United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JAMELL A. MURPHY, B63752, Plaintiff,
JOHN BALDWIN, JACQUILINE LASHBROOK, L.T. DAVID MITCHELL, C/O OFFICER PORTER, and C/O OFFICER JOHN DOE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court to address the request for
preliminary injunction included in Plaintiff's Complaint.
(Doc. 6, p. 7).
Jamell A. Murphy, an inmate currently housed at Stateville
Correctional Center, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff brings allegations pertaining to
constitutional violations that allegedly occurred while he
was housed at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”). According to the Complaint, on June
16, 2017, Plaintiff was the victim of excessive force.
Plaintiff claims that at 10:00 a.m. “West House Menard
Eight Gallery Officer Web called gym line.” (Doc. 6, p.
3). At around 10:45 a.m., inmates in the west cell house
(galleries 8 and 5) were ordered to leave and exit the gym
due to a separate incident. Id. When 8 gallery was
exiting the gym (but while Plaintiff was still inside the gym
doors), there was another altercation between inmates and
staff. Id. Plaintiff heard Porter say,
“Y'all keep acting up, I'm gonna stomp one of
you nigger's brains out.” Id. At that
point, warning shots were fired from two gun towers. (Doc. 6,
p. 4). All inmates were then ordered to get on the ground.
Id. Plaintiff contends that while on the ground,
handcuffed, and not resisting, he was assaulted by John Doe,
Porter, and/or Mitchell. Id.
claims that video footage from “the towers etc.”
will support his claims. Id. Plaintiff also contends
that he previously filed a grievance pertaining to the
assault and, in that grievance, requested that officials
preserve footage from the day in question. Id. At
the close of his Complaint, Plaintiff seeks a
“preliminary and permanent injunction” ordering
Defendants “to preserve video footage from June 16,
2017 and to stop racially profiling and assaulting and
murdering inmates with the use of excessive force.”
(Doc. 6, p. 7).
the latter request, clearly officials are not permitted to
assault and murder inmates. If Plaintiff were still housed at
Menard and could establish that he was in danger of being
murdered or assaulted by Defendants, a preliminary injunction
might be warranted. However, Plaintiff is presently at
Stateville. As such, a preliminary injunction is not
necessary to protect Plaintiff from officials at
has also requested a preliminary or permanent injunction
pertaining to video surveillance from June 16, 2017. This
request is more appropriately understood as a motion to
preserve evidence, which, as is explained more fully below,
has a duty to preserve evidence when he knows, or should have
known, that litigation is imminent. Trask-Morton v. Motel
6 Operating L.P., 534 F.3d 672, 681 (7th Cir. 2008). The
scope of the duty to preserve evidence is broad, encompassing
any relevant evidence that the non-preserving party knew or
reasonably could foresee would be relevant to imminent or
pending litigation. Melendez v. Illinois Bell Tel.
Co., 79 F.3d 661, 671 (7th Cir. 1996); Marrocco v.
General Motors Corp., 966 F.2d 220, 223-225 (7th Cir.
1992). Thus, once the duty to preserve is triggered, the
party owes a duty to preserve evidence that may be sought
during discovery and should implement a plan to find and
preserve relevant evidence. Finally, a party's duty to
preserve information is not a passive obligation; it must be
discharged actively. See Marrocco, 966 F.2d at
Defendants already have a duty to preserve relevant evidence,
the Court finds that an order requiring Defendants not to
destroy evidence is unnecessary. Here, if relevant evidence
is (or was) destroyed after the duty to preserve attaches (or
attached), Defendants will be subject to sanctions. At this
time, the Court makes no comment on when the duty to preserve
was triggered (At the time of the assault? When Plaintiff
filed a grievance? When Defendants received notice of the
instant action?). That question can be addressed, if
necessary, with a more fully developed record as the case
to ensure that there is no confusion going forward and
because Defendants have not yet been served in this case, the
Court will provide Jacqueline Lashbrook, the current warden
of Menard, with a copy of this order.
reasons described herein, Plaintiffs request for a
preliminary injunction is DENIED. The Court reminds
Defendants that they are under a duty to preserve relevant
evidence. That duty is unquestionably triggered by the
issuance of this Order. However, depending on when Defendants
knew of should have known that litigation was imminent, the
duty may have attached prior to issuance of this Order.
Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to mail a copy of this
Memorandum and Order to Plaintiff and to the Jacqueline
Lashbrook, Menard's warden.