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Delandis Adams v. Deirdre Battaglia

May 24, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman

Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole



Plaintiff Delandis Adams ("Plaintiff" or "Adams") filed this action against defendants Deirdre Battaglia, Rodney Brady, and Larry Stigler (collectively "Defendants") alleging violation of Adams' Eighth Amendment rights arising from a routine shakedown at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") on September 1, 2005, during which Adams was handcuffed for over five hours in restraints that Adams claims were too tight. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 arguing that the undisputed facts entitle them to judgment as a matter of law [131]. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.


The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise specified. Plaintiff Delandis Adams, B69320, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Dee Battaglia, Rodney Brady, and Larry Stigler alleging cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Pl. First Amend. Compl.) Plaintiff is serving an eighty-year sentence for murder and aggravated kidnapping. At all relevant times, plaintiff was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois. On September 1, 2005, Dee Battaglia was the Warden of Stateville, Rodney Brady was the Northern SORT Commander for the Illinois Department of Corrections and was in command of the tactical operations, and Larry Stigler was a Sergeant correctional officer.

On September 1, 2005, a facility-wide "mass" shakedown was performed at Stateville to search for illegal drugs and contraband. During a mass shakedown, such as this, the prison is placed on the most restrictive level of security, known as a level one lockdown. Prisoners are not handcuffed during normal operating procedures. Mass shakedowns and level one lockdowns are not normal operating procedures. During a mass shakedown, inmates are handcuffed for purposes of security, custody, and control. To fit different sized people, handcuffs have a ratcheting system that makes them adjustable.

Plaintiff alleges that because of his size (six feet tall and over 300 pounds), and because of medical problems with his wrists, he needed either a double set of handcuffs or an extra large set of handcuffs. Plaintiff alleges that during the September 1, 2005, mass shakedown he was placed in a single-set of regular handcuffs that were too tight and cut into his wrists. Plaintiff does not know whether he had a current valid medical permit specifying that he should be handcuffed differently. Plaintiff's handcuffs were removed when he was returned to his cell at the end of the shakedown.

Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he complained to approximately twenty correctional officers that his handcuffs were too tight and they were hurting his wrists. Defendant Stigler's responsibilities during the shakedown included monitoring the gymnasium and the yard where the inmates were held and ensuring that the staff assigned to him carried out their duties. Defendant Stigler offered and tried to loosen plaintiff's handcuffs after plaintiff complained they were too tight. At his deposition, defendant Brady testified that if, during a mass shakedown, he learns that an inmate's handcuffs are too tight for him given his size, he would put the inmate in two pairs of handcuffs instead of one pair. None of the defendants recalled having a conversation with plaintiff.

Plaintiff was examined at the health care unit on September 9, 2005. Plaintiff testified that the nurse and doctor that examined him observed that his wrist was lacerated, swollen and numb. Dr. Aguinaldo saw plaintiff on September 15, 2005, for complaints of numbness in his left wrist that had lasted for two weeks. Dr. Aguinaldo did not find swelling or tenderness in plaintiff's left wrist. Dr. Aguilnaldo testified at his deposition that handcuffs can cause compression injuries and possible nerve damage, but he could not give any opinion as to what caused plaintiff's wrist pain. Dr. Aguinaldo saw plaintiff for a follow-up examination on September 29, 2005. Plaintiff still complained of numbness. Dr. Powers, the medical director at Tamms Supermax Facility, saw plaintiff on September 15, 2006, for complaints of a numb left wrist. To rule out a nerve injury, Dr. Powers will do a grip test, use a neurological pinwheel, inspect the area for swelling and bruising and do range of motion tests. A "neurological pinwheel" is a wheel of pins on the end of a six-inch handle that is rolled over the surface of a patient's skin to determine the location of reduced sensation. If Dr. Powers suspects a nerve injury, he would refer the patient to a specialist. On February 9, 2007, Adams saw Dr. Aguinaldo again for numbness in his left wrist. Dr. Aguilnaldo performed a grip test and found weakness in Adams' left hand, which he attributed to "post-traumatic" pain. Dr. Zhang saw plaintiff on December 29, 2009, June 1, 2009, and April 27, 2010, for his wrist pain, but could not give an opinion as to what was causing plaintiff's wrist pain. Plaintiff was also seen by Dr. Ngu at Stateville for complaints related to his wrist. On April 16, 2010, Dr. Gosh issued plaintiff a six month medical permit for front handcuffing based on chronic wrist pain.

There are three main nerves in the wrist. Damage to these nerves can result in symptoms of decreased sensation, numbness, tingling, and diminished grip. A compression injuring can occur to the wrist nerves if a person is forced to wear handcuffs that are too tight for an extended period of time. Removing the handcuffs shortly after symptoms begin can prevent a compression injury to one of the nerves in the wrist.

Legal Standard

A party is entitled to summary judgment if all of "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials of file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Abdullahi v. City of Madison, 423 F. 3d 763, 773 (7th Cir. 2005). The party who bears the burden of proof on an issue may not rest on the pleadings or mere speculation, but must affirmatively ...

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