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Myles v. Chandler

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division

September 12, 2017

Eddie H Myles (A-71068), Plaintiff,
Nedra Chandler, et al., Defendants.


          Philip G. Reinhard, Judge

         For the following reasons, defendants' motion for summary judgment [40] is denied. At the next hearing, the parties are to discuss with Judge Johnston the possibility of a settlement conference.


         On August 28, 2015, plaintiff Eddie H. Myles filed his first amended § 1983 complaint against defendants Warden Nedra Chandler and Officer Christopher Thompson [19], alleging that defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from assault by another inmate.

         On September 15, 2016, defendants Warden Chandler and Officer Thompson filed a joint motion for summary judgment [40], memorandum in support [41], and Rule 56.1 statement of facts [42]. Defendants contend that plaintiff's § 1983 claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), that plaintiff has failed to raise a genuine issue of fact that defendants failed to protect him, and that defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. See [41]. On October 31, 2016, plaintiff filed his response to the motion [46], response to the statement of facts [47], and Rule 56.1 statement of additional facts [48], along with an additional appendix of exhibits [49]. On November 15, 2016, defendants filed their reply [52] and response to plaintiff's additional facts [51].

         On summary judgment, the court construes all facts and draws all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Schepers v. Commissioner, Indiana Dept. of Corrections, 691 F.3d 909, 913 (7th Cir. 2012). The court does not weigh evidence or determine the credibility of witness testimony. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). Instead, the court only grants summary judgment “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). That said, Rule 56 “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In evaluating the motions and the undisputed facts located in the parties' Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Material Fact with respect to each motion, the court is cognizant of its obligation to construe all disputed and undisputed facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Schepers, 691 F.3d at 913.

         A. Factual Background.

         Plaintiff was an inmate incarcerated at Dixon Correctional Center during the relevant time. [47] at ¶ 1. Defendant Christopher Thompson was a Correctional Officer assigned to Internal Affairs at Dixon. [47] at ¶ 2. Nedra Chandler served as the Warden of Dixon during the relevant time. [47] at ¶ 3.

         In November of 2012, plaintiff was moved into a cell with inmate Milton Shepard. [47] at ¶ 15. On January 28, 2013, plaintiff fought with Shepard during an altercation about plaintiff's bottom bunk permit, which plaintiff testified Shepard was upset about. [47] at ¶ 16; [51] at ¶ 1. Plaintiff testified that he received twenty days in segregation for fighting with Shepard. [47] at ¶ 17.

         After the January altercation, [plaintiff] was threatened by Shepard. [51] at ¶ 5. Plaintiff testified that “from a distance, he'd threaten me, he'd threaten me up close, he would threaten me - officers heard it, inmates heard it - and a lot of times, I'd just ignore him and keep walking.” [47] at ¶ 12. Plaintiff testified in response to questioning that he was not “afraid” of Shepard, and that he was not afraid of anyone in prison. [47] at ¶ 25. Shepard testified that, after the January incident, he was “upset” and “mad at Plaintiff” and “wanted to hit him.” [51] at ¶ 6.

         Plaintiff testified that sometime after the January altercation he wrote a letter to Officer Thompson, and in that letter, stated that plaintiff's former cell mate was telling other inmates that he was going to do something in the gym or in the yard; plaintiff points to the full document. [47] at ¶ 18. In full, the letter provides as follows:

[page one]
Greetings, Mr. Thompson,
This is Eddie Myles #A-71068 in #58 Cell “01.”
I dropped a kite in the “Outgoing Mail Box” for you. So, this is concerning the same “thing.”
Short, brief, and to the point!
Several guys I know have came up to “me” and said; whenever you “see” your x-cellie, watch “him” because he's “talking about what he's gonna do to you, when he “catches you right” over in the “gym.” So, be “careful.” Or on that “yard.”
After hearing this: I naturally looked at the “yard and gym” schedule. He's now in “31.” I'm in #58. We have “yard together for sure, ” or at least while he's in “31” anyway.
I'm not trying to get “shot” on the yard, or “hurt.” I'm giving you my word that if I do have to raise my hands at my x-cellie, I will do it “defending myself.” I will try as best I can to “keep” some “distance” between us.” I just “wanted” you to know my x-cellie is “talkin crazy, ” Hey.” We'll “talk.”
[page two]
Between “us” I'd rather be in a “2-Man” “Cell, ” but I'm OK “Where I am” for now.
I would really appreciate it if I could get back to “60” or “26”? But, if I can't “I'm cool where I am.”
God knows I don't want “Any-problems.”
Just thought I'd let you know “before something happens” “what” I'm “hearing.” “We'll talk”…
To: Mr. Thompson. “I.A.”


         Plaintiff also testified that he sent an identical letter to Warden Chandler and placed it in her personal mailbox; he admits he does not have a copy of the letter, and that he does not know whether that letter was ever received by Warden Chandler. [47] at ¶ 13; [51] at ¶¶ 8, 10. Warden Chandler testified that she does not recall receiving Myles' letter. [51] at ¶ ...

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