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Hilton Lloyd Keller v. Brad Thomas

October 21, 2011

HILTON LLOYD KELLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRAD THOMAS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donald G. Wilkerson United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment on Exhaustion and Qualified Immunity (Doc. 37) filed by Defendants Jack Ashby, Thomas Drake, Tracy Lee, Anthony Lochhead, Matthew Purdon, Shane Sulser and Brad Thomas. Plaintiff Hilton Lloyd Keller filed an Opposition to the motion (Doc. 47), and Defendants filed a Reply (Doc. 48). For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

Factual Background

Plaintiff Hilton Lloyd Keller, an inmate currently incarcerated at Hill Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that on December 12, 2009, while an inmate at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), he was attacked by his cellmate. Prior to this attack, Plaintiff made several unsuccessful requests to Defendants Anthony Lochhead, Thomas Drake, Shane Sulser and Matthew Purdom asking to be moved away from his violent cellmate. These requests were denied. After the attack, Plaintiff again requested that Defendants Lochhead, Drake, Sulser and Purdom move him to a different cell. Again, these requests were denied (Docs. 1, 5).

On January 5, 2010, Plaintiff was again attacked by his cellmate, resulting in a black eye, a swollen jaw, scratches, a cracked tooth, and a deep bite mark on his shoulder. Plaintiff once again asked that Defendants Lochhead, Drake, Sulser and Purdom move him, but this request was again denied. Plaintiff then requested that Defendants Lochhead, Drake, Sulser and Purdom take him to receive medical attention, but this request was also denied (Docs. 1, 5).

Plaintiff then began a letter writing campaign to complain about this mistreatment. One of those letters was sent to the Director of the Illinois State Police, an unnamed party. On March 23, 2010, Plaintiff was called into a meeting with Defendant Brad Thomas, who questioned Plaintiff regarding the contents of the letter. Defendant Thomas then told Plaintiff that because of the letter, Plaintiff would be receiving a disciplinary ticket for fighting (Docs. 1, 5).

On March 31, 2010, Plaintiff was seen by the adjustment committee, which consisted of Defendants Jack Ashby and Tracy Lee. Despite Plaintiff's assertion that he was not an active participant in the fight, he was found guilty and sent to segregation (Docs. 1, 5).

Plaintiff attached copies of two grievances to his Complaint. The first grievance is dated February 18, 2010 (Doc. 1). In the grievance, Plaintiff details the attacks by his cellmate on December 12, 2009 and January 5, 2010. He explains that he made repeated requests to Defendants Sulser, Drake, Lochhead and Purdom before and after these attacks to be moved to a different cell because he feared for his safety. Plaintiff states that his repeated requests for medical attention went unanswered. He references letters that he sent to various staff members about his concerns, none of which were responded to. Plaintiff states that he had previously filed this identical grievance "at least 13 times," as an emergency grievance on four occasions, and as a regular grievance on nine occasions. Plaintiff states that he never received a response to any of the grievances (Doc. 1).

The second grievance is dated April 1, 2010. In the grievance, Plaintiff details the disciplinary charge he received on March 23, 2010 for fighting.Plaintiff also describes his letter writing campaign to the Director of the Illinois State Police Department, which he alleges, resulted in him being issued a disciplinary ticket from Defendant Thomas for fighting. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Thomas threatened to issue a disciplinary charge because of his letter writing campaign. He also argued that his complaints were not being taken seriously by the staff at Menard (Doc. 1).

Plaintiff also attached the affidavits of three inmates who averred that correctional officers at Menard regularly destroy inmate grievances and never send responses to the grievances (Doc. 1).

On threshold review, the Court divided the Complaint into three counts: Count I for Failure to Protect against Defendants Lochhead, Drake, Sulser and Purdom; Count II for Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs against Defendants Lochhead, Drake, Sulser and Purdom; and (3) Count III for Retaliation against Defendants Thomas, Ashby and Lee. (Doc. 5).

Procedural History

On May 20, 2011, Defendants Ashby, Drake, Lee, Lochhead, Purdom, Sulser and Thomas filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Exhaustion and Qualified Immunity (Doc. 37). In the motion, Defendants argue that there is not proof that Plaintiff filed a grievance on February 18, 2010 relating to the claims in this action. Defendants contend that Plaintiff filed only two grievances related to these claims, and neither grievance was appealed to the Administrative Review Board ("ARB").

The first grievance, dated January 14, 2010, describes the January 5, 2010 attack by Plaintiff's cellmate. In the grievance, Plaintiff states that, prior to this attack, his cellmate had told the Mental Health Unit that he ...


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