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English v. Williams

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

July 11, 2018

TARRY WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants.


          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Mario English sued numerous correctional officers under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly using excessive force against him, subjecting him to an unconstitutional strip search, and exhibiting deliberate indifference to his serious medical condition. Defendants Tarry Williams and Samuel Johnson moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim. For the reasons explained below, this Court grants Defendants' motion.

         I. Background

         The facts come from Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts [131] and Plaintiff's statement of additional facts [138].

         On November 2, 2014, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center. [138] ¶ 2. Stateville had Plaintiff under suicide watch-which Defendants call “crisis watch”-meaning that guards checked on Plaintiff in his cell every ten minutes and recorded their observations in a log. [131] ¶ 9; see generally [130-6]. Around 11:00 a.m. that morning, a guard doing a scheduled check on Plaintiff saw him wearing a string made from a bedsheet around his neck. [131] ¶¶ 11-12. Ten minutes later, the same guard again observed Plaintiff with a string around his neck. [130-6] at 4. Shortly after, multiple guards came to Plaintiff's cell to remove the string; Plaintiff attempted to use the string to end his life before guards took it away from him. [131] ¶¶ 13-15.

         According to Plaintiff, the guards then assaulted him. [138] ¶ 2. Plaintiff testified that the guards punched and kicked him at least 20 times (including strikes to his head) and pulled his hair out. Id. ¶ 7. Despite the fact that Plaintiff had already submitted to a strip search before the guards started beating him, [131] ¶¶ 17-18, they forced him into the fetal position on the ground, grabbed his right butt cheek, and pulled it aside to examine his anus, [138] ¶ 7.

         Plaintiff maintains that Johnson stood outside his cell before and during the attack and had a clear view of the attack, but did nothing to stop the other guards from hurting Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 3-6. Johnson disputes Plaintiff's testimony and says that he did not arrive at Plaintiff's cell until 12:40 p.m., when he took over the regular checks for crisis watch. [131] ¶¶ 34-35. Under Plaintiff's version of events, Johnson and the other guards stood within earshot of Plaintiff's cell after the attack and ignored Plaintiff's cries for help. [138] ¶ 8. Plaintiff says that, while the guards remained outside his cell, he stomped on his bed to make noise and alert anyone who could possibly help him. [130-2] at 31 (“I was basically calling for help, like, anybody besides them. If anybody could hear me.”).

         Neither side explains who brought Plaintiff to get medical attention, but Plaintiff saw a nurse by 12:15 p.m. the same day-about an hour after the assault. See [131] ¶ 33; [138] ¶ 10. Plaintiff told the nurse that his body hurt “all over.” [138] ¶ 10. The nurse noted some “mild erythema, ” or redness, on Plaintiff's leg, but documented that Plaintiff had no other visible injuries. [130-3] at 2.

         The parties agree that Williams, Stateville's then-warden, neither participated in nor witnessed the attack. [131] ¶ 40. Plaintiff says that he later wrote to Williams about the assault and “requested an investigation.”[1] [138] ¶ 12. Plaintiff received a “non-substantive, form letter response” in early December. Id. ¶ 14. According to Williams, his designee “jal” responded to Plaintiff's letter. [131] ¶ 43. Williams does not remember receiving a letter from Plaintiff or responding to Plaintiff, and Williams says that he did not sign the form letter. Id. ¶¶ 42, 44. An investigator from Stateville's Internal Affairs Unit testified, however, that Williams would have gotten notice of Plaintiff's alleged assault by staff members through a written “reportable” that traveled up the chain of command. [138] ¶¶ 15-17; see also [138-4] at 14-16.

         II. Legal Standard

         Courts should grant summary judgment when the moving party shows that no genuine dispute exists as to any material fact and the evidence weighs so heavily in the moving party's favor that the moving party “must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. A genuine dispute as to a material fact exists when, based upon the evidence, a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. To show a genuine dispute as to a material fact, the non-moving party must point to “particular materials in the record, ” and cannot rely upon the pleadings or speculation. Olendzki v. Rossi, 765 F.3d 742, 746 (7th Cir. 2014).

         At summary judgment, courts must evaluate evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and refrain from making credibility determinations or weighing evidence. Rasho v. Elyea, 856 F.3d 469, 477 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). The moving party bears the burden of establishing the lack of genuine disputes as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         III. Analysis

         A. Objectively Serious ...

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