United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Andrew Lamon, filed this pro se lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for alleged constitutional violations while he was incarcerated at Big Muddy Correctional Center ("Big Muddy"). This matter is currently before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Kenny Brown on April 11, 2014 (Docs. 55, 56). Lamon filed a response to the motion for summary judgment on May 7, 2014 (Doc. 59). The Court has carefully considered the briefs and all of the evidence submitted by the parties, and for the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Andrew Lamon is an inmate incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). He is serving a thirty-five year sentence for aggravated criminal sexual assault and possession of a controlled substance (Doc. 1, p. 15). He is currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center, however, the events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred while he was incarcerated at Big Muddy.
Defendant Kenny Brown ("Officer Brown") is a correctional officer at Big Muddy. Lamon alleges that after he arrived at Big Muddy, Officer Brown threatened to injure or kill him and prematurely terminated him from his job assignment because of Lamon's participation in a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections (Docs. 11, 40). After exhausting his administrative remedies, Lamon filed the instant lawsuit against Officer Brown on June 19, 2012 (Doc. 1). He has two claims pending against Officer Brown: a First Amendment retaliation claim and an Eighth Amendment claim for cruel and unusual punishment.
The evidence before the Court includes an affidavit from Lamon ("Affidavit 1") and a number of other documents that were attached to the complaint (Doc. 1, pp. 9-26). Lamon submitted a second affidavit ("Affidavit 2") on January 21, 2014, as part of a Motion for Leave to Expand the Record (Doc. 47, pp. 3-6). Regardless of the label Lamon affixed to the affidavit or the manner in which it was submitted, it appears to the Court that the affidavit was actually a supplemental response to Officer Brown's interrogatories. Lamon also resubmitted Affidavit 2 with his response to the motion for summary judgment (Doc. 59, pp. 27-30). Finally, the transcript of Lamon's deposition, taken on March 14, 2014, has been also submitted to the Court (Doc. 56-1). Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to Lamon, the facts of the case are as follows.
Prior to his transfer to Big Muddy, Lamon was housed at Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"). While he was incarcerated at Pontiac, he drafted a civil rights complaint against the IDOC, which was filed in federal court in the Central District of Illinois, on behalf of another inmate, Jo-Julien Hicks ("the Hicks case") (Doc. 1, p. 9). Lamon also appeared as a witness at the Pavey hearing where it was determined that Hicks had properly exhausted his administrative remedies prior to filing suit (Doc. 56-1, p. 20). While the Hicks case was still pending, Lamon was transferred to Big Muddy.
According to Lamon, he was threatened by Officer Brown from December 2011 through May 2012 because of his participation in the Hicks case (Doc. 47, p. 4). During that time, Lamon was housed in the "1-House, C-wing, " and he worked as a cell-house porter (Doc. 47, p. 4). Lamon explained that he was essentially a janitor, and his duties included taking out the trash and mopping the floors (Doc. 56-1, p. 18). He worked the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, and Officer Brown was assigned to that same shift ( Id. ). Lamon stated that he would see Officer Brown on a daily basis each time he took out the trash (Doc. 56-1, p. 13).
Lamon states that Officer Brown began to threaten him in December 2011; however, the first threat that he describes in detail occurred during the first week of January 2012 (Doc. 47, p. 4). According to Lamon, he was returning from taking out the morning trash, and Officer Brown asked if he could speak to him ( Id. ). Officer Brown said that he heard Lamon was "very good at filing lawsuits and testifying, " and that while Lamon "had his coward ass in Pontiac, " Lamon helped file a lawsuit against the IDOC that was still pending ( Id. ). Officer Brown asked Lamon if he was happy with his job, and Lamon said yes ( Id. ). Officer Brown asked Lamon if anyone held it against him that he was a rapist, and Lamon said no ( Id. ). According to Lamon, Officer Brown then said that "he didn't know what the staff [at Pontiac] was thinking letting a rapist cause trouble for [the IDOC], but [Lamon's] black-ass was in [Big Muddy] now, and he for one wasn't having any of that shit" (Doc. 47, p. 5).
Officer Brown told Lamon that, before the next court date, Lamon had to tell the Illinois Attorney General that he "wanted nothing else to do with that lawsuit or... [Brown] was going to fire me from my job, handcuff me for refusing a direct order, and bash my fucking brains out on the floor" ( Id. ). Officer Brown further said to Lamon "if that don't kill [my] smart ass, he'd put me in [segregation] and see to it that my meals contained crushed light bulbs and that he'd come by daily to witness me dying while shitting blood" ( Id. ). When another correctional officer came by, Officer Brown calmed down and told Lamon to "remember our talk and that he'd get back with me in a few days if need be" ( Id. ). Lamon stated that on several subsequent occasions, Officer Brown "reinforced his threats" by telling Lamon to "remember our talk" and to "do the right thing" ( Id. ).
According to the affidavit, Lamon had a "very real fear that the threats would be carried out, " which caused him to have nightmares and wake up "in a frantic, sweaty state" (Doc. 47, p. 5). Lamon stated that in April 2012, he spoke with the assistant attorney general assigned to the Hicks case, Mr. Joe Rupcich ( Id. at p. 6). Lamon told Mr. Rupcich that he "wanted nothing more to do with the Hicks lawsuit, " that he did not want Hicks's attorneys to contact him "because I was no longer helping them" ( Id. ). Other evidence shows that Lamon actually contacted the Illinois Attorney General's office as early as January 12, 2012 ( see Doc. 1, p. 23). Lamon was told that Mr. Rupcich would contact him at some point in the future to obtain his statement ( id. ), and Mr. Rupcich did so on April 26, 2012 (Doc. 47, p. 6; Doc. 59, p. 53). An investigative report from the Attorney General's Office memorializing the conversation between Lamon and Mr. Rupcich confirms that Lamon stated "he wanted no part" in the Hicks case because he had received threats from other inmates and staff at Big Muddy (Doc. 59, p. 53). Lamon further stated that he did not want anyone to contact him at all, and that if he was forced to testify, he would say that he knew nothing about the case ( Id. ).
On May 3, 2012, Officer Brown went to Lamon's cell and said "I heard you had a legal call the other day. You just don't get it, do you?" (Doc. 1, p. 10). Lamon explained that he talked to Mr. Rupcich, but told him that he wanted nothing more to do with the Hicks case (Doc. 1, p. 10). Officer Brown responded "we'll see" and said that "if he heard about me talking to anybody else about the lawsuit, [I was] going to find myself in [segregation] trying to digest crushed light bulbs" ( Id. ).
Later that same day, another correctional officer went to Lamon's cell and told him that Officer Brown had just fired him from his job as a porter ( Id. ). Lamon then received a memo from the Assignment Officer at Big Muddy indicating that he was unassigned from his job effective immediately because his six-month time limit had expired" ( Id.; Doc. 1, p. 24). According to evidence submitted by Lamon, however, he was assigned to his job on January 20, 2012,  and therefore, the six-month limit had not expired (Doc. 1, pp. 10, 25).
Lamon wrote a letter to Joe Rupcich saying that Officer Brown "fired me without cause, " and that he feared for his safety (Doc. 59, p. 54). Lamon also wrote a letter to District Judge Harold A. Baker, the presiding judge in the Hicks case, and relayed the same information (Doc. 59, p. 55). On May 8, 2012, Lamon was called to the Internal Affairs Office at Big Muddy and asked why he had written a letter to Judge Baker about Officer Brown (Doc. 1, p. 11). A disciplinary report was issued, which placed Lamon under investigative status, and he was put in segregation ( Id.; Doc. 1, p. 26). According to Lamon, he was released from segregation on May 23, 2012, his security classification was changed from minimum security to medium security without notice or a hearing, and he was ...