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McKinstry v. Colbert

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Urbana Division

June 12, 2018

JAMICQUIN McKINSTRY, Plaintiff,
v.
CHANCE COLBERT, et al., Defendants.

          SUMMARY JUDGMENT ORDER

          JAMES E. SHADID UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Jamicquin McKinstry, proceeding pro se, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that Defendants Chance Colbert and Jana Phelps failed to protect him from being attacked while Plaintiff was a detainee at the Jerome Combs Detention Center (“JCDC”). Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment [21], and Plaintiff has responded [25]. Based on the parties' pleadings, depositions, affidavits, and other supporting documents filed with the Court, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

         I. 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 dispute is ‘genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Zaya v. Sood, 836 F.3d 800, 804 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). “If the moving party has properly supported his motion, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Spierer v. Rossman, 798 F.3d 502, 507 (7th Cir. 2015).

         A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment, must cite to particular parts of the record or show that the materials cited by the movant do not establish the absence of a genuine dispute. Melton v. Tippeconoe County, 838 F.3d 814, 818 (7th Cir. 2016). All facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in his favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment; “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].” Id. at 252.

         II. MATERIAL FACTS

         The events at issue occurred on December 2, 2014, while Plaintiff was housed in E-Pod at JCDC, which consists of 28 double-bunked cells located on an upper and lower tier with a common area. E-Pod is also equipped with security cameras and a desk where correctional officers monitor activity. To minimize the number of detainees in the common area, only one tier level is permitted access. For example, when detainees who are housed in the upper tier have access to the common area, the detainees who are housed in the lower tier are confined to their cells. A detainee's tier location has no meaningful distinction. Defendant Correctional Officers Colbert and Phelps were assigned to E-Pod on December 2, 2014.

         A. The Parties' Testimonial Evidence

         Plaintiff, who was assigned to the upper tier, was in the common area talking to Rex Frank, a detainee locked in his lower tier cell. Frank asked Plaintiff to “smack” a third detainee, Gentry, who was located in the common area. (21-1: p. 31:8-17.) Gentry overheard his name and approached Plaintiff. A fourth detainee, Jon Giles, attempted to intervene. Plaintiff took a defensive stance as Gentry approached. Gentry stopped when Defendant Colbert, who was at the desk, ordered them to “knock it off.” (Id. at 35:16-17.)

         Defendant Colbert stated that he gave his order because he “overheard four detainees loudly arguing.” (21-2: p. 3:12.) Colbert did not observe “any of these detainees ‘square off, ' prepare to fight, or otherwise indicate violence towards one another.” (Id. at 3:13.) Afterward, Colbert did not observe any other disturbances prior to the physical altercation at issue. During this time, Defendant Phelps was on her scheduled break.

         Approximately five minutes after Defendant Colbert's order, Plaintiff spoke with Gentry, and they settled their differences amicably. At that moment, Plaintiff admitted that he had no reason to think another detainee wanted to fight him. Plaintiff returned to Frank's cell and heard banging coming from a lower tier cell door. Plaintiff observed a detainee, whom he did not recognize, yelling in his direction. Plaintiff later learned that detainee was Travien Moore.

         Plaintiff did not know or have any previous encounters with Moore. Moore called Plaintiff over to his cell and told Plaintiff, “I'm on your ass” and that he had asked Defendant Phelps for a toilet plunger. (21-1: p. 53:16, 20-22.) Plaintiff explained that detainees occasionally ask for a plunger to get a correctional officer to open the cell door so that the detainee can “attack another inmate.” (21-1: p. 72:10-12.) Plaintiff stated that he was confused and surprised that Moore “wanted to fight.” (Id. at 51:4-5.) Plaintiff walked away and ignored Moore. (Id. at 48:6-8, 16-17.)

         Plaintiff attempted unsuccessfully to enter his locked upper tier cell. Plaintiff yelled down to Defendant Colbert that a “guy down there is threatening me, I don't feel [safe].” (Id. at 57:13-17.) Plaintiff admitted that he did not tell Colbert who was threatening him, why he was being threatened, or the specifics of the threats uttered. (Id. at 85:18-20.) After Colbert refused to open the cell doors, Plaintiff returned to the lower deck and spoke with Frank. Plaintiff had just met Moore and Gentry that day and could not confirm whether Colbert knew that Moore and Gentry were “affiliated.” (Id. at 126:21-23; 127:1-8.) Colbert was not aware of any association among Moore and the detainees Plaintiff had been arguing with earlier and had no reason to believe that Plaintiff would be physically attacked by any detainee in E-Pod. (21-2: p. 6:34.)

         According to Plaintiff, when he returned to Frank's cell, Moore began “yelling and shaking the door” to his cell multiple times and causing “a big scene, ” which caught the attention of every detainee in the common area. (21-1: p. 61:9-16.) Plaintiff observed that during this time, Defendant ...


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