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Williams v. Blagojevich

February 4, 2010

CLAXTON H. WILLIAMS, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, RONALD MEEK, ROGER E. WALKER, CHARLES HENSLEY, ALAN UCHTMAN, WILLIAM SPILLER, M.D FAISAL AHMED, J. WITHOFT, J. INMAN, ROBINSON, SGT. CARTER, C/O FRITZ, AND C/O MURRAY, DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Claxton H. Williams, Jr., an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivation of rights secured to him by the United States Constitution.

By prior order, the Court distilled Williams's voluminous complaint - as to Defendants Rod R. Blagojevich, Ronald Meek, Roger E. Walker, Charles Hinsley, Alan Uchtman, William Spiller, Jerry Witthoft, John Inman, Ronald Robinson, John Carter, Joshua Fritz and Kevin Murray*fn1 - into four Counts:

Count 1: Against Defendants Robinson, Witthoft and Carter for using excessive force on Williams in violation of the Eighth Amendment;

Count 2: Against Defendants Robinson, Witthoft, Carter, Fritz and Murray for retaliating against Williams by beating or harassing him for filing grievances concerning the prison's "palms out" handcuffing policy;

Count 3: Against Defendants Inman, Uchtman, Spiller, Hinsley, Walker, Meek and Blagojevich, for having knowledge of the actions committed by Defendants in Counts 1 and 2, giving those Defendants a free hand and failing to take corrective actions; and Count 5: Against Defendant Robinson for denying Williams adequate medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Docs. 1 and 13).

The following factual allegations and undisputed documentary evidence underpin the claims at issue.

After being transferred from Stateville Correctional Center to Menard Correctional Center in February 2004, Williams learned that Menard officials would not honor a medical permit he had obtained at Stateville that allowed him to be handcuffed in a manner other than the usual "palms out" position. Correctional Officers Murray and Essray repeatedly clashed with Williams over the cuffing issue, and Williams was not allowed to shower unless he complied with the "palms out" procedure. Williams attempted to get Menard doctors to issue a special cuffing permit but was not successful until August 4, 2004.

Williams filed an initial grievance on March 4, 2004, regarding C/O Murray's refusing to recognize his Stateville cuffing permit and denying him showers, purportedly in retaliation for "what occurred [sic] at Stateville." (Doc. 83-2, pp. 1-2). On May 28, 2004, Williams lodged another grievance regarding the cuffing policy and denial of showers, generally reiterating his clashes with C/O Murray over the issue. (Doc. 83-2, pp. 10-11). An additional grievance regarding C/O Murray, the cuffing policy and denial of showers was filed on June 25, 2004, adding allegations that Murray was also getting other guards to do his bidding. (Doc. 96-1, pp. 19-20).

Williams contends that when he was granted a "double cuff" permit on August 4, 2004, his position was vindicated - which motivated correctional officers Robinson, Essray, Witthoft Carter, and Kishier to brutally assault him on August 6, 2004, in violation of both the Eighth and First Amendments. (See Doc. 96, p.1; 83-2, pp. 12-18). According to Williams, the retaliation continued after he filed a grievance on August 6, 2004, regarding the beating he had received. (Doc. 83-1, pp. 12-18).

Williams submits that he was also subjected to retaliation for filing the May 28, 2004, grievance, in that he was allegedly denied medical care by Robinson, served food trays with dirt and spit on them, and verbally harassed and manhandled by Essray, Murray, Robinson, Fritz and Witthoft.

Williams further contends that Defendants Inman, Uchtman, Spiller, Hinsley, Walker, Meek and Blagojevich all had actual knowledge of the aforementioned excessive force and retaliation, but permitted it to occur and failed to take corrective action.

According to Williams, all letters and grievances that he submitted regarding the issues in this case passed through Inman - who was cellhouse superintendent - and Inman had "general knowledge" of what was occurring. (Doc. 83-1, p. 13). Williams's March 11, 2004, grievance appears to have been reviewed by Assistant Warden of Security, Alan Uchtman, but Uchtman's signature appears to have been made by someone else (whose initials appear to be "LMC"). (Doc. 83-1, p. 14; Doc. 83-2, p. 8). Assistant Warden of Programs William Spiller was in charge of the Adjustment Committee that found Williams guilty of a disciplinary infraction stemming from the August 6, 2004, incident. (Doc. 83-1, p. 15). However, Williams admits that Spiller was not on the Committee that decided his disciplinary case, and Williams does not know what other relevant knowledge Spiller may have had.*fn2 (Doc. 83-1, p. 15). Warden Charles Hinsley was "cc'd" by an IDOC official and apparently was sent copies of a letter from Williams to Governor Blagojevich regarding Williams's March 11, 2004, grievance. (Doc. 83-2, p. 9; 83-1, p. 16). According to Williams, all grievances went through Warden Hinsley; in addition, Williams sent Hinsley letters and affidavits, and met with him in December 2004. (Doc. 83-1, pp. 17-18). IDOC Director Roger E. Walker, Jr., wrote to Williams acknowledging receipt of Williams's March 4, 2004, grievance, although Williams is unsure of what Walker actually receives and who may sign correspondence on his behalf. (Doc. 83-2, p. 5; Doc. 83-1, p. 18). Williams testified that he met with Warden Hinsley and IDOC Deputy Director Ronald Meek in December 2004 to discuss the August 6 incident. (Doc. 83-1, pp. 19 and 22). Williams notes that correspondence shows that his letter to Governor Blagojevich was received in the Governor's office and was then sent to IDOC Deputy Director Meek, who sent a copy to Warden Hinsley. (Doc. 96-1, pp. 75-79). Williams testified that he sued Blagojevich because Blagojevich has statutory authority to visit any prison where there are complaints. (Doc. 83-1, p. 19).

Defendants Rod R. Blagojevich, Ronald Meek, Roger E. Walker, Charles Hinsley, Alan Uchtman, William Spiller, Jerry Witthoft, John Inman, Ronald Robinson, John Carter, Joshua Fritz and Kevin Murray seek summary judgment on Williams's claims against them. (Doc. 82). In response, Williams filed an "affidavit"/"statement of disputed factual issues." (Doc. 96). Defendants filed a reply, claiming that Williams's response raises a new conspiracy claim against Defendants Robinson, Witthoft, Carter and Kishier (who has already been dismissed as Defendant herein). (Doc. 98). Defendants Robinson, Witthoft and Fritz have submitted affidavits reflecting that they did not "receive or review" grievances filed by Williams, and did not retaliate against Williams, or beat or harass him.*fn3 (Doc. 83-3, pp. 1-4).

For the sake of clarity, the Court summarizes Defendants' grounds for summary judgment as follows:

1. Defendants Robinson, Witthoft, Carter, Fritz and Murray assert that Williams has no evidence that they were notified of Williams's grievances dated March 4, 2004, March 11, 2004, May 28, 2004, and August 6, 2004, and no evidence the ...


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