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Billy Richmond v. Thomas Dart

December 11, 2012

BILLY RICHMOND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS DART, RICHARD CASTRO,
DUANE COLLINS, ANTONIO IMHOF, ROBERT LUCAS, EARL TUCKER, AND
COUNTY OF COOK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Billy Richmond has sued Cook County, County Sheriff Thomas Dart, and Cook County Department of Corrections employees Richard Castro, Duane Collins, Antonio Imhof, Robert Lucas, and Earl Tucker. He contends that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference in failing to move him from Tier 4B of Division 1 of the Cook County Jail and in responding to an attack on him while he was being held as a pretrial detainee at the Jail on August 20, 2010. Richmond also asserts a number of state law claims related to the incident.

Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of Richmond's claims. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the motion in part and defers consideration of the reset of it pending a hearing to address Richmond's exhaustion of administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

Preliminary procedural issues

In their reply, defendants have moved to strike a number of Richmond's responses to defendants' Local Rule 56.1 statement of material facts. Because none of these points affect the particular issue the Court addresses in the present ruling, the Court need not rule on this request.

Defendants have also asked the Court to disregard three exhibits submitted by Richmond in his response to defendants' summary judgment motion on the ground that they have not been properly authenticated: a Cook County General Order, an unsigned psychological report regarding Richmond, and Richmond's medical records from Cermak Health Services of Cook County. The Court need not deal with the first two of these exhibits at this time because they are immaterial to the issue the Court addresses in this decision. As for the medical records, the Court does not rely on these records by themselves, but rather does so in conjunction with Richmond's sworn statements in his deposition and affidavit concerning his medical treatment. See Moss v. Mormon, No. 99 C 3571, 2001 WL 1491183, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 26, 2001). To the extent that the medical records refer to events of which Richmond has personal knowledge, and the Court appropriately may consider them. See Morissette v. Ghosh, No. 08 C 2545, 2010 WL 1251443, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 23, 2010); see also McCarthy v. Zaruba, No. 05 C 4321, 2007 WL 1455840, at *2 (N.D. Ill. May 14, 2007) ("It should additionally be noted that the validity of medical records and entries in the medical records cannot be disputed in the absence of any contrary evidence."). The Court also notes that the foundation for admission of these records likely can be laid without much difficulty should the need arise.

Facts

Richmond entered the Cook County Jail (CCJ) as a pretrial detainee on March 9, 2010 and, after processing, was placed in Tier B4 of Division 1, a maximum security division of the CCJ. Richmond, who says he was not a member of a street gang, initially shared a cell with Francis Whitten, a member of the Black P-Stone Nation street gang. At some point, Whitten realized that Richmond had witnessed the shooting for which Whitten was currently charged, in which he was claimed to have shot a member of the rival Folk Nation street gang alliance. Richmond said that he had seen that the victim of the shooting "had a gun on him as well" and agreed to testify to that effect at Whitten's retrial. Pl.'s Ex. 1 at 43.

Richmond testified that word got out that he was testifying on Whitten's behalf, and gang members affiliated with the Folk Nation alliance began to threaten him in person and via handwritten notes. The threats became more serious when Whitten was transferred out of Tier B4. Richmond contends that he repeatedly reported these threats to prison officials and asked to be moved but that his requests were ignored. On August 20, 2010, Richmond was attacked by inmates who he says were affiliated with the Folk Nation alliance and was beaten severely. The details of the beating are not pertinent to the issue the Court addresses in this ruling, so the Court will not discuss them here.

After the incident, Richmond was taken to Cermak Health Services, CCJ's medical unit. Richmond states in his affidavit that from there, he was transferred to Stroger Hospital for a series of medical treatments. He says that he suffered a number of broken facial bones and underwent multiple surgeries for facial reconstruction, including the reconstruction of his orbital bone that sits just below his right eye. He sustained extensive nerve damage to his back and spine, which forced him to wear a neck brace and causes pain when he sits or stands for long periods of time. He also sustained a concussion. He experienced severe head injuries, which caused double vision, migraine headaches, and numbness in his forehead. Richmond's affidavit also refers to medical reports included as Exhibit 2 to his brief in opposition to summary judgment. Pl.'s Ex. B. The records were poorly organized by Richmond's counsel and give no clear timeline regarding Richmond's hospitalizations and treatment after the incident, but various pages do refer to Richmond undergoing oral surgery, neurosurgery, and "trauma surgery." Id. at 119.

Richmond contends that he wrote and filed three grievances regarding the August 20 incident. Though he could not remember the exact date on which he filed the first grievance, he testified during his deposition that it was "[a]bout a month or so after the incident of August 20, about a month or so." Pl.'s Ex. A at 20. He explained that he did not file sooner because "[w]hen [he] first came back from Stroger Hospital, [he] wasn't in the condition to write, talk, remember." Id. Richmond says he received no response to his first grievance, so he filed a second grievance approximately two weeks after the first. Again hearing no response, Richmond testified, he filed a third grievance. Defendants have submitted an affidavit from a Cook County administrator, stating that the only grievance that Cook County has on record from Richmond is one seeking dental care, which he filed on January 5, 2011.

Richmond originally filed this suit pro se. He has since retained counsel and amended his complaint. Richmond asserts eight claims. In his first three claims, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, he alleges that defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to protect him from harm by other inmates, conspiring to operate CCJ in an unconstitutional manner, and failing to implement corrective procedures and policies issued by the U.S. Department of Justice. Richmond also asserts five related state claims: (1) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (2) civil conspiracy, (3) willful and wanton misconduct, (4) respondeat superior, and (5) indemnification.

Discussion

Summary judgment is appropriate when the evidence shows that there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322--23 (1986). In deciding on a motion for summary judgment, courts "view the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Groesch v. City of Springfield, 635 F.3d 1020, 1022 (7th Cir. 2011). "It is not for courts at summary judgment to weigh evidence or determine the credibility of ...


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