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Russell v. Superintendent Moreci

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 31, 2013

MIKE D. RUSSELL, Plaintiff,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT MORECI, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Mike D. Russell, represented by appointed counsel, has brought this action against Defendants, various prison officials at the Cook County Department of Corrections, in their individual capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, after he was attacked by other inmates while he was a pre-trial detainee. Defendants have moved for summary judgment, and the Motion has been fully briefed.[1] For the reasons discussed below, that Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed, except where otherwise noted.[2] Plaintiff has been in custody at the Cook County Department of Corrections (the "CCDOC") since June 2008. (Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statement of Uncontested Material Facts ("SOF") ¶ 5.) At the time of the attack at issue, he was 19 years old.

There are two main affiliations of gangs in the CCDOC: the "People, " which consists of gangs such as the Vice Lords, Black Stones and Latin Peoples; and the "Folks" or "Folks Nation, " which consists of gangs such as the Gangster Disciples (the "GD") and Latin Folks. (Plaintiff's Rule 56.1(b)(3) Statement of Additional Facts ("SAF") ¶ 1.) Plaintiff used to belong to the GD but left that gang while in jail and joined a third, small gang known by the initials "ATG."[3] (SAF ¶ 9.) ATG consists of former members of other gangs. According to Plaintiff, ATG members have disavowed their former gang membership and consider themselves neutral between the People and the Folks. (SAF ¶ 4.) When a former GD member joins ATG, he is subject to retaliation for violating gang rules because the GD members are considered to be members for life. ( Id. ¶ 7.) In 2010, ATG had approximately twelve members located on the school wing, Tier 2A of the CCDOC, including Plaintiff, until he was transferred out in April 2010. ( Id. ¶¶ 6, 18.)[4]

It is undisputed that, in the months preceding the attack on Plaintiff, the leaders of Folks/GD alliance had ordered their members to attack ATG members, and that prison officials, including Defendant Superintendent Moreci, were aware of those orders. The CCDOC's Criminal Intelligence Unit ("CIU") prepared several reports from December 2009 through April 2010, stating that the Folks/GD had ordered its members to attack ATG members, describing the animosity and fights between the Folks/GD and the ATG, and remarking that "violence is imminent." (SAF ¶¶ 10-13, 19.) The CIU reports, which were received by Moreci, also reflected that the animosity was not one-sided and that the ATG members bore at least some responsibility for the fights: the April 2010 report stated that "there are ten detainees affiliated with A.T.G. on tier [2A] and they are the catalyst for the problems on the tier." ( Id. ) Likewise, in a March 2010 CIU report, Plaintiff admitted to making metal shanks; he said he was doing so to protect himself because he knew about the GD orders to attack ATG members. According to that report, Plaintiff also stated that he did not know if he was going to be a target of an attack solely because of his affiliation with ATG or of any specific detainees housed on Tier 2A that would want to harm him. ( Id. ¶ 12.)

On April 27, 2010, Plaintiff and three other members of ATG were transferred off Tier 2A, the school wing, to Tier 1A on Moreci's orders "due to recent incidents and intelligence." (SOF ¶¶ 14, 15, 17; see also SAF ¶ 13.) Moreci testified that he had Plaintiff transferred off the school wing because Plaintiff was one of the most violent inmates in the division at the time, had engaged in fighting and gang recruitment, and had not complied with school rules and regulations. (Defs.' Resp. to SAF ¶ 15.) Plaintiff testified in his deposition that, about a week before he was attacked, Moreci was present when two inmates and members of the Latin Folks, Angel Concepcion and Richard Kupfersmith, threatened to kill Plaintiff during a confrontation between a group of school detainees and another detainee group. (SAF ¶ 14.) Another ATG member, William Kaywood, also testified that the ATG members thought Moreci was using them as "bait" for the other gangs by sending them to the Tier 1A decks:

So Sup Moreci... was sending certain guys up.... putting us on decks, the decks that stacked with the Gangster Disciples and the Latin Folks... using us for bait to see the outcome of what would happen on the decks... and see if there was guys - really, these guys got knives up there, soap sock, everything. Once we come on the deck, like in 24 hours, some go at it. We be gonna get stabbed, get jumped on, sent to the hospital.

(SAF ¶ 25.)

Plaintiff also testified that during the April 27, 2010 transfer, he specifically told Defendants Captain Julian and Officer Tate, as well as other officers, that he could not be housed in Tier 1A because his life was in danger, and he identified Kupfersmith and Concepcion to Captain Julian with Officer Tate present. (SAF ¶ 18; see also Pl.'s Resp. to SOF ¶ 25.) However, Kaywood, who was transferred at the same time, testified that he did not hear Plaintiff tell Julian or Tate about any specific inmates; rather, Kaywood testified that Plaintiff told Julian he did not want to leave the school wing and told Tate that he did not want to go to Tier 1A because there were Latin Folks up there. (Pl.'s Resp. to SOF ¶ 22.)

Captain Julian testified that he and another officer, Officer Aloisio, offered Plaintiff protective custody on April 27, 2010, but Plaintiff refused. (SOF ¶¶ 32-33). Plaintiff, however, has submitted an affidavit that he was never offered protective custody on that day. (Pl.'s Resp. to SOF ¶¶ 32-33.) He also submitted a CCDOC document "Refusal of Protective Custody, " which is signed by Julian as a witness but lacks Plaintiff's signature and states that Plaintiff refused to sign the document. ( Id. Exh. 1.) While Kaywood also testified that they were not offered protective custody, he gave some conflicting testimony about whether they refused protective custody. (SOF ¶ 37.)

The next day, April 28, 2010, Plaintiff was attacked by members of the Latin Folks gang, stabbed five times, and beaten unconscious, in an "interlock area" between Tiers 1A and 1B. (SAF ¶¶ 22-23.) According to two reports prepared by the CIU, eleven inmates, including Concepcion, had their handcuffs removed while being escorted to the interlock area upon returning from the law library. ( Id. ¶¶ 21, 23.) Plaintiff was inside the Tier 1A dayroom, standing by the doorway between the interlock and the dayroom, when Kupfersmith popped out of his cell and ran into Plaintiff, pushing him through the 1A doorway. ( Id. ¶ 23.) Concepcion then pulled Plaintiff into the interlock, where Plaintiff was attacked and stabbed by at least five of the inmates. The stabbing occurred because Thomas allowed unhandcuffed violent gang members, including Concepcion, to return onto Tier 1A. ( Id. ¶¶ 23-24.)

As reflected by the CIU reports, at this point, there were multiple inmates, none handcuffed, attacking Plaintiff with weapons in the interlock, with only two female officers present. ( Id. ) One CIU report stated that:

The security problem appears to be the lack of immediate supervision which allowed the transportation officers to remove the handcuffs from the entire group of inmates and have them all ...

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