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Forrest v. Prine

September 4, 2009

ROGER A. FORREST, JR., PLAINTIFF
v.
MICHAEL PRINE AND MICHAEL HUFF, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Gorman United States Magistrate Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

The parties have consented to have this case heard to judgment by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and the District Judge has referred the case to me. Now before the Court are: Defendant Michael Prine's Motion for Summary Judgment (#64); and Defendant Michael Huff's Motion for Summary Judgment (#66). The motions are fully briefed, and I have carefully considered the arguments and evidence presented by the parties. As explained below, both motions are granted. In addition, Prine has filed a motion for oral argument (#65), which is denied as moot.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GENERALLY

The purpose of summary judgment is to "pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment should be entered if and only if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Jay v. Intermet Wagner Inc., 233 F.3d 1014, 1016 (7th Cir.2000); Cox v. Acme Health Serv., 55 F.3d 1304, 1308 (7th Cir. 1995).

In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court may not weigh the evidence or resolve issues of fact; disputed facts must be left for resolution at trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986). The court's role in deciding the motion is not to sift through the evidence, pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to believe. Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir.1994). The court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial.

The court is to examine all admissible facts, viewing the entirety of the record and accepting all facts and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant, Erdman v. City of Ft. Atkinson, 84 F.3d 960, 961 (7th Cir. 1996), and construing any doubts against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970).

If the undisputed facts indicate that no reasonable jury could find for the party opposing the motion, then summary judgment must be granted. Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995), citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the non-moving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, then summary judgment is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Waldridge, 24 F.3d at 920.

UNDISPUTED FACTS

The following facts are taken from the parties' statements of undisputed facts, the responses and replies thereto, and the evidence submitted in support.

On March 8, 2007, Rock Island police were dispatched to the home of Roger Forrest after receiving a 911 call from his minor son, who claimed Forrest was hitting people in their home. Roger Forrest at the time was 42 years old. He was just under 6' tall and weighed 280 pounds. When the police arrived, they found, Forrest vehemently uncooperative, and the officers were required to enter the home forcefully. Once inside, an altercation occurred, and Forrest struck one of the officers in the face. Before the officers were successful in gaining control of Forrest, they had used tasers on Forrest 3 or 4 times.

Once Forrest was in the squad car, he was taken to the Rock Island County jail for booking. Somewhere between 3 and 7 police officers arrived at the jail with Forrest. They informed the correctional officers, including defendant Michael Prine, that Forrest was being charged with aggravated battery to a police officer and domestic violence, and that he had already been tased several times by the police officers. Forrest claims that he was cooperative at the jail until the underlying events began*fn1.

Forrest alleges in his complaint that he "is visibly disabled due to work injuries" and he testified that he walks with a cane. His cousin, CO. Roberts, has seen him using a cane in the past but there is no evidence that he was using a cane at the jail, nor is there any evidence that anyone at the jail saw him limp, observed that he had difficulty walking, or were told that he had a bad knee. In fact, Forrest himself testified that he was in his cell pacing back and forth. Regardless, this disability is not material to the issues in this motion, so who knew what about it is of no import.

At the Rock Island County jail, it is mandatory procedure that any person charged with a felony or a drug charge must submit to a complete strip search as part of the booking process, in order to ensure that no weapons or drugs are brought into the jail and that there is no threat to the safety of the arrestee or the correctional officers. The standard procedure requires the prisoner to remove all his clothing, stick out his tongue, lift his arms over his head, turn around, lift his testicles, bend over, spread his cheeks, squat down and cough, and lift up the bottoms of his feet.

Once inside the jail, Forrest was led to a holding cell, still handcuffed. In the holding cell with him were Correctional Officers Michael Mendoza and Patrick Roberts, both of whom. believed that, based on his appearances, Forrest was under the influence of alcohol. The officers removed the handcuffs once Forrest was in the cell, and ordered him to undress. Forrest began taking off his clothes, but he refused to remove his underwear and complete the strip search. Correctional Officer Roberts*fn2 walked out of the cell. Mendoza issued several more orders but Forrest remained non-compliant, refusing to remove his underwear. At that point, Sergeant Christopher Young directed Correctional Officer Prine to step in with his taser. Prine entered the doorway of the cell and Mendoza stepped out. Prine, who is 6'1" tall and at the time weighed 295 pounds*fn3 , ordered Forrest to remove his underwear and comply with the strip search.

According to CO's who were present, Forrest continued to refuse to comply and continued to be verbally combative, swearing at Prine and calling him offensive names in a loud voice. At no time, however, did he make any kind of threatening movement that would indicate he was an immediate physical threat to Prine or the other officers. He remained at the back of the cell, 6 to 10 feet away from Prine, who remained at the front of the cell.

Forrest asserts that there was a female officer outside his cell, which is why he refused to comply with the orders to remove his underwear and complete the strip search*fn4 . This fact is disputed.

Roberts testified that one female officer was present when Forrest was first brought in, but she was asked to leave when the strip search was ordered. Neither Mendoza nor Prine recalled there being a female officer present at any time. According to Prine, there were only two female CO's on duty on March 8, 2007. Both of these officers have submitted affidavits, asserting that one of them was assigned to a post on the second floor and one to the main control. Neither was, according to their ...


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