United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
proceeds pro se from his incarceration in Pontiac
Correctional Center on claims for failure to protect,
excessive force, inhumane conditions, and procedural due
process violations. The case is at the summary judgment
stage. For the reasons explained below, summary judgment is
granted to Defendants on the failure to protect and
procedural due process claims. Summary judgment is denied on
the excessive force claim. Summary judgment is denied with
leave to renew on the inhumane conditions claim.
facts are set forth in the light most favorable to Plaintiff,
drawing reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor, as
required at the summary judgment stage. 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.
claims arise from events which began on September 30, 2014 in
Pontiac Correctional Center. That day, Officer Cerda, who is
not a Defendant, instructed Plaintiff to move into a cell
with an inmate Daniels whom Plaintiff believed was a sexual
predator. Plaintiff had heard rumors that the inmate Daniels
was homosexual and had a history of sexual assaults on and
sexual misconduct with his cellmates. (Pl.'s Dep. 22.)
Plaintiff refused to cell with inmate Daniels, whereupon
Plaintiff was handcuffed behind his back and escorted to a
cage in the sick call area. (Pl.'s Dep. 23.) Concerned
about why officers tried to move Plaintiff into the cell with
inmate Daniels, Plaintiff asked to speak to a Lieutenant and
also asked that his tight handcuffs be loosened. (Pl.'s
Dep. 24.) Defendant Tovrea refused, and the two had words.
Id. Plaintiff started kicking the cage and yelling
for a Lieutenant because Plaintiff felt threatened by
Defendant Tovrea. Id.
Tovrea entered the cage-what happened after that is disputed.
Plaintiff contends that Tovrea grabbed Plaintiff by the
throat and slammed Plaintiff onto a concrete bench, whereupon
Plaintiff's head bounced off the concrete and hit
Tovrea's nose, causing Tovrea's nose to bleed.
Defendant Tovrea maintains that Plaintiff “kicked off
the bench striking [Tovrea] in the nose with his right
elbow.” (Adj. Com. Final Summ. Report, d/e 46-2, p. 1.)
Plaintiff maintains that Defendants Skeen and Blackard came
to the scene and slammed Plaintiff's head into the floor,
smacked him repeatedly on the back of his head, rammed his
head into the wall, and used other unnecessary force.
(Pl.'s Dep. p. 26.)
was then, for a couple of hours, placed in a cell without
running water and with “feces and stuff in the
toilet” and on the floor. Plaintiff was eventually
moved to a cell “that had piss on the floor, feces in
the toilet, and the cell was completely a mess.”
Plaintiff's requests for cleaning supplies were ignored.
(Pl.'s Dep. 32, 91.)
Tovrea wrote Plaintiff a disciplinary report for assault and
disobeying a direct order. In the disciplinary hearing,
Plaintiff was found guilty of both charges, receiving a
punishment that included the revocation of one year of good
time. (Adj. Com. Final Summ. Report, d/e 46-2, p. 1.) The
Adjustment Committee found that Plaintiff had refused to
comply with orders to sit down and that, as Tovrea “was
about to secure [Plaintiff] to the bench, [Plaintiff] kicked
off the bench striking this officer in the nose with his
right elbow. [Tovrea's] nose was bleeding bad and sent to
HCU to be evaluated.” Id. Plaintiff maintains
that he was not permitted to call as witnesses the other
inmates in the sick call area, who would have disputed
Defendant Tovrea's account. Plaintiff also maintains that
striking Tovrea with Plaintiff's elbow would have been
impossible since Plaintiff was handcuffed behind his back.
Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect claim requires evidence
that a defendant was deliberately indifferent to a
substantial risk of serious harm. Brown v. Budz, 398
F.3d 904, 909, 913 (7th Cir.2005); Riccardo v.
Rausch, 375 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir.2004). A substantial
risk of serious harm is one in which the risk is
"'so great'" that it is "'almost
certain to materialize if nothing is done.'"
Brown, 398 F.3d at 911 (quoted cites omitted).
argues that Defendants Blackard and Skeens should have known
that Plaintiff was too vulnerable to be placed in a cell with
inmate Daniels. However, Plaintiff presents no evidence to
substantiate his fears about inmate Daniels. No reasonable
inference arises from this record that inmate Daniels
actually posed any risk to Plaintiff or that anyone was aware
of a risk. That Plaintiff refused to cell with inmate Daniels
based on rumors would not have put anyone on notice that
inmate Daniels actually presented a substantial risk of
serious harm to Plaintiff. See Gevas v. McLaughlin
798 F.3d 475, 480-81 (7th Cir. 2015)(“Complaints that
convey only a generalized, vague, or stale concern about
one's safety typically will not support an inference that
a prison official had actual knowledge that the prisoner was
in danger.”). Further, Plaintiff suffered no harm.
See Jones v. Butler, 2016 WL 4994649 (7th
Cir. 2016)(not published in Federal Reporter)(“Absent
cognizable harm” inmate's claim of failure to
protect from threats of violence fails)(citing Babcock
v. White, 102 F.3d 267, 272 (7th Cir.
1996)(“It is the reasonably preventable assault itself,
rather than any fear of assault, that gives rise to a
compensable claim under the Eighth Amendment.”) Summary
judgment must be granted to Defendants on this claim.
judgment must also be granted to Defendants on
Plaintiff's procedural due process claim regarding his
disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff's claim that he was not
allowed to present exonerating evidence necessarily implies
that his one year of good time should be restored. Claims
which “necessarily imply the invalidity of the
deprivation of . . . [an inmate's] good-time
credits” are not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
until the prison disciplinary decision has otherwise been
invalidated, for example by expungement, a state court order,
or a writ of habeas corpus. Edwards v. Balisok, 520
U.S. 641, 648 (1997). This rule stems from the Supreme Court
case of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994),
which held that an inmate cannot challenge his sentence or
conviction through an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff's procedural due process claim, Plaintiff's
excessive force claim may proceed despite the good time
revocation, though Plaintiff cannot challenge the
disciplinary committee's factual findings. Plaintiff will
have to accept the disciplinary committee's version for
purposes of the trial. See Gilbert v. Cook, 512 F.3d
899, 901 (7th Cir. 2008).
for discussion is Plaintiff's claim that the cells he was
placed in after the hearing were unsanitary. The Eighth
Amendment prohibits deliberate indifference to inhumane
prison conditions. Inhumane conditions are “objectively
serious deprivations, ” deprivations of the
“minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities” according to “evolving standards of
decency.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346
(1981). Deliberate indifference is “‘actual
knowledge of impending harm easily ...