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Levi v. Wilts

September 4, 2009

RONALD LEVI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRENDA WILTS, KEITH ROSE, AND DAVE BIERMANN, DEFENDANTS.



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

Order

Plaintiff, who is being held at Rushville Treatment and Detention Center, alleges that his handcuffs were placed so tightly on his wrists during a six-hour transport in December 2007 from Cook County to Rushville that his wrists became swollen to twice their size. He alleges that he is diabetic, his pleas to loosen the cuffs were ignored, and that he has suffered permanent injury to his hand and wrist.

Before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment, which is granted in part and denied in part for the reasons below. Plaintiff's motion to compel is also before the court, which is granted in part and denied in part.

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). 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 determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992).

Undisputed Facts

These facts are taken verbatim from the defendants' proposed undisputed facts, to the extent not sufficiently disputed by the plaintiff.

1. Levi is detained by the Department pursuant to the SVP Act.

2. Defendant Biermann was employed as a Security Therapy Aid-IV ("STA-IV") at the Rushville TDF for the times relevant to this action.

3. Defendant Rose was employed as a Security Therapy Aid-I ("STA-I") at the Rushville TDF for the times relevant to this action.

4. Defendant Wilts was employed as a Security Therapy Aid-II ("STA-II") at the Rushville TDF for the times relevant to this action.

5. On December 19, 2007, Levi was on a writ to the Circuit Court of Cook County. When the court appearance was over, Plaintiff avers that Defendant Rose purposely tightened Plaintiff's right hand cuff too tight. Plaintiff told Rose that the handcuffs were too tight, to which Rose replied, "They could be tighter." According to Plaintiff, he was then led outside where he complained to other DHS staff that his cuffs were too tight (Stanton and Hall), who referred Plaintiff to Defendant Wilts. Wilts then declared that the restraints were alright without checking them. (Plaintiff Aff.).

6. When Plaintiff arrived back at Rushville, he avers that his hand was "seriously swollen and [he] was in great pain." (Plaintiff Aff.). He estimates that his hand was swollen to twice its normal size. A Rushville sergeant opened the door and Plaintiff cried out, "Look at my hand!". According to Plaintiff, the sergeant "just looked" at Rose and Wilt and told Plaintiff he could go to the health care unit. Another officer--Stanton-- then removed the handcuffs and Plaintiff went to the health care unit. Plaintiff asserts that he now suffers arthritis and tendinitis as a result of the too-tight cuffs.*fn1 Plaintiff filed a grievance but it was denied on the grounds that Plaintiff's claim of severe swelling was unsubstantiated by the medical records, and because Wilts had stated that he applied the cuffs per procedure, and Rose said that she had checked the cuffs and they were not too tight.

7. Levi was examined by Nurse Brown in the healthcare unit on December 19, 2007. Levi's wrists did not bleed as a result of the application of restraints, he asserts only because he was able to pull is sleeve between his skin and the handcuff. Nurse Brown noted redness and slight swelling of Levi's right wrist with good radial pulse and capillary refill of nailbeds, which indicated adequate circulation. Plaintiff asserts that the swelling was more than slight and he had circulation because by then the cuffs hand been taken off. Levi was provided with a bag for ice and was advised to apply the ice pack to his right wrist/hand every 15 minutes for the next 24 hours. Levi was advised to follow up with the healthcare unit if he experienced any further problems. Levi goes to healthcare twice a day for insulin for his diabetes and was told at those visits to keep applying ice.

8. Defendant Rose has no specific recollection of any incident alleged to have occurred on December 19, 2007. Rose avers, however, that he would not have applied the black box to Levi in a manner that would have restricted circulation because he routinely makes sure that the restraints allow for sufficient movement by placing his index finger between the resident's wrist and the restraint. Plaintiff disputes this, asserting if that were true, then Plaintiff would not have been injured.

9. Defendant Wilts avers that she checked the security devices for proper fit and security, and that she saw no evidence that the restraints were applied too tightly or that Plaintiff was in extreme discomfort, but Plaintiff disputes this.

10. Defendant Biermann was not present when the black box was applied to Levi, nor was Defendant Biermann present during Levi's transport back to the Rushville TDF on December 19, 2007. Levi named Defendant Biermann as a defendant because he alleges that Defendant Biermann failed to investigate or discipline Defendants Rose and Wilts for injuries that Levi had already sustained and for which ...


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