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Randle v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 16, 2018

CHARLES RANDLE, #M27372, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMBERLY BUTLER, JOHN BALDWIN, C/O BUMP, C/O WARD, JOHN DOE, DOCTOR TROST, GAIL WALLS, SYLVIA BUTLER, WEATHERFORD, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., and PAPIS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Now before the Court is Plaintiff Charles Randle's Motion to Reconsider Order Referring Case. (Doc. 22). Plaintiff seeks reinstatement of Count 5, a Fourteenth Amendment claim for the deprivation of a protected liberty interest without due process of law against five officials at Menard. (Doc. 6, pp. 15-19; Doc. 13, p. 11). This claim was dismissed without prejudice at screening because the allegations in the First Amended Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against the defendants. (Doc. 13, pp. 20-22, 26). Plaintiff asks the Court to reinstate Count 5 based on additional allegations he presents in his Motion. (Doc. 13). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Reconsider is denied.

         Background

         Plaintiff filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). In his First Amended Complaint, he brought six claims against fifteen officials who allegedly violated his rights at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) in 2015-16. (Doc. 6). Four claims (i.e., Counts 1, 2, 4, and 6) survived preliminary review, and two claims (i.e., Counts 3 and 5) did not. (Doc. 13). Plaintiff seeks reinstatement of Count 5, which is a Fourteenth Amendment claim for deprivation of a protected liberty interest without due process of law against C/O Mezzo, C/O John Doe, C/O Vasquez, C/O Brookman, and Warden Butler (Count 5).

         In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was issued a false disciplinary ticket for theft and possession of contraband on October 27, 2015. (Doc. 6, pp. 15-19). On that date, an officer searched Plaintiff and found two bottles of liquid tied to his waist. (Doc. 6, p. 15). He received a ticket for possessing what “appeared to be” bottles filled with bleach and dishwasher soap, even though the officer did not open the bottles, smell them, or test the contents. Id. Plaintiff attended an adjustment committee hearing before Officers Vasquez and Brookman around November 4, 2015. (Doc. 6, pp. 15-16). He was found guilty of both rule violations based on the officer's statement. (Doc. 6, p. 16). He received one month of segregation, a one month demotion to C grade, and a one month commissary restriction. (Doc. 6, p. 16; Doc. 6-1, p. 4).

         C/O Mezzo and C/O John Doe placed Plaintiff in segregation with a cellmate who had recently been quarantined for chicken pox. (Doc. 6, pp. 18-19). The officers disregarded the rules for double-celling contagious and non-contagious inmates. (Doc. 6, p. 19). In addition, the cell was filthy, and Plaintiff was given no cleaning supplies. Id.

         The Court screened Count 5 and found no protected liberty interest and no due process violation. (Doc. 13, pp. 20-22, 26). The Court explained that due process protections are not triggered in the first place, unless a protected liberty interest is at stake. A protected liberty interest may arise when confinement in segregation “impose[s] an ‘atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.'” Hardaway v. Meyerhoff, 734 F.3d 740, 743 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995)). Courts consider two factors when analyzing this issue: “the combined import of the duration of segregative confinement and the conditions endured.” Hardaway, 734 F.3d at 743 (citing Marion v. Columbia Corr. Inst., 559 F.3d 693, 697-98 (7th Cir. 2009) (emphasis in original)). Plaintiff was in segregation for only one month and did not describe conditions that were atypical or unusually harsh. Given this, the Court found that no protected liberty interest was at stake. Therefore, Plaintiff had no right to due process of law, and the First Amended Complaint pointed to no due process violation. On this basis, Count 5 was dismissed without prejudice.

         Motion to Reconsider

         In the Motion to Reconsider, Plaintiff asks the Court to reinstate Count 5 based on additional factual allegations he sets forth against the defendants and others. Plaintiff claims that his due process rights were violated by Officer Kern on the date he issued Plaintiff a false disciplinary ticket. (Doc. 22, p. 2). Plaintiff informed the officer that the bottles contained spring water, which he purchased from Menard's commissary. Id. Officer Kern told Plaintiff that it was his “unlucky day” and issued him a ticket for theft. Id. Plaintiff later learned that the officer also cited him for possession of contraband. Id. The Adjustment Committee, including Officers Brookman and Vasquez, relied on Officer Kern's statement, and no other evidence, when finding Plaintiff guilty of theft and possession of contraband. (Doc. 22, pp. 3-4).

         Plaintiff offers additional details about the conditions in segregation. C/O Mezzo and C/O Doe (whom he now identifies as C/O Dunbar) escorted him to a cell with a foul odor on November 4, 2015. (Doc. 22, p. 5). Human feces and toilet tissue were caked around the rim of the toilet. Id. The entire cell was dirty, and Plaintiff was denied access to cleaning supplies. Id. His request for a different cell was denied, even after Plaintiff stated that he suffered from a mental illness. Id. He endured these conditions for five days before being moved to another cell. Id.

         Around November 9, 2015, C/O Mezzo and C/O Dunbar moved Plaintiff into a cell with a mentally ill cellmate who was suffering from chicken pox. (Doc. 22, p. 8). He still had sores all over his body “that looked like scabies, ” and he smelled of “rotting flesh.” Id. The cellmate informed Plaintiff that his condition was contagious. Id. Exposure to this inmate caused Plaintiff to become delusional and paranoid, although he never contracted chicken pox or any other skin condition. Id. Plaintiff's cellmate was released from segregation on November 12, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 9). When Plaintiff asked to speak with a mental health professional about his deteriorating mental health, C/O Dunbar threatened to spray him with pepper spray. Id.

         Plaintiff was transferred into a cell with a different inmate for the remainder of the 30-day punishment period. (Doc. 22, p. 9). Although this inmate had a history of fighting, he was “cool with” Plaintiff. Id. The two inmates lived together without incident. Id. Based on these additional facts, Plaintiff seeks reinstatement of Count 5. (Doc. 22).

         Discussion

         A motion challenging the merits of a district court order will automatically be considered as having been filed pursuant to either Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See, e.g., Mares v. Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 ...


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