafter been placed on suicide watch. (Smith Aff., ¶ 11).

21. Additionally, to allow Comiskey to receive his medications and monitor his well being, the medical department of the Macon County Jail was notified that Inmate Comiskey was in an intake holding cell and on suicide watch. (Smith Aff., ¶ 11); (Brown Aff., ¶ 21).

22. Macon County Jail abides by the same suicide watch policies and procedures for all inmates who are put on suicide watch. (Jones Aff., ¶ 15).

23. Under Macon County Jail policies and procedures, an inmate who is placed on suicide watch in the Macon County Jail is not permitted to wear any clothing other than a suicide smock provided to him. (Jones Aff., ¶ 9).

24. A suicide smock is a gown-like garment made of very thick material that is very difficult to rip or shred in any way that might allow an inmate to use the shreds as a tool of suicide. (Jones Aff., ¶ 9); (Brown Aff., ¶ 43).

25. After Comiskey was placed on suicide watch, he was not permitted to wear any clothing other than the suicide smock provided to him while he remained on suicide watch. (Jones Aff., ¶¶ 9, 23); (Comiskey Dep., pgs. 16, 30).

26. Under Macon County Jail policies and procedures, an inmate who is placed on suicide watch is not provided a mattress, as mattresses are capable of being ripped and being used as a tool of suicide. (Jones Aff., ¶ 10).

27. Pursuant to Macon County Jail suicide watch policies and procedures, Comiskey, while on suicide watch, was not provided a mattress. (Jones Aff., ¶ 24).

28. Under Macon County Jail policies and procedures, an inmate who is placed on suicide watch is placed by himself in the booking area in an intake cell where they can be routinely monitored with increased frequency. Pursuant to Macon County Jail policies and procedures, an inmate on suicide watch is monitored every 15 minutes by a visual check on his or her status in the cell. (Jones Aff., ¶ 11); (Brown Aff., ¶ 14).

29. While Comiskey was on suicide watch, he was housed in an intake cell, where he was monitored every 15 minutes pursuant to the Macon County Jail policies and procedures. (Jones Aff., ¶ 25).

30. The heating and cooling in the Macon County Jail are controlled by the Decatur Public Building Commission, the Macon County Jail's landlord. (Jones Aff., ¶ 16).

31. The heating and cooling condition in intake cell number 5, and all cells within the booking area, all jail cells, and the entire Macon County Jail, is under the Decatur Public Building Commission's control. (Jones Aff., ¶ 16).

32. The cells in the Macon County Jail are not individually temperature controlled. (Jones Aff., ¶ 17).

33. The same heat flows through the cells and the booking area, including the intake cells used to place the inmates on suicide watch. (Jones Aff., ¶ 17).

34. Sharon Brown has no control over the heating or cooling conditions in the Macon County Jail, or any of the cells, including the intake cell where Blake Comiskey was housed during his suicide watch. (Brown Aff., ¶ 39).

35. Sharon Brown was not at the Macon County Jail on the night of November 29, 2006. (Brown Aff., ¶ 12); See (UMF ¶ 14).

36. When a mental health crisis arose, and a counselor was not present at the Macon County Jail, either Sharon Brown or another counselor would be called for crisis intervention. (Brown Aff., ¶¶ 10, 46).

37. If another counselor did a mental health crisis intervention in Sharon Brown's absence, that counselor would place a memorandum of the meeting with the inmate in Sharon Brown's mailbox, providing an update on the status of the inmate. (Brown Aff., ¶ 11).

38. Since Sharon Brown was not at the Macon County Jail on the night of November 29, 2006, another counselor, Edna Morgan, engaged in mental health crisis intervention with Blake Comiskey in response to his stated intent to commit suicide. (Brown Aff., ¶ 16).

39. Sharon Brown worked at the Macon County Jail on November 30, 2006, the day after Blake Comiskey was placed on suicide watch. (Brown Aff., ¶ 12); (Smith Aff., ¶¶ 8, 10).

40. On November 30, 2006, Sharon Brown was informed that the night before, November 29, 2006, Blake Comiskey told a correctional officer that he was suicidal, and in response was moved to an intake cell in the booking area and placed on suicide watch pursuant to Macon County Jail policies and procedures. (Brown Aff., ¶¶ 13, 15).

41. On November 30, 2006, Sharon Brown received a copy of Edna Morgan's memorandum of her crisis intervention meeting with Blake Comiskey. According to the report Sharon Brown received, on November 29, 2006, Blake Comiskey stated that "he was going to die ...


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