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Barrett v. Ashby

United States District Court, Central District of Illinois, Springfield Division

March 2, 2015

DONNIE R. BARRETT, Plaintiff,
v.
FORREST ASHBY, JAMES CLAYTON, SALLY HOUGAS, JOSEPH HANKINS, DALE KUNKEL, and EDWINA BIERMANN, Defendants.[1]

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and detained in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center, pursues the following claims: 1) retaliation for Plaintiff's grievances and freedom of information requests; and, 2) placement in segregation without procedural due process and for no legitimate, non-punitive purpose. (2/20/13 Order.) In particular, Plaintiff claims that he was retaliated against and put in segregation for possessing information obtained by Plaintiff through a Freedom of Information request regarding Defendant Clayton’s work history and qualifications. The case is now at the summary judgment stage.

After carefully reviewing the evidence, the Court concludes that a rational jury could not find in Plaintiff’s favor. Plaintiff does not dispute that one of the reasons for his segregation and discipline was because a spreadsheet of all the residents’ names, birth dates, and social security numbers was found in a resident’s room on Plaintiff’s unit. Plaintiff does not dispute that this resident informed Defendant Clayton that Plaintiff had given the resident the spreadsheet. Therefore, regardless of Plaintiff’s protected First Amendment activity, Plaintiff would have been placed in segregation anyway. For the same reason, whether Plaintiff received procedural due process before his placement in segregation is immaterial. A different process would not have produced a different result.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “In a § 1983 case, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on the constitutional deprivation that underlies the claim, and thus must come forward with sufficient evidence to create genuine issues of material fact to avoid summary judgment.” McAllister v. Price, 615 F.3d 877, 881 (7th Cir. 2010). However, at the summary judgment stage, evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, with material factual disputes resolved in the nonmovant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when a reasonable juror could find for the nonmovant. Id.

FACTS

These facts are set forth in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, as required at this stage.

According to Plaintiff, on October 30, 2012, Defendant Clayton, an investigator at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center, tried to intimidate Plaintiff by telling Plaintiff that Plaintiff’s complaints to various outside agencies would go nowhere because Clayton had worked for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. The next day, Plaintiff filed a grievance about this incident. In the facility, a grievance is also known as an “attempt to resolve” or “ATR.” (10/31/12 grievance, d/e 109-4, p. 3.)

Plaintiff asserts that Investigator Clayton tried to persuade Plaintiff to drop the grievance by showing Plaintiff proof that Clayton had worked for the FBI, but Plaintiff told the grievance officer that he wished to pursue the grievance. On or about November 26, 2012, to confirm Investigator Clayton’s purported work history claims, Plaintiff sent out Freedom of Information Requests to the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois State Police, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Office of the Executive Inspector General. (11/26/12 letter, d/e 109-5, p. 7.)

On December 5, 2012, Investigator Clayton wrote Plaintiff an incident report for making false accusations against Clayton. Clayton wrote:

Barrett claims that this R/I has informed him that I am a member of the FBI, ISP Investigator, Military Investigator, DHS OIG investigator. These comments in this ATR are completely false. At no time did this R/I tell Barrett that I worked for those agencies. . . .Resident Barrett appears to have extremely delusional thoughts and continues to file fraudulent complaints with numerous agencies. These frivolous complaints by resident Barrett is causing a waste of State employee resources and manpower. Barrett is continually trying to manipulate the DHS/TDF system.

(12/5/12 incident report, d/e 109-4.)

On December 10, 2012, Plaintiff received a notice to appear before the behavior committee on charges of lying to staff/attempted staff manipulation/violation of rules/insolence. The notice accused Plaintiff of filing false reports “on various dates and various times, ” specifically singling out Plaintiff’s 10/31/12 grievance against Clayton. (12/10/12 notice, d/e 109-4.)

Plaintiff appeared before the behavior committee on December 11, 2012, bringing the information he had received from the Office of Executive Inspector General in response to Plaintiff’s FOIA request. Included in that response was a highly redacted questionnaire completed by Investigator Clayton, which revealed Clayton’s high school and post-secondary education, his work experience and employment, training, and other parts of his curriculum vitae. (109-5, pp. 5-19.) The behavior committee gave Plaintiff a warning for lying, noting in their ...


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