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Davis v. Orill

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

September 27, 2013

EARL SIDNEY DAVIS Plaintiff,
v.
SHON ORILL, RICHARD LOGAN, SETH WESSEL, GEORGE LAY, and DONALD DANIELS, Defendants.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

Plaintiff filed this case pro se from his detention in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center. On October 16, 2012, the Court appointed two senior law students from the University of Illinois College of Law Federal Civil Rights Clinic to represent Plaintiff, after Plaintiff's claims had survived summary judgment. A three-day jury trial was held on Plaintiff's three claims: 1) an excessive force claim against Defendant Orill; 2) a separate claim for excessive force against Defendants Daniels and Logan; and, 3) a separate claim for unconstitutional use of restraints against Defendants Lay and Wessel. The jury returned a verdict for Defendants on the first two claims. On the third claim-unconstitutional use of restraints by Defendants Lay and Wessel-the jury found for Plaintiff, awarding Plaintiff $1, 000 in compensatory damages and zero in punitive damages.

The case is before the Court on Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial and Plaintiff's motions for fees and costs. For the reasons below, Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial is denied. The Court awards $4, 920.00 as a reasonable attorney's fee and $16.45 in costs.

Evidence Supporting the Verdict

Plaintiff prevailed on his claim that Defendants Lay and Wessel used unconstitutional restraints. In particular, the evidence showed that on May 22, 2008, Plaintiff was transported from the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center to the Madison County Courthouse for a hearing. During the transport Plaintiff was restrained in leg chains, handcuffs attached to a waist chain, and a black box secured over the handcuffs.

Plaintiff claimed that Defendants Wessel and Lay refused to temporarily remove Plaintiff's hand restraints (the handcuffs and black box) so that Plaintiff could use the courthouse bathroom after the hearing, before the ride back to the detention center. Plaintiff testified that Lay and Wessel had orally assured the Madison County judge at the hearing that Plaintiff's hand restraints would be removed so that Plaintiff could use the restroom. However, Lay and Wessel refused to do so. Plaintiff was forced to try to urinate with the hand restraints on and with the bathroom door open to a hallway where others might walk by and Lay and Wessel watching. Plaintiff testified that trying to urinate with the restraints on caused him physical pain and that he got urine on his hands and pants while Defendants Wessel and Lay laughed at Plaintiff. Plaintiff also testified that he was not allowed to wash his hands and had to sit in his soiled pants on the ride back to the detention facility.

Pictures of the courthouse restroom showed that the bathroom was a small, windowless room, containing a sink, toilet, and only one door. Plaintiff also presented evidence of a prior court order from the state court judge directing that Plaintiff's restraints be removed when Plaintiff used the restroom at the Madison County Courthouse. Defendants denied knowing about that order, but Plaintiff testified that he had told Defendants about the order. The evidence also showed that Law and Wessel could have contacted their superiors to obtain authorization to remove the hand restraints so Plaintiff could use the bathroom. At the time of the trial, Plaintiff was 65 years old, of slight stature, and moved slowly due to back problems.

New Trial

Defendants take issue with several jury instructions. First, they argue that the Eighth Amendment "malicious and sadistic" standard should have been used and that the jury should have been instructed that Lay and Wessel must have intended to cause Plaintiff suffering.

The Court instructed the jury:

Plaintiff has a right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In the context of this case, that means that Plaintiff has a right to be free from excessive force and a right to be free from bodily restraints which are not rationally related to legitimate security purposes or are excessive in relation to those purposes. Actions taken for the purpose of humiliating and inflicting psychological pain on Plaintiff for no legitimate reason violate Plaintiff's rights under the due process clause. (d/e 151, p. 18.)

The Court further instructed:

To succeed on his due process claims against Defendants Lay or Wessel, Plaintiff has the burden of proving that the Defendant under consideration subjected Plaintiff to bodily restraint which was not rationally related to legitimate security purposes, or was excessive in relation to those purposes, or was done in a manner which amounted to harassment for the purpose of humiliating and inflicting psychological pain on Plaintiff for no legitimate reason.

(d/e 151, p. 21).

Defendants' proposed instructions required the jury to find that Lay and Wessel acted maliciously and sadistically and that Defendants intended to cause Plaintiff physical or mental pain and suffering. (Defs.' proposed instructions 6, 9. d/e 152, pp. 72, 75). Defendants argue that the Eighth Amendment standard applied to the unconstitutional restraints claim: "[a]lthough Plaintiff is not an inmate, Plaintiff is not entitled to any greater protection than the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment." (Defs.' Mot., d/e 158, p. 3).

However, this argument runs directly counter to the Seventh Circuit precedent discussed in the Court's 11/20/12 order (d/e 132, ΒΆ 5), which the Court adopts for purposes of this order. As stated in that order, the Rice case does not help Defendants because the plaintiff in Rice did not object to the application of an Eighth Amendment standard. Most of the other cases cited by Defendants do not involve the excessive use of restraints against a pretrial detainee. See County of Sacramento v. Lewis , 523 U.S. 833 (1998)(high-speed chase by police); Richman v. Sheahan , 512 F.3d 876, 881 (7th Cir. 2008)(discussing 8th Amendment excessive force standard for person found in contempt of court).

The Hart case cited by Defendants, Hart v. Sheahan , 396 F.3d 887 (7th Cir. 2005), does deal with excessive restraints used on a pretrial detainee. Hart actually supports the Court's jury instructions:

As we said in May v. Sheahan, supra, 226 F.3d at 884, another case about the conditions in which inmates are held in the Cook County Jail, "the use of bodily restraints constitutes punishment in the constitutional sense if their use is not rationally related to a legitimate non-punitive government purpose ...

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