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Barnett v. Bates

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 31, 2013

ROBERT BARNETT, #R-61824, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN United States District Judge

This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams (Doc. 84), recommending that the motions to dismiss filed by William Peyton, Ty J. Bates, Mike Held, Harold Schuler, and Shane Tasky (Docs. 59 and 60); Allen Aparicio and Angela Winsor (Docs. 65 and 66); Gary Gerst (Doc. 68); and Marsha Woods (Docs. 69 & 71) be granted. The Report and Recommendation was entered on January 24, 2013, and included a Notice that any objections were due within fourteen days of service. Plaintiff filed a document entitled “Objection to the Report and Recommendation” on February 1, 2013 (Doc. 90), in which he seeks to amend his complaint to add retaliation claims. (Docs. 90, 91).


In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 case, Plaintiff claims that various defendants were deliberately indifferent to a serious risk of harm, deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s serious medical needs, and violated Plaintiff’s due process rights by filing a false disciplinary report against him. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that while he was at Big Muddy Correctional Center, he repeatedly asked to be placed in a safer environment because he was an open homosexual, listed as “vulnerable” in the prison computer, and was threatened with beating and rape by Latin King gang members. (Doc. 17). Plaintiff alleges that he was instead placed in a high-aggressive house and on May 25, 2011, and he was attacked in his cell, punched four times and raped. Id. Plaintiff alleges that prior to the incident he had told Defendants Schuler, Clark, Woods, Bates, Tasky, Held and Payton about his safety concerns and asked for help, but they failed to investigate and failed to keep him safe. Id.

Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Schuler and Clark, in an attempt to cover up their failures, wrote Plaintiff a false disciplinary ticket for giving false information regarding the sexual assault, failing to conduct an investigation, and placing him in segregation. Id. He further alleges that Defendants Aparicio and Winsor, denied him his due process rights and helped to cover up the attack by refusing to allow Plaintiff to call witnesses in his defense at his disciplinary hearing. Id. Plaintiff’s Complaint also asserts that Defendant Gerst and an unknown nurse were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when they failed to treat his injuries or provide him with pain medication and that they violated his due process rights by intentionally failing to document Plaintiff’s physical injuries resulting from the assault.

Plaintiff was ticketed for impeding or interfering with an investigation and for giving false information to an employee. (Doc. 1-1). Plaintiff then went before the Adjustment Committee and was found guilty of both violations. Specifically, the Adjustment Committee found that “based on statements from confidential sources and lack of credible physical evidence, ” there was no sexual assault as Plaintiff had alleged. (Doc. 1-1). The Adjustment Committee took several disciplinary actions, for example, the revocation of 3 months good conduct credit and a transfer as a result of Plaintiff faking the sexual assault.

Report and Recommendation

Defendants Peyton, Bates, Held, Schuler, Tasky, Aparicio, Winsor, Gerst and Woods filed four motions to dismiss, all of which claim that the Heck doctrine applies to bar Plaintiff’s claims. Plaintiff filed a response to those motions arguing that Heck does not bar his claims because he is not challenging the validity of his disciplinary hearing findings, but instead challenging the due process violations. (Doc. 77). In the pending Report and Recommendation, Judge Williams finds that Plaintiff’s Due Process claims and deliberate indifference claims are barred by Heck.


Where timely objections are filed, this Court must undertake a de novo review of the Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)B), (C), Fed. R. Civ. P.72(b); SDIL-LR 73(1)(b); Harper v. City of Chicago Heights 824 F.Supp. 786, 788 (N.D. Ill. 1993); see also Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court “may accept, reject, or modify the magistrate judge’s recommended decision.” Harper, 824 F.Supp. at 788. In making this determination, the Court must look at all of the evidence contained in the record and “give ‘fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objections have been made.’” Id., quoting 12 Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 3076.8 at p.55 (1st ed. 1973) (1992 Pocket Part) (emphasis added). However, where neither timely nor specific objections to the Report and Recommendation are made, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), this Court need not conduct a de novo review of the Report and Recommendation. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985).

The Court has considered Plaintiff’s objection and finds that it is not a specific objection to the findings of the Report and Recommendation, but instead Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint to add claims that may or may not be barred by Heck. Under Heck, “when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). This holding has been extended to judgments in prison disciplinary proceedings. See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997). Thus, when a prisoner seeks damages based on allegations that imply the invalidity of a punishment effecting a prisoner’s fact or duration of confinement, such as the loss of good time credits, the prisoner cannot proceed with a § 1983 claim until his disciplinary decision has been invalidated. See Simpson v. Nickel, 450 F.3d 303, 306-307 (7th Cir. 2006) (Heck and Edwards held “that a prisoner whose grievance implies the invalidity of ongoing custody must seek review by collateral attack”).

The Magistrate Judge has recommended that Plaintiff’s due process and deliberate indifference claims are barred by Heck as they would necessarily imply the invalidity of the judgment against him in the disciplinary hearing. (Doc. 84, pp. 5, 8). While a de novo review is not required here, the Court has considered the record and Magistrate Judge William’s Report and Recommendation and fully agrees with the findings, analysis, and conclusions of Magistrate Judge Williams. The Court concludes that Plaintiff’s due process and deliberate indifference claims shall be dismissed because they are barred by the Heck doctrine. This includes the due process and deliberate indifference claims asserted against Defendants Clark and Nurse Jane Doe, though not raised by either Defendant in a motion to dismiss, the Court agrees that these claims are also barred by the Heck doctrine.

With regard to Plaintiff’s recent attempt to amend his complaint to add retaliation claims, the Court finds that these claims are also barred by the Heck doctrine. The Court has broad discretion to deny Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend his complaint if it finds there is undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies, undue prejudice to the defendants, or if an amendment would be futile. Rule 15 provides that a party may amend its pleading as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it, or 21 days after service of a responsive pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A)-(B). “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). A district court may deny a motion to amend if the amendment would not cure the original deficiencies, or could not survive a motion to dismiss. Foster v. DeLuca, 545 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2008); Crestview Vill. Apartments v. U.S. Dep’t of Hous. and Urban Dev., 383 F.3d 552, 558 (7th Cir. 2004).

Plaintiff has added a new claim of retaliation in order to attempt to evade the Heck bar. Specifically, Plaintiff claims generally in the Amended Complaint that all defendants collectively: 1) refused to prevent a previously reported plan of retaliatory battery and rape for reporting the subsequent act of battery and rape; 2) placed plaintiff in a high-risk area with a high percentage of gang members who were specifically identified by Plaintiff prior to the rape as the threatening gang; 3) after the report of rape was made, refused to separate Plaintiff from such gang members; and 4) transferred Plaintiff to Menard, increasing the ...

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