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Harris v. Hodge

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 4, 2016

LARRY G. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK HODGE, MARK STORM, JOSHUA SIMMS, ROBERT ADAMS, JERRY TANNER, WALTER MCCORMICK, TIMOTHY BRAKE, CHARLES ROUSH, CHAD RUCKER, RICHARD MARSHOFF, SHAYNE DOWNEN, KEVIN JOHNSON, JERROD CARTER, and BRADLEY AUSBROOK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Before the Court are the Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants (Doc. 179) and by Plaintiff Larry Harris (Doc. 176). Harris is an inmate with the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendants in this case are employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections. On October 31, 2011, Harris filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights (Doc. 1). Harris now proceeds on his Second Amended Complaint, which alleges the following claims:

Count 1: A First Amendment claim against Defendants McCormick, Carter, and Johnson for retaliating against Harris for the exercise of his constitutionally protected right to file grievances.
Count 2: A claim against Defendants Hodge, Downen, Simms, Storm, Adams, Tanner, Brake, Roush, Rucker, Marshoff, Ausbrook, McCormick, Johnson, and Carter for failing to allow Harris adequate time to eat his meals, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Count 3: A First Amendment claim against Defendants Hodge and Storm for acquiescing to the retaliatory conduct of various correctional officers.
Count 4: A First Amendment claim against Defendants Hodge and Storm for retaliating against Harris for the exercise of his constitutionally protected right to file lawsuits by transferring Harris from Lawrence Correctional Center to Menard Correctional Center.

         Both Harris and Defendants seek summary judgment on all counts. For the following reasons, the Court denies Harris's Motion for Summary Judgment and grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on all counts.

         Background

         From December 8, 2009, to June 5, 2013, Harris was incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), a medium security prison (Doc. 179-1 at 1). Defendant Hodge served as the warden and chief administrative officer at Lawrence, and Defendant Storm served as the assistant warden (Doc. 179-2 at 60). The remaining defendants served as correctional officers (Id. at 34).

         At Lawrence, breakfast is delivered to the inmates' cells, but lunch and dinner are eaten at the prison chow hall. Harris chose not to eat breakfast (Id. at 15-16). For lunch and dinner, the policy at Lawrence was to allow inmates 10 minutes to eat their meal in the chow hall (Id. at 9). Inmates that receive special dietary meals, such as Harris, who has a soy-free diet, are placed in the back of the line. Harris intentionally placed himself at the very end of the line behind other inmates with special diets (Id. at 21). At some point in 2010, Harris filed one or more grievances against Defendants McCormick, Carter, and Johnson regarding the amount of time he was allowed to eat (Id. at 45-46).

         On the morning of October 17, 2011, Defendants McCormick, Carter, and Johnson went to Harris's cell and instructed Harris and his cellmate to remove their clothing except for underwear, t-shirts, and shower shoes (Doc. 179-2 at 39). The officers locked Harris and his cellmate in the shower cell (Id.). The officers then searched Harris's cell for two and a half hours for a makeshift heating device called a “stinger.” (Id. at 44). The officers also instructed Harris and his cellmate to remove the rest of their clothing and bend over as they used a metal detector to check for contraband (Id. at 39). The officers found no contraband (Id. at 40).

         From August 2012 to May 2013, Harris wrote down the time allowed for lunch and dinner, the attending officers, and the contents of the meal (Id. at 23; 176-1 at 91-96; Doc. 177 at 1-21). The actual time allowed fluctuated between 5 minutes and 20 minutes (Doc. 179-2 at 62). Harris supplemented his diet with additional food from the commissary, spending hundreds of dollars per month on such goods (Doc. 179-3). During his time at Lawrence, Harris's weight fluctuated from 205 pounds to 162 pounds (Id. at 63-64).

         Harris filed several grievances related to the time he was allowed to eat and sent several letters regarding the issue to Defendants Storm and Hodge (Doc. 176-1 at 73-80, 83-90; Doc. 177 at 129-34). Harris also complained to Defendants Storm and Hodge of retaliation by correctional officers on four occasions:

• On January 7, 2013, Harris sent a letter to Defendant Storm and complained that correctional officers retaliated against him by singling him out, directing him to the front of the line in the chow hall, and instructing him to take a meal tray and sit down. Defendant Storm responded by directing the correctional officers to ensure that inmates were allowed the allotted time for meals (Doc. 176-1 at 80).
• On January 8, 2013, Harris sent a letter to Defendant Storm and complained that correctional officers retaliated against him by singling him out and directing him to the front of the line in the chow hall, allowing Harris ten minutes to eat, and saying “See, Harris, you got ten minutes.” (Id. at 83).
• On May 24, 2013, Harris submitted an emergency grievance and complained that a correctional officer retaliated by searching him for a pen.[1] On May 30, 2013, Defendant Hodge responded that Harris's complaint did not constitute an emergency and instructed ...

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