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Terry C. Johnson v. Jose A. Delgado and David Mitchell

December 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Williams, Magistrate Judge:


I. Introduction

Before the Court are two motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff and Defendants. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment seeking judgment on Plaintiff's retaliation claim and due process claim (Docs. 72, 73, & 74).*fn1 Plaintiff has filed a response to that motion (Docs. 83 & 84). Further, Plaintiff has filed a summary judgment motion of his own arguing that Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity (Docs. 75, 76, 77, & 78). Defendants have filed a Response to that motion (Doc. 81). Defendants also filed a Reply to their own motion for summary judgment (Doc. 88). Subsequent to that filing, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike Defendants' Reply (Doc. 89), arguing that Defendants had not set forth an "exceptional circumstance" for filing such a brief. Defendants have filed a Response (Doc. 90) to that motion and Plaintiff has filed a Reply (Doc. 92). Based on the following, the Court DENIES all pending motions.

II. Factual Background

The events at issue in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint took place while Plaintiff was housed at Tamms Correctional Center and then Menard Correctional Center (Doc. 87 at ¶ 3). At the time, Defendant Jose A. Delgado was a correctional officer at Tamms and Defendant David Mitchell was a correctional lieutenant at Tamms (Id. at ¶ 4). Plaintiff's Complaint stems from an incident he witnessed in the prison law library while being housed at Tamms Correctional Center. On May 2, 2008, Plaintiff claims that he witnessed two correctional officers assault another inmate, Inmate Wilkins, in the library at Tamms Correctional Center (Doc. 73 Ex. A at pp. 30-34). Plaintiff claims that at the time of the assault, he saw Plaintiff restrained by handcuffs behind his back. Plaintiff testified to Internal Affairs about his recollection of the May 2, 2008 incident on July 1, 2008, at which time he was housed at Menard Correctional Center (Id. at p. 29). Specifically, Plaintiff informed investigators that while in the law library, he saw officers place handcuffs on Inmate Wilkins, who was in another cell, and then grabbed him, began choking Inmate Wilkins, and placed him on the ground (Id. at pp. 30-34).

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants Delgado and Mitchell retaliated against him for complaining about staff conduct to the Internal Affairs investigators and that in retaliation for those complaints, Defendant Delgado wrote him a disciplinary ticket on October 14, 2008 and Defendant Mitchell mislead Internal Affairs investigators by leading them to believe that Plaintiff was lying about the May 2, 2008 incident and by keeping Plaintiff's restoration of Good Conduct Credit from being processed (Doc. 87 at ¶¶ 60 & 61). Defendant Delgado was in the Internal Affairs Unit and he was directed to draft a disciplinary ticket for Plaintiff (Doc. 73 Ex. D at p. 87). On October 14, 2008, Defendant Delgado issued Plaintiff a ticket for Giving False Information to an Employee and Impeding or Interfering with an Investigation (Doc. 73 Ex. E). Plaintiff received a copy of the ticket on October 27, 2008, at which time he was housed at Menard Correctional Center (Id.). Plaintiff was found guilty of the charge and sentenced to 6 months C-grade, 6 months commissary restriction, and 6 months segregation (Doc. 73 Ex. F).

Defendants maintain that Plaintiff received the disciplinary ticket because his testimony did not match any of the other witnesses' testimony. Defendants state that all of the other witnesses, including Inmate Wilkins, himself, testified that Wilkins was not fully handcuffed during the incident in question. Plaintiff maintains that there were at least three different version of events told by each witness. Plaintiff testified that he observed Inmate Wilkins fully handcuffed during the incident (Doc. 74 Ex. C at p.6). The C/Os involved in the incident, Hunziker and Mason, testified that while Wilkins was initially handcuffed with both hands behind his back, the C/Os observed Wilkins remove one hand from the cuff (Doc. 74 Ex. C at pp. 7- 8). Further, Inmate Wilkins testified that the C/Os did not place handcuffs on him and that C/Os Hunziker, Hunsaker,*fn2 and Mason participated in the assault (Id. at pp. 5-6)

As to Plaintiff procedural due process claim, Plaintiff maintains that he submitted a request for restoration of good conduct credit on April 2, 2008 and that he never heard anything further from Defendant Mitchell regarding his request, which violated his due process rights. Plaintiff states that prior to his April 2, 2008 he request, his last request for restoration of good conduct credit was on December 31, 2007 (Doc. 82 Ex. A-1). Defendants, however, note that Plaintiff requested restoration of good conduct credit on December 10, 2007 and that six months of restoration was approved on February 13, 2008 (Doc. 73 Exs. G & H). Defendants also note that Plaintiff next request occurred on March 18, 2008 which again was approved for six months of restoration of good conduct credit on April 14, 2008 (Id. at Exs. I & J).*fn3

III. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary Judgment is proper only "if the admissible evidence considered as a whole shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Dy n e g y Mktg . & Trad e v. Mu lti Co rp ., 648 F.3d 506, 517 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted)(citing FED.R.CIV.P. 56(a)); s e e als o Ru ffin -Th o m p kin s v . Exp e rian In fo rm atio n So lu tio n s , In c ., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005).. The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating - based on the pleadings, affidavits, and/or information obtained via discovery - the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Ce lo te x Co rp . v . Catre tt, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

After a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." An d e rs o n v . Lib e rty Lo b b y , In c ., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986)(quoting FED.R.CIV.P. 56(e)(2)).*fn4 A fact is material if it is outcome determinative under applicable law. An d e rs o n , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); B allan c e v . City o f Sp rin g fie ld , Illin o is Po lic e De p artm e n t, 424 F.3d 614, 616 (7th Cir. 2005); Ho tte n ro th v . Villag e o f Slin g e r, 388 F.3d 1015, 1027 (7th Cir. 2004). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." An d e rs o n , 477 U.S. at 248. "A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovent's petition is insufficient; a party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only when it presents definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." Alb ie ro v . City o f Kan kake e , 246 F.3d 927, 931-32 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and quotations omitted).

On summary judgment, the Court considers the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Srail v . Vill. o f Lis le , 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court adopts reasonable inferences and resolves doubts in the non-movant's favor. Id .; Nat'l Ath le tic Sp o rts w e ar, In c . v . We s tfie ld In s . Co ., 528 F.3d at 512. Even if the facts are not in dispute, summary judgment is inappropriate when the information before the court reveals that "alternate inferences can be drawn from the available evidence." Sp ie g la v . Hu ll, 371 F.3d 928, 935 (7th Cir. 2004). Se e als o An d e re r v . Jo n e s , 385 F.3d 1043, 1064 (7th Cir. 2004).

IV. Analysis

A. Motion to ...

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