United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
COREY D. JONES, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL DEAN, DEREK HUNDLEY, CHRIST BRANT, CHRISTOPHER CALE, and ROBERT KIDWELL, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN C. WILLIAMS, Magistrate Judge.
This case is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 26 and 27) filed by Defendants Christ Brant, Michael Dean, and Derek Hundley, and a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 50) filed by Defendants Christopher Cale and Robert Kidwell. The matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams by United States District Judge Michael J. Reagan pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(B) and (c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and Local Rule 72.1(a). It is RECOMMENDED that the District Court ADOPT the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, and GRANT Defendants' motions for summary judgment (Docs. 26, 27 and Doc. 50).
FINDINGS OF FACT
A. Procedural Background
Plaintiff, currently in custody at Williamson County Jail, filed his complaint on October 14, 2014 alleging that he was physically assaulted by Defendants while he was incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center and that following the incident Defendants retaliated against him and failed to provide him with proper medical treatment (Doc. 1). As narrowed by the Court's threshold review, Plaintiff's complaint alleged that on August 21, 2014, several inmates that had just been transferred to Lawrence and upon their arrival were taken to the shower and beaten by several guards (Doc. 13, p. 1). One of those inmates was then transferred to a cell next to Plaintiff's segregation cell where Defendants Dean, Hundley, Cole, Brant, and Kidwell continued to beat him ( Id. ). Plaintiff called out to the officers objecting to the attack. Defendant Dean yelled back to Plaintiff that he was next ( Id. at p. 1-2).
When Defendants were done with the inmate, they ordered Plaintiff to cuff up and took him to the showers where he was beaten by the officers while his hands remained cuffed behind his back (Doc. 13, p. 2). After the attack, Plaintiff asked for medical treatment but was refused ( Id. ). Defendant Dean warned Plaintiff not to inform a nurse when she passed out medication later that day or they would come back and beat Plaintiff ( Id. ). Plaintiff did not say anything to the nurse that day out of fear. Plaintiff alleges that the attack caused him black eyes, a split lip, and injuries to his lower back and abdomen ( Id. ). Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive treatment for his injuries prior to filing his complaint ( Id. ).
After the attack, on September 17, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that he refused to let an officer close his food-tray slot until he was allowed to talk to someone about what was going on in segregation (Doc. 13, p. 2). Plaintiff was taken to two lieutenants and he told them about the beatings and refusal to obtain him medical treatment ( Id. at p. 3). Later that same day, Defendants Dean and Hundley removed Plaintiff and his cellmate from their cell and searched it ( Id. ). Plaintiff allegedly saw them go through Plaintiff's legal mail and remove a letter to the warden, four grievances, and a complaint filed with the Illinois State Police regarding the beating ( Id. ). Dean took the documents.
On September 18 and 21, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Dean refused to give him a food tray on the 3:00 to 11:00 shift and again refused Plaintiff a breakfast tray on the September 21, 2014 morning shift (Doc. 13, p. 3). Defendant Dean allegedly told Plaintiff that "snitches don't eat." ( Id. ). Plaintiff alleges that Dean told other inmates that Plaintiff was a snitch ( Id. ).
In response to Plaintiff's complaint, Defendants filed the pending motions for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing his complaint. Defendants noted that the ARB did not receive any grievances regarding the allegations alleged in Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 27-1, p. 3-4; Doc. 29-1). Defendants also pointed out that one of Plaintiff's counselors, Tony Kittle, denied telling Plaintiff that his grievances would not be processed and indeed responded to past grievances submitted by Plaintiff (Doc. 59-1, p. 1; 59-2). Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' motions arguing that he attempted to exhaust his administrative grievances by submitting them in the mail at Lawrence but that his mail was intercepted by Defendants and his counselor, who refused to process his grievances.
B. Pavey Hearing
As there was a dispute of fact as to whether Plaintiff attempted to submit grievances but was thwarted in his process, the undersigned held a hearing pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008).
Tony Kittle, a correctional counselor at Lawrence Correctional Center, first testified that he was Plaintiff's counselor while Plaintiff was in general population. Kittle testified that he would not have received the grievances about the incidents which took place in August and September 2014, which form the basis of Plaintiff's complaint, because Plaintiff was in segregation at the time and the counselor in segregation would have reviewed the grievances. He testified that he did not prevent Plaintiff from filing grievances and that he returned two grievances on August 28, 2014 that Plaintiff filed while he was in general population (Doc. 59-2, p. 1).
Collin Ray, another correctional counsel at Lawrence, testified that he was Plaintiff's correctional counselor while Plaintiff was in segregation. Plaintiff was in segregation from August 2014 until January 2015. The cumulative counseling summary reflects that Ray met with Plaintiff on August 11, 2014 for his 72-hour segregation contact (Doc. 59-2, p. 1). Ray testified that inmates may submit grievances while in segregation by either placing the grievance in the grievance box in the foyer when they are moved, although Ray admitted that inmates in segregation are not moved often. He also testified that inmates may submit grievances directly to the counselor or to an inmate porter who can also put the grievance in the lockbox. Ray stated that he did not know whether it was against IDOC policy to submit grievances to inmate porters and that he cannot control who an inmate chooses to give his grievances to. He acknowledged that ...