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Horton v. Kleinlein

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 16, 2017

WANDA L. KLEINLEIN, et al. Defendants.



         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and presently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center, brought the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging retaliation, excessive force, and related state law claims. Defendants Kleinlein and Goins now move for summary judgment on Plaintiff's retaliation claims against them. (Doc. 84). The motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         Summary judgment should be granted “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). All facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in his favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to be a “genuine” issue, there must be more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).


         At all times relevant, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center (“Western”). Both Defendants worked at the facility: Defendant Kleinlein was a correctional sergeant, and Defendant Goins was the grievance officer.

         Starting in 2011, Plaintiff testified in his deposition that, on four (4) separate occasions, Defendant Kleinlein either prevented him from going to get “chow” (a meal) or sent him back from chow before he was able to eat. Pl.'s Dep. 21:1-10. Plaintiff testified that Defendant Kleinlein did not provide any reasons for doing so. Id.

         On December 15, 2012, Defendant Kleinlein prevented Plaintiff from going to chow, apparently because Plaintiff was not appropriately dressed-his shirt was allegedly untucked and his pants were unzipped. Id. 45:5-9. Plaintiff was sprayed with chemical spray after refusing commands to “cuff up.” During a physical altercation that ensued, Plaintiff struck Defendant Kleinlein twice in the face. Plaintiff does not deny striking Defendant Kleinlein, he only disputes that it was intentional. Plaintiff lost good-time credit in the disciplinary proceeding that followed, and he later pleaded guilty to the resulting criminal charges.

         As it relates to Defendant Goins, Plaintiff testified that he had filed several grievances against prison officials. E.g., id. 104:13-16. In her capacity as grievance officer, Plaintiff testified that Defendant Goins told the subjects of his grievances that Plaintiff had been filing them, which in turn exposed Plaintiff to an increased risk of retaliation. Plaintiff also testified that Defendant Goins failed to respond to several of his grievances. Id. 105:4-5 (Defendant Goins “would take [the grievances] and get rid of them for some reason.”).

         The parties agree that a triable issue of fact exists as to the excessive force claims against the other defendants.


         To prevail on a retaliation claim, the Plaintiff must show that he engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment; he suffered a deprivation that would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future; and the First Amendment activity motivated the decision to take retaliatory action. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 553 (7th Cir. 2009). If Plaintiff can make a prima facie showing that his protected activity was a “motivating factor” that caused the alleged harm, then the burden shifts to the defendants to show that the harm would have occurred anyway, despite the protected activity. Greene v. Doruff, 660 F.3d 975, 979 (7th Cir. 2011).

         Defendants do not argue that filing a grievance is a protected First Amendment activity. At least with respect to Defendant Kleinlein, Defendants also do not argue that Plaintiff has failed to make a prima facie showing of retaliation. Defendants Kleinlein and Goins argue that: (1) Plaintiff's retaliation claims against Defendant Kleinlein are barred pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994); (2) Plaintiff's First Amendment activity was not the reason for Defendant Kleinlein's actions; and (3) Plaintiff cannot provide evidence to support his claims that Defendant Goins retaliated against him. Defendants also assert a qualified immunity defense.

         Heck ...

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