United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE, United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Shana Bebout's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 50). Plaintiff Darrian Daniels filed a
response (Doc. 54). For the following reasons,
Defendant's motion is DENIED.
Darrian Daniels, an inmate with the Illinois Department of
Corrections, filed this action asserting that his
constitutional rights were violated in March 2014 while he
was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”). Specifically, Daniels alleges that
Defendant Thomas Mezo and other unknown correctional officers
subjected him to excessive force in violation of his Eighth
Amendment rights. Daniels further alleges that Mezo and other
unknown correctional officers violated his Eighth Amendment
rights by placing him in a cell with a violent inmate,
thereby causing him to be physically assaulted. Additionally,
Daniels claims that he notified Defendant Shana Bebout of the
threats made against him by Mezo and the other officers and
that her failure to take corrective action violated his
Eighth Amendment rights.
March 21, 2014, Daniels was interviewed by Defendant Shana
Bebout, an employee at the Menard Internal Affairs office
(Doc. 51-1, p. 3, Doc. 51-3, pp. 1-2). Daniels had been
receiving threats from correctional officer Thomas Mezo, and
the interview was held to investigate Daniels'
allegations regarding Mezo (Doc. 51-1, p. 3). During the
interview, Daniels told Bebout that Mezo had made threatening
remarks towards him (including that he was going to
“beat his ass”, Doc. 54, p. 3), was issuing him
false disciplinary tickets and had threatened to keep him in
the segregation unit indefinitely (Doc. 51-1, p. 3). Daniels
also told Bebout that Mezo's actions were in retaliation
for grievances and other lawsuits he had filed (Doc. 51-1,
interview with Bebout did not go well, and Daniels was later
issued a disciplinary report for “insolence” and
“disobeying a direct order” (Doc. 51-3, p. 1).
According to the disciplinary report, Daniels began to act in
a belligerent and hostile manner during the interview.
Id. Bebout ordered him to calm down, but he declined
to do so. Id. Daniels was then escorted out of the
Internal Affairs office and returned to his cell.
same day, Daniels received a new cellmate, Roderick
Allen. During his deposition, Daniels testified
that Allen had a reputation for being mentally unstable,
hostile and generally an unpleasant individual (Doc. 51-1, p.
6). After arriving in the cell, Allen began making threats
toward Daniels and told Daniels that he was not supposed to
have a cellmate. Id. Daniels complained about the
cell assignment to Mezo, but Mezo declined to transfer either
of the two. Id.
between Daniels and Allen escalated and on March 24, 2014,
Allen physically assaulted Daniels (Doc. 51-1, pp. 6-8).
Daniels yelled out for help, and the two were escorted to the
Menard Health Care Unit to be examined (Doc. 51-1, p. 7). At
the health care unit, Mezo told Daniels that he was
“tired of his shit” and that he was going to
“stomp” him. Id. After Daniels was
finished at the health care unit, he was escorted back to his
cell by Mezo and at least two other correctional officers
(Doc. 51-1, p. 8). When they arrived at Daniels' cell,
Mezo and the other correctional officers physically assaulted
him (Doc. 51-1, p. 9). The assault lasted for two to three
minutes, after which Daniels was placed in the cell.
Id. On April 17, 2014, Daniels was transferred from
Menard to Pontiac Correctional Center.
judgment is proper if the “movant shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When presented with a motion for summary
judgment, the facts and all reasonable inferences are to be
drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. Kasten v.
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., 703 F.3d 966,
972 (7th Cir. 2012). At this stage of the litigation
“the court has one task and one task only: to decide,
based on the evidence of record, whether there is any
material dispute of fact that requires a trial.”
Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920
(7th Cir. 1994).
prison official's ‘deliberate indifference' to
a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate violates the
Eighth Amendment.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 828, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1974, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). To
establish a failure to protect claim, the plaintiff must
demonstrate two elements. First, the plaintiff must show that
that he “experienced, or was exposed to, a serious
harm, [and] that there was a substantial risk beforehand that
that serious harm might actually occur.” Brown v.
Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 910 (7th Cir. 2005). Second, the
plaintiff must show that the defendants were deliberately
indifferent to that risk. Id. at 913.
contends that Bebout's failure to take corrective action
to mitigate the threat to him posed by Mezo constitutes
deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment. Bebout
argues that she is entitled to summary judgment because
“[p]laintiff has no evidence that [she] had actual
knowledge of any risk of harm to Plaintiff-let alone a
serious and specific risk.” However, Daniels testified
at his deposition that he was given an Internal Affairs
interview because he had written letters to the warden
complaining of threats from Mezo. During the interview,
Daniels told Bebout that Mezo had made threats of physical
violence and was issuing him false disciplinary charges.
Three days later, the threat materialized and Daniels was
physically assaulted by Mezo in front of his cell in the
segregation unit. This evidence is sufficient to present a
question for the jury's determination as to whether
Bebout was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of
serious harm to Daniels.
also asserts that she is entitled to qualified immunity.
“Officials are sheltered from suit, under a doctrine
known as qualified immunity, when their conduct ‘does
not violate clearly established ... constitutional
rights' a reasonable official, similarly situated, would
have comprehended.” Wood v. Moss, 134 S.Ct.
2056, 2061, 188 L.Ed.2d 1039 (2014) (quoting Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73
L.Ed.2d 396 (1982)). To determine whether a defendant is
entitled to qualified immunity, courts apply a two pronged
test. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201, 121 S.Ct.
2151, 2156, 150 L.Ed.2d 272 (2001). The first prong is a
question of whether; “[t]aken in the light most
favorable to the party asserting the injury, do the facts
alleged show the officer's conduct violated a
constitutional right?” Id. The next prong is
an inquiry as to “whether the right was clearly
previously noted, Daniels has presented sufficient evidence
to establish that Bebout was deliberately indifferent to a
substantial risk of serious harm, thereby violating his
Eighth Amendment rights. The question thus becomes whether
that right was clearly established. Daniels presented
evidence that he informed Bebout of a specific threat from a
specific source. she failed to take action and the threat
materialized. The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly held that
such circumstances may form the basis of a failure to protect
claim. See, e.g., Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 912
(7th Cir. 2005); Billman v. Indiana Dep't of
Corr., 56 F.3d 785, 788 (7th Cir. 1995). As such,