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Turley v. Rednour

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 3, 2013

Gregory J. Turley, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Dave Rednour, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Argued September 10, 2012

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 3:10-cv-00789-MJR—Michael J. Reagan, Judge.

Before Easterbrook, Chief Judge, and Cudahy and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

Cudahy, Circuit Judge.

This is a case about a prison's lockdowns and Eighth Amendment, conspiracy, and Due Process claims arising from those repeated lockdowns.

Gregory J. Turley is serving a life sentence in Menard Correctional Center, a state prison in downstate Illinois. He is classified as a low-aggression offender, and housed in a unit with other prisoners of similar aggression levels. In the period between January 7, 2008, and October 4, 2010, prison administration frequently placed the prison on lockdown wherein prisoners were confined to their cells without any yard time. In all, 25 lockdowns were imposed, with 81 days being the longest continuous period of lockdown, and totaling 534 lockdown days. Thus, prisoners were confined in lockdown status for more than 50% of the period in question.

Turley brought two intertwined Eighth Amendment violation claims, a conspiracy claim and a Due Process claim with regard to Menard's lockdowns. He alleged that these lockdowns were often imposed for non-penologically-related purposes, such as isolated fights between two inmates from other cellhouses, rumors of a potential fight or for no reason at all. The repeated lockdowns resulted in lack of exercise for inmates. Turley further claims that by confining two inmates together in a small cell, in the context of the frequent use of lockdowns, prison officials showed deliberate indifference to inmates' physical and psychological injuries. Specifically, Turley claims that he suffered injuries such as irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, tinnitus, sleep deprivation, colon spasms, nosebleeds, weight loss and extreme stress.

Turley alleges that the excessive use of lockdowns arose out of a conspiracy among prison officials and union employees to create a staff shortage and negotiate a pay raise. Additionally, Turley alleges there was a conspiracy to exaggerate prison response to minor incidents, or no incidents at all, in order to allow staff to take vacation and/or to psychologically punish all prisoners for the misconduct of a few. Finally, Turley claims that his $10 per month idle pay stipend was withheld during lockdown periods without due process. His complaint was brought against various prison personnel. See SA at A-16 (listing names and positions).

Before bringing this claim, Turley filed several grievances with Menard Correctional Center. The record includes a letter from the Administrative Review Board, the highest authority within the prison's complaint system, denying a grievance Turley filed based on "Administrative Policy (Lockdowns)" in 2008. SA at A-24. The underlying grievance report is not included in the record.

Turley also filed a grievance in February 2009. SA at A-18. There, he challenged the frequent use of lockdown as an exaggerated response to security concerns, a way to avoid paying overtime to employees and a way to give staff vacation time (particularly around holidays). A-19-22. Turley specifically listed lockdowns that occurred from November 24, 2008 to December 9, 2008, and from December 29, 2008 to January 12, 2009. A-19. Further, Turley listed 14 other lockdowns occurring throughout 2008 that showed a pattern of lockdowns coinciding with holidays. Id. He also complained that a lockdown in his own low-to-medium-aggression cellhouse was frequently imposed due to incidents between inmates in other, completely separate cellhouses. A-20, A-23. His grievance was denied by the Administrative Review Board on June 10, 2009. SA at A-17.

Turley then filed an October 2009 grievance. SA at A-27 (partially illegible). In this grievance, Turley described his confinement to a 40 square foot segregation cell with another prisoner. Turley alleges that this grievance was ignored by prison officials. Similarly, he received no response to a grievance filed in August 2010.

In October 2010, Turley filed his pro se federal complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the district court reviewed this claim for suf-ficiency.[1] The court dismissed both Eighth Amendment claims at the screening review stage and did not address the conspiracy or Due Process claims. The district court erroneously noted that Turley did not state "how long the lockdown lasted, making it impossible for the Court to determine . . . whether there had been an eighth amendment violation."

Turley, now represented by counsel, is appealing the dismissal of his complaint. The state of Illinois has filed a brief as a party in interest in the matter.

This court reviews § 1915A dismissals under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for stating a claim for relief. Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 755-56 (7th Cir. 2010). Dismissal orders are reviewed de novo, "taking all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id. at 756 (quoting Zimme ...

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