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McKinleyy v. Schoenbeck

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 29, 2017



          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Bernard McKinley, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). McKinley claims that he was subjected to retaliatory actions, including placement in administrative detention, [1] in retaliation for providing insufficient information to internal affairs officers regarding an investigation and filing a lawsuit. McKinley also alleges that, while he was in administrative detention, he was placed in cells with unsanitary and unlivable conditions.

         The Court screened McKinley's amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and allowed him to proceed on the following claims:

Count One: Defendants Phelps and Schoenbeck retaliated against McKinley for providing negative answers to their questions and for his religious beliefs by placing him in segregation;[2]
Count Two: Defendant Phelps and Schoenbeck retaliated against McKinley for filing lawsuits by placing him in administrative segregation, using excessive force against him, and thwarting his plans to marry; and
Count Three: Defendant Phelps and Schoenbeck subjected McKinley to unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

         On July 2, 2015, McKinley was granted leave to file a second amended complaint that added Chad Hasemeyer and Jacqueline Lashbrook as Defendants to Count One (see Docs. 42 and 43). Defendants then filed the motion for summary judgment and memorandum in support that are now before the Court (Docs. 94 and 95), to which McKinley filed a timely response (Doc. 105). Having carefully considered the briefs and all of the evidence submitted by the parties, for the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 94).[3]

         Factual Background

         McKinley's claims in this matter stems from a series of interviews Defendant Chad Hasemeyer conducted with McKinley while Defendant Hasemeyer was the sergeant of the Intelligence Unit at Menard. These interviews took place in July and August 2012 (Deposition of Plaintiff Bernard McKinley, Doc. 95-1, pp. 8-9; see Affidavit of Chad Hasemeyer, Doc. 95-2, ¶¶ 1, 4, 7, 16). Although the interviews were conducted by Defendant Hasemeyer, Defendants Lashbrook, Schoenbeck, and Phelps were all present at times during the interviews (Doc. 95-1, pp. 10-13).

         There are disputes as to what was discussed during these interviews, however, because he is the non-movant, the Court construes the facts in McKinley's favor. See Chaib v. Geo Group, Inc., 819 F.3d 337, 341 (7th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted). According to McKinley, during these interviews he was asked to provide information regarding certain individuals and their involvement in security threat groups (“STGs”) (Doc. 95-1, pp. 14-15; Doc. 105, pp. 7-8). McKinley was questioned about a tattoo of a cobra on his arm, which he admitted is a symbol that may be associated with the Spanish Cobras, an STG, but denied that the tattoo is a reflection of his personal involvement with the Cobras. (Doc. 95-1, pp. 38-42). McKinley said these interviews were attempts to make him a confidential informant (Doc. 95-1, p. 20; Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, [4] Doc. 43, p. 8).

         Following his interview on July 18, 2012, when McKinley indicated he did not have the information sought by Defendants, he was placed under investigative status in administrative detention and, as a result of his placement in administrative detention, he lost his job in dietary (Doc. 43, p. 8; Doc. 95-1, pp. 19-20; see also Affidavit of Chad Hasemeyer, Doc. 95-2, ¶ 15). On or about August 1, 2012, McKinley was again interviewed by Defendant Hasemeyer (with at least two of the other Defendants present) (Doc. 43, p. 8; Doc. 95-2, ¶ 16). McKinley again indicated he did not have the information they sought, and he refused to become their confidential informant (Doc. 43, p. 8; Doc. 105, p. 8). Defendants then told McKinley “they could be his best friend or worse [sic] nightmare” and advised McKinley that he “better give them something to go off of in regard to information” (Doc. 43, p. 8).

         McKinley was released from administrative detention on August 6, 2012, but his job was not reinstated (Doc. 43, p. 8). McKinley was subsequently placed back in administrative detention on August 24, 2012 (Doc. 43, p. 8). At some point during his placement in administrative detention, Defendant Lashbrook walked by McKinley's cell and told McKinley that for inmates “who refuse to cooperate, they can be put under investigation at any time” and that “she was the one who took [his] institutional job” (Doc. 95-1, p. 19). McKinley was released from administrative detention on September 26, 2012, which, he contends, was four-days beyond the thirty-day limit (Doc. 43, p. 8).

         McKinley was called for a third investigatory interview on October 16, 2012, and he made it clear that he was being harassed and retaliated against for no reason other than the internal affairs officers trying to force him to become a confidential informant (Doc. 43, p. 8). McKinley was told by these officers that “he better just tell them what they wanted to know” (Doc. 43, p. 8). McKinley was again placed in administrative detention on October 25, 2012 (Doc. 43, p. 9). McKinley was in administrative detention at Menard from October 25, 2012, until his deposition on November 18, 2015 (when he anticipated he would be released from administrative detention within the next two weeks) (Doc. 95-1, p. 58). McKinley was never issued a disciplinary ticket during his time in administrative detention (Doc. 43, p. 12).

         While he was in administrative detention, McKinley was placed in a cell with no heat or hot water during the winter months, and there were no supplies to clean his cell, although it had dirt and rodent feces on the floor (Doc. 43, p. 9; Doc. 95-1, pp. 73-79). The cell conditions exacerbated McKinley's asthma, and he experienced difficulty breathing (Doc. 43, p. 9). Defendants Schoenbeck and Phelps made rounds in McKinley's cell house on numerous occasions, and when McKinley complained to Defendant Phelps about his living conditions, Defendant Phelps indicated that he would “have to just deal with it” (Doc. 43, p. 9). Defendant Schoenbeck usually ignored McKinley's complaints, but on one occasion, Defendant Schoenbeck told McKinley that he “should not have decided to come to administrative detention” (Doc. 43, p. 9).

         On November 7, 2013, McKinley was questioned by Defendant Phelps. Defendant Phelps asked McKinley about a pending lawsuit filed by McKinley and remarked that “filing lawsuits will only make you stay in administrative detention longer” (Doc. 43, p. 10; Doc. 95-1, p. 25-28).

         Subsequently, McKinley was placed in the step-down program to be released from administrative detention. In January or February of 2014, McKinley requested a marriage license request form, and placed his request form in outgoing mail directed to the chaplain (Doc. 95-1, pp. 48, 63). Defendant Schoenbeck received and reviewed all outgoing mail. After he saw McKinley's request, he said to McKinley, “Oh, so you're planning on getting married” (Doc. 95-1, p. 61). In April 2014, McKinley was removed from the step-down program and placed back in the administrative detention wing, which limited his ability to submit his marriage request form (see Doc. 43, p. 10; see Doc. 95-1, pp. 63-64). McKinley testified that Defendant Schoenbeck placed him back on the administrative detention wing because he had written grievances and was trying to get his marriage approved (Doc. 95-1, pp. 63-64). McKinley concluded this after he asked Defendant Schoenbeck why he was being put back on the administrative detention wing, and Defendant Schoenbeck did not reply when McKinley asked if it was “because all of them grievances” (Doc. 95-1, p. 65).

         On October 1, 2014, McKinley, while seated on a bench waiting to be taken back to his cell after meeting with a mental health counselor, was confronted by Defendant Phelps (Doc. 43, p. 10). Defendant Phelps repeatedly pushed McKinley in the back in an attempt to provoke McKinley, but McKinley remained sitting, despite the fact that the physical contact caused McKinley pain (Doc. 43, p. 10). In his amended complaint, McKinley indicated that Defendant Phelps' actions were attributable to his knowledge of McKinley's lawsuits (Doc. 43, p. 10).

         Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate “that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005); Black Agents & Brokers Agency, Inc., v. Near North Ins. Brokerage, Inc., 409 F.3d 833, 836 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that no material facts are in genuine dispute; any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue must be resolved against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970); see also Lawrence v. Kenosha Cty., 391 F.3d 837, 842 (7th Cir. 2004). A moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law where the non-moving party “has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. “[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Id. The Seventh Circuit has stated that summary judgment “is the put ...

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