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Williams v. Hulick

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 2, 2014

EUGENE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
DONALD HULICK, SGT. WAGNER, OFFICER JOHN DOE, and NURSE JANE DOE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Timothy Wagner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 87). Plaintiff Eugene Williams, an inmate formerly housed at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), alleges that Wagner, a correctional sergeant at Menard, was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's health and safety by failing first to prevent and then to halt an attack in the prison's shower area by fellow inmate Michael Johnson. Plaintiff asserts these failures violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

The Court's previous order in this matter (Doc. 97) adopted the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson (Doc. 93), thereby granting summary judgment in favor of Wagner on the failure to prevent theory. The Court reserved ruling on the remainder of Wagner's summary judgment motion and ordered Plaintiff to show cause why, in light of the undisputed facts, summary judgment should not be granted in favor of Wagner on the failure to halt theory as well (Doc. 97).

Plaintiff timely responded, arguing that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to both the failure to prevent and failure to halt theories (Doc. 98). The Court, having already ruled on the failure to prevent theory (Doc. 97), will construe Plaintiff's response as a motion to reconsider.

For the following reasons, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of Wagner on the remaining failure to halt theory and denies Plaintiff's motion to reconsider the failure to prevent theory.

BACKGROUND

The undisputed material facts in this matter were presented in the Court's previous order (Doc. 97) and are likewise included herein.

Prior to April 16, 2008, Plaintiff and Michael Johnson, his cellmate, were generally on good terms. Johnson had made no threats towards Plaintiff, and Plaintiff did not tell anyone that he felt threatened by Johnson. Immediately prior to April 16, 2008, Johnson began acting "crazy" after a minor incident and Plaintiff no longer spoke to him. There is no evidence in the record, however, that Plaintiff ever felt threatened by Johnson or that he ever indicated to anyone that he was fearful of Johnson.

On April 16, 2008, Menard was on lockdown. As a result, inmates being moved to the shower area were individually handcuffed before leaving their cells. This procedure was employed when Plaintiff and Johnson were moved to the shower area. After the inmates had been patted down by other correctional officers, they moved down a stairwell to the shower area where Wagner was stationed. It was Wagner's duty to place the inmates in the designated shower area. An old handcuff procedure would have required Wagner to remove an inmate's handcuffs before placing that inmate in the shower area. However, the handcuff procedure that Wagner utilized on April 16, 2008 required him to first place all[1] the inmates in the shower area. Once the inmates were in the shower area, Wagner locked the door behind them. All inmates were still in handcuffs at this point. Once the door was locked, each inmate, one at a time, came to the door, placed their hands through a "chuckhole, " and was un-cuffed.

Unfortunately for Plaintiff, Johnson was un-cuffed before he was. As Plaintiff placed his hands through the chuckhole to be un-cuffed, Johnson began stabbing him in the back with a pen. Wagner ordered the inmates to stop fighting and then sprayed Mace into the shower. This caused Johnson to stop stabbing Plaintiff and, along with the other inmates, to retreat to the back of the shower area while Plaintiff remained next to the door.

After the attack, Plaintiff was told by "internal affairs" that Johnson "is known for stabbing his cellies and stuff like that." Wagner testified that Plaintiff's and Johnson's cell house was where the "most aggressive" inmates were housed. There is no evidence, however, that Wagner had any information on either Plaintiff's or Johnson's particular level of dangerousness (or vulnerability), what they were incarcerated for, or whether they posed an individualized or other specific threat to any other person. Wagner had no other interaction with Plaintiff after this incident.

DISCUSSION

The only question remaining before the Court in this matter is whether Wagner is entitled to summary judgment ...


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