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Gauthier v. Jumper

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

December 6, 2017

THOMAS A. GAUTHIER, Plaintiff,
v.
SHAN JUMPER, et al., Defendants.

          SUMMARY JUDGMENT ORDER

          ENTERED JAMES E. SHADID, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Now before the Court for consideration are two motions for summary judgment, one filed by Defendant Shan Jumper [72] and another filed by Defendants Joseph Hankins and Dale Kunkel [73]. Plaintiff has responded to Defendants' respective motions [79, 80], and Defendants have filed replies [82, 83]. Based on the parties' pleadings, depositions, affidavits, and other supporting documents filed with the Court, Defendants' respective motions for summary judgment are GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Thomas A. Gauthier, proceeding pro se and civilly committed at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Treatment and Detention Facility in Rushville, Illinois (“Rushville”) filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants Shan Jumper, Joseph Hankins, and Dale Kunkel violated his constitutional rights. On January 11, 2016, after a merit review of Plaintiff's amended complaint [18], the Court entered an order [9], finding that Plaintiff stated the following constitutional claims: (1) Defendants Jumper and Hankins violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights when they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition and applied black box restraints; and (2) Defendants Jumper and Hankins violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights when they used black box restraints and strip searches as punishment when he appeared before the Behavior Committee. The Court found that Plaintiff failed to clearly state a constitutional violation against Defendant Kunkel because Plaintiff appeared to have named Kunkel as a defendant purely because of his supervisor position, which is insufficient to establish liability under § 1983. On May 3, 2016, Plaintiff moved this Court for leave to file a second amended complaint that alleged Kunkel was directly involved in the constitutional violations. The Court granted Plaintiff's motion, finding that Plaintiff adequately stated both claims against Kunkel. On April 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss his claim concerning the strip searches [78], which the Court granted.

         II. MATERIAL FACTS

         The following facts are recounted in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. See Davis v. Carter, 452 F.3d 686, 688 (7th Cir. 2006). Plaintiff has been detained at Rushville since October 28, 2011. (Pl.'s Dep. 5:5-7, ECF No. 72-1.) Defendant Jumper is employed by Liberty Healthcare Corporation as Rushville's clinical director, and he is also a member of Rushville's Behavior Committee. (Jumper Aff. ¶¶ 1, 10, ECF No 72-2.) Jumper, however, is not a medical doctor and does not treat residents at Rushville for their medical needs. (Id. ¶ 19.) Defendant Hankins is Rushville's public service administrator, and he is also a member of Rushville's Behavior Committee. (Hankins Interrog. Resp. ¶ 1, ECF No. 74-2.). Defendant Kunkel has been Rushville's security director since approximately 2014. (Kunkel Interrog. Resp. ¶ 1, ECF No. 74-1; Pl.'s Dep. 54:15-55:20.)

         In 1996, Plaintiff was playing football with a group of friends. (Pl.'s Dep. 74:14-75:4.) When he went to tackle one of his friends, he missed and went through a glass window. (Id.) A piece of glass severed his right arm (requiring reconstructive surgery) and cut his left arm, causing nerve damage in both arms. (Id. at 10:6-12.) Between 1996 and 2000, Plaintiff attended physical therapy for his arm injuries, twice per week for the first two years, then once per week after that. (Id. at 73:22-74:7.) After Plaintiff was incarcerated in 2000, he continued to go through physical therapy at the prisons until approximately 2007. (Id. at 10:21-11:1, 12:12-22.) Ever since he was injured in 1996, Plaintiff has been in “[a] lot of pain.” (Id. at 10:17-20.)

         When Plaintiff first became a resident at Rushville in 2011, he told Dr. Lochard, who is not a defendant in this case, about his past arm injuries and the pain he was experiencing. (Id. at 13:17-14:12.) Since that time, he has seen Dr. Lochard approximately thirty times, and Dr. Lochard has prescribed Plaintiff various medications for his nerve pain. (Id. at 14:7-9, 15:13- 17.) No one else at Rushville has treated Plaintiff for any condition relating to his arms. (Id. at 16:17-20.) While at Rushville, Plaintiff has never been referred to a medical specialist for his arm complaints. (Id. at 71:8-11.)

         Rushville officials utilize a handcuff cover known as a “black box, ” which is a plastic box that runs between the handcuffs and covers the key holes to prevent a resident from tampering with the locks.[1] (Jumper Aff. ¶ 5.) An IDHS Facility Directive authorizes the use of a black box when (1) the resident has been admitted to Rushville during the past sixty days, (2) the resident has one or more major rule violations[2] within the past three months, or (3) the resident has any other security risk or concern[3] that warrants the use of the black box when the resident is transported outside the facility. (IDHS Facility Directive 2-3, ECF No. 72-3.) Members of the Behavior Committee are tasked with determining whether or not a major rule violation occurred and, if so, what privilege restrictions are warranted, if any. (Id.; Jumper Aff. ¶ 11.) The members of the Behavior Committee then forward their recommendations to the Security Director and the Risk Assessment Team who have control and final authority over the implementation of security measures. (IDHS Facility Directive 3; Jumper Aff. ¶ 13.)

         Between 2012 and 2015, the Behavior Committee cited Plaintiff for multiple major rule violations. (Pl.'s Dep. 33:17-20.) Plaintiff specifically remembers receiving major rule violations on March 16, 2012; October 1, 2012; June 4, 2013; October 22, 2013; December 23, 2013; January 3, 2014; and November 18, 2014. (Id. at 30:7-33:16.) The violations primarily involved threats and intimidation. (Id.) Every time Plaintiff appeared before the Behavior Committee, he pleaded with Defendants Jumper and Hankins not to recommend the use of the black box on him because it caused him pain as a result of the nerve damage in his arms. (Id. at 37:23-38:8; Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 5, Pl.'s Resp. Jumper Mot. Summ. J., Ex. C; Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 7, Pl.'s Resp. Hankins & Kunkel Mot. Summ. J., Ex. A.) Plaintiff told Defendant Kunkel about the nerve damage in his arms, but he never discussed it in relation to the black box and, in fact, never discussed the black box with Kunkel. (Pl.'s Dep. 57:2-12.) In response to Plaintiff's June 4, 2013, and November 18, 2014, major rule violations, the Behavior Committee recommended that the black box be used on Plaintiff. (Jumper Aff. ¶¶ 14-15.) Jumper states, “For medical reasons, the black box may not be required for a resident if there is a written order from the doctor at [Rushville].” (Id. ¶ 21.) Hankins states that “[i]f a resident has a medical exemption from [the b]lack [b]ox, the resident will not be placed in [a b]lack [b]ox regardless of a Behavior Committee recommendation.” (Hankins Interrog. Resp. ¶ 8.) Hankins further states that “[t]o the best of [his] knowledge, the Writ Coordinator will verify that a resident does not have a medical exemption from [the b]lack [b]ox . . . .” (Id. ¶ 9.)

         According to one of IDHS's “Notification of Resident Movement - Drop Slip” form filled out for Plaintiff, the black box was used on Plaintiff when he was transported on writs on August 11 and 12, 2014; September 24, 2014; and November 3 and 14, 2014. (Drop Slip, ECF No. 72-8.) Plaintiff states that every time he was transported on a writ in 2013, he was handcuffed with the black box. (Pl.'s Dep. 54:8-10.) Moreover, Plaintiff states that between 2011 and 2015, he has been “continually subject to the [b]lack [b]ox.” (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 9, Pl.'s Resp. Jumper Mot. Summ. J., Ex. C.)

         A Rushville doctor may grant a medical exception to a resident if there is a medical reason justifying why a black box should not be used on the resident. (IDHS Facility Directive 3.) During his time at Rushville, Plaintiff has asked Dr. Lochard “at least 20 times” to grant him a medical exception for the black box. (Pl.'s Dep. 69:20-70:1.) Dr. Lochard, however, refused to grant Plaintiff a medical exception. (Id. at 26:9-15.) Consequently, the black box was used on Plaintiff for four years, which eventually caused “permanent damage” in his right and left arms. (Id. at 18:6-20.) Although a doctor has not diagnosed Plaintiff with nerve damage above and beyond that caused by his original arm injuries, Plaintiff states, “I know there's permanent damage. I feel it. I drop things all the time like I never used to. And I told [Dr.] Lochard about it and he gave me braces to go on my hands so that I can hang on to things.” (Id.) Plaintiff told Dr. Lochard about the permanent damage in 2015, at which time Dr. Lochard finally granted Plaintiff a medical exception for the black box. (Id. at 18:24-19:9; Jumper Aff. ¶ 22.) The black box has not been used on Plaintiff since that time. (Pl.'s Dep. 26:16-27:5.)

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         “The court shall grant 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). A movant may demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute through specific cites to admissible evidence or by showing that the nonmovant “cannot produce admissible evidence to support the [material] fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). If the movant clears this hurdle, the nonmovant may not simply rest on his or her allegations in the complaint but instead must point to admissible evidence in the record to show that a genuine dispute exists. Id.; Harvey v. Town of Merrillville, 649 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2011). “In a § 1983 case, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on the constitutional ...


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