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Willis v. Scott

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

February 22, 2017

MACEO WILLIS, JR., Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff proceeds pro se from his detention in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Act. He pursues claims arising from an alleged assault against him by his roommate, the punishment he received for fighting, and an alleged delay in medical care for the injuries he suffered.

         Defendants have filed motions for summary judgment. For the reasons below, Plaintiff's failure to protect claim survives summary judgment against Defendants Hankins, Kunkel, Caraway, and Scott. Summary judgment on Plaintiff's procedural due process claim against Defendants Caraway, Reid, and Hankins is denied with leave to renew. Summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim for delay of medical care is granted.


         On December 4, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred from the Illinois Department of Corrections to the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center. After the initial intake procedures, Plaintiff was placed in a room with resident Antonio Williamson on December 10, 2014. According to Plaintiff, resident Williamson was not happy about moving to the top bunk and behaved strangely from the start, spying on Plaintiff during the night, but Plaintiff did not alert Defendants or any other employees to Plaintiff's concerns. (Pl.'s Dep. 13-15.)

         In the early morning hours of December 16, 2014, while Plaintiff and resident Williams were locked in their room, resident Williamson hopped down from his bunk and put his shoes on, ready to fight. Plaintiff then put his pants on, whereupon Williamson said, “I'm gonna fight you” and “bum-rushed Plaintiff football style.” (Pl.'s Dep. 20.) Plaintiff fell back on the bed with Williamson on top while Williamson punched Plaintiff. (Pl.'s Dep. 62.) In self-defense, Plaintiff pressed a pen in Williamson's side. (Pl.'s Dep. 63-64.) Plaintiff called to a guard for help, and both Plaintiff and Williamson were taken to the healthcare unit. (Pl.'s Dep. 67.)

         The parties dispute what precipitated the fight and whether Plaintiff stabbed Williamson in the eye with a pen or just pressed the pen in Williamson's side, but factual disputes are resolved in Plaintiff's favor at this stage. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         Medical records show that Plaintiff was seen at the healthcare unit on December 16, 2014, at 3:15 a.m. The records state that Plaintiff had a 2.5 centimeter laceration on Plaintiff's right cheek and Plaintiff maintains he had a cut on his eyelid, bruises, and pain. Dr. Lochard, the facility's treating doctor, was notified, and Plaintiff was given Tylenol as needed. Gauze pads were applied to Plaintiff's wound every two hours. (Pl.'s 12/16/16 progress note, 65-2, p. 1; Pl.'s Dep. 25-26, 71-72.) At around 9:00 a.m. that morning, Dr. Lochard sutured Plaintiff's wound with four stitches. (Pl.'s Dep. 26, 71-71; Pl.'s 12/16/14 progress note, d/e 65-2, p. 2.)

         After Dr. Lochard treated Plaintiff, Plaintiff was placed on “temporary special” status, which is akin to segregation. Plaintiff was given a notice to appear before the behavior committee, the disciplinary committee for the facility. The notice charged Plaintiff with fighting, but Plaintiff could not read the notice because Plaintiff did not have his eyeglasses. On December 17, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before the behavior committee and was read the notice. Plaintiff offered a written affidavit in his defense, but Defendants found Plaintiff guilty of fighting. The punishment was 30 days of “close status” and 90 days recommended for using the “black box” restraint during transports. The black box is a restraint attached between handcuffs which further restricts hand movement.


         I. Appointment of Counsel

         Plaintiff's prior motions for appointed counsel were denied by Magistrate Judge Shanzle-Haskins on the grounds that Plaintiff appears competent to proceed pro se in light of the relatively simple nature of Plaintiff's claims. (6/26/15 text order, citing Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654-55 (7th Cir. 2007). This Court agrees. The Court does not have the authority to require an attorney to accept pro bono appointment on a civil case such as this. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 653. In determining whether the Court should attempt to find an attorney to voluntarily take the case without pay, the question is “given the difficulty of the case, does the plaintiff appear competent to litigate it himself?" Id. at 654-55 (7th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff's pleadings adequately communicate the facts underlying his claim and demonstrate some knowledge of the applicable law and procedure. Plaintiff already has personal knowledge of many of the relevant facts and has been able to obtain relevant information in discovery. Additionally, Plaintiff has his high school degree and certificates in automotive servicing, industrial electronics, computer science, and advanced electronic technology. (Pl.'s Dep. 8.) Plaintiff also has significant experience litigating in federal court, according to a search of computerized records. On this record, Plaintiff appears competent to proceed pro se.

         II. Failure to Protect Claim

         To succeed on his claim for failure to protect, Plaintiff must have evidence that resident Williamson posed a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff and that Defendants knew about and disregarded ...

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