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Johnson v. Golliher

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 6, 2014



MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Before the Court is a motion for partial summary judgment and supporting brief (Docs. 71-72) filed by Michael Chekevdia, Gregory DeJarnett, Cathy Hutchison, Charles Robertson, Jennifer Wilson and John Golliher (collectively, Defendants). Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims that they failed to protect him from harm and were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. In addition, Defendant DeJarnett argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on the claim that he failed to properly supervise John Golliher. Plaintiff filed a response (Doc. 73), to which Defendants replied (Doc. 76). For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion.

II. Applicable Legal Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs motions for summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Archdiocese of Milwaukee v. Doe, 743 F.3d 1101, 1105 (7th Cir. 2014), citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). Accord Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012). A genuine issue of material fact remains "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Serednyj v. Beverly Healthcare, LLC, 656 F.3d 540, 547 (7th Cir. 2011), citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accord Bunn v. Khoury Enterpr., Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2014).

To defeat a summary judgment motion, the nonmovant must articulate specific facts showing that a genuine fact issue exists for trial. "A disputed issue is genuine' where a reasonable jury could render a verdict for the non-moving party if the record at trial were identical to the record compiled in the summary judgment proceeding.'" 520 South Michigan Ave. Assoc., Ltd., v. Unite Here Local 1, ___ F.3d ___, 2014 WL 3720253, *9 (7th Cir. July 29, 2014). Summary judgment is not appropriate when evidence in the record indicates that "alternative inferences can be drawn." Anderer v. Jones, 385 F.3d 1043, 1064 (7th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1032 (2005).

In assessing a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the non-movant. Anderson, 699 F.3d at 994; Righi v. SMC Corp., 632 F.3d 404, 408 (7th Cir. 2011); Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). The district court may not resolve issues of credibility when deciding a summary judgment motion. "Those are issues for a jury at trial, not a court on summary judgment." Williams v. City of Chicago, 733 F.3d 749, 752 (7th Cir. 2013).

When the party moving for summary judgment also bears the burden of proof at trial, he must show that the record contains proof essential to establishing all of the elements of his claim (or prima facie case). Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 331 (1986) ("If the moving party will bear the burden of persuasion at trial, that party must support its motion with credible evidence... that would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial"). See also MMG Financial Corp. v. Midwest Amusements Park, LLC, 630 F.3d 651, 656 (7th Cir. 2011); Montgomery v. American Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 389 (7th Cir. 2010), citing Smith on Behalf of Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 1997).

By contrast, when the summary judgment movant does not bear the burden at trial, he can prevail just by showing an absence of evidence to support any essential element of the nonmovant's case. Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, 1169 (7th Cir. 2013). Bearing these standards in mind, the Court reviews the record before it.

III. Summary of Key Allegations and Evidence in the Record[1]

Plaintiff filed his complaint December 13, 2011 alleging constitutional violations the prior year at the hands of Defendants, correctional officers at Big Muddy River Correctional Center. The pro se complaint survived threshold review and Defendants were served. Magistrate Judge Williams granted Plaintiff's motion for appointment or recruitment of counsel in April 2013. An amended complaint was filed on Plaintiff's behalf by counsel on February 7, 2014 (Doc. 67).

Plaintiff brings suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff alleges that on December 8, 2010, Defendant Golliher used excessive force against him (Plaintiff), and Defendants Chekevdia, Hutchison, Robertson, and Wilson failed to intervene to protect Plaintiff from Golliher's conduct. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant DeJarnett failed to properly supervise Defendant Golliher so as to prevent his improper conduct against Plaintiff. Plaintiff further alleges that all Defendants failed to provide him medical care after he was injured by Defendant Golliher.

On December 8, 2010, Plaintiff - en route to a law library session - was escorted to the segregation by Defendants Chekevdia and Golliher (Transcript of Plaintiff's Deposition, Doc. 72-3 at pp. 7-8, 16). While escorting Plaintiff, Defendant Golliher was shaking Plaintiff ( id. at pp. 7-8). Golliher was also holding the back of Plaintiff's jumpsuit "like a cat and a kitten" ( id. at p. 8). He also was cursing and threatening to beat Plaintiff ( id. ). Chekevdia did not say anything to Golliher during the walk to the lobby ( id. ). When the group arrived at the lobby, Golliher - without warning - shoved Plaintiff into the lobby ( id. at pp. 8, 12-13, 30-31). The force of the shove caused Plaintiff to almost fall ( id. ).

Plaintiff testified that Defendants Wilson, Hutchison, and Chekevdia witnessed Golliher shove Plaintiff in the lobby (Doc. 72-3 at pp. 8-9). Plaintiff testified that Defendant Robertson should have been able to see Golliher's conduct in the lobby from Robertson's position in the "bubble" ( id. at pp. 9 and 14). After arriving at the segregation lobby, Plaintiff had a law library services ...

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