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Hairston v. Milton

July 30, 2009

SHAUNTEZ HAIRSTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MIKAL MILTON, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

A. Introduction

Shauntez Hairston, a detainee at St. Clair County (Illinois) Jail, filed a civil right suit in this Court two year ago under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Hairston complained that Mikal Milton, a corrections officer at the County Jail, beat and used excessive force against him, thereby violating rights secured to Hairston by the federal constitution. Hairston's pro se complaint prayed for $200,000 in damages (for emotional distress), $1,000,000 (in pain and suffering), and the transfer of Milton to another "department" (Doc. 1, p. 6).

The case survived threshold review in January 2008*fn1, preliminary motions were filed and ruled on, and Hairston filed an amended complaint. Milton answered the amended complaint, and a Scheduling Order was entered in July 2008. Additional motions followed.

In November 2008, the Magistrate Judge assigned to the case (the Honorable Donald G. Wilkerson) appointed counsel for Hairston (attorney Stephen D. Smith), and entered an amended Scheduling Order to permit additional discovery, as well as the filing of fresh dispositive motions. The schedule was extended again in January 2009 (see Doc. 49).

With leave of Court, Hairston filed a second amended complaint on June 1, 2009. That amendment did not moot a freshly-filed but (at that time) not fully-briefed summary judgment motion. The summary judgment motion, filed by Plaintiff Hairston and responded to by Defendant Milton (Docs. 56 & 63), comes now before the Court.

For the reasons explained below, the undersigned District Judge DENIES the motion.

B. Applicable Legal Standards

Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Breneisen v. Motorola, Inc., 512 F.3d 972 (7th Cir. 2008), citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986), and Krieg v. Seybold, 481 F.3d 512, 516 (7th Cir. 2007). Accord Levy v. Minnesota Life Ins. Co., 517 F.3d 519 (7th Cir. 2008).

In ruling on a summary judgment motion, this Court must view the evidence and all inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. TAS Distributing Co., Inc. v. Cummins Engine Co., Inc., 491 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2007); Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 764 (7th Cir. 2007).

However, the non-movant "must present specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial," Jordan v. Summers, 205 F.3d 337, 247 (7th Cir. 2000). And the Court can finda genuine issue of material fact "only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists [which would] permit a jury to return a verdict for that party." Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 594 F.3d 724, 732 (7th Cir. 2008), quoting Sides v. City of Champaign, 496 F.3d 820, 726 (7th Cir. 2007). The Court now turns to the standards governing Hairston's claimin this case and what the record contains regarding his claim.

Hairston was (and is) a pretrial detainee at a county jail, not a prisoner who has been sentenced to serve time in a penal institution. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has explained that although the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution does not apply to pretrial detainees, "pretrial detainees are entitled to at least as much protection as the constitution provides convicted prisoners." Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 477-78 (7th Cir. 2005).

Seventh Circuit opinions have looked to Eighth Amendment standards when analyzing deliberate indifference and excessive force claims brought by detainees. In Wilson v. Williams, 83 F.3d 870, 876-77 (7th Cir. 1996), the Seventh Circuit reasoned:

Between the status of free citizen and convicted prisoner lies the "pretrial detainee," protected by the due process ...


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