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Bartlett v. County of McLean

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

July 18, 2018

COUNTY of McLEAN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, Benjamin J. Bartlett, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Following merit review, the Court concluded that Plaintiff had stated a constitutional claim against Defendant Jamey Kessinger, the superintendent of the McLean County Detention Facility (“jail”), for failure to protect Plaintiff from a substantial risk of serious harm [6]. The Court also substituted Defendant McLean County for the jail as a possible indemnifier. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment [29] to which Plaintiff has responded [31], and Defendants have replied [32]. Based on the parties' pleadings, depositions, affidavits, and other supporting documents filed with the Court, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.


         On August 19, 2015, police officers assigned to the Bloomington Task Force (“police”) arrested and interviewed Plaintiff. During that interview, Plaintiff provided information on Darcell Van, whom Plaintiff stated was an associate. The police then transported Plaintiff to the jail, where Plaintiff told an intake officer that he was an informant for the police and that he had enemies in custody, but Plaintiff could not provide their names. (ECF 29-1: p. 6; 29-3: pp. 69:14-19, 70:1-6.) Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation under the classification “protective custody.” (29: p. 4:16; 29-1: pp. 7, 14; 29-3: p. 46:19-22.)

         On August 28, 2015, two unidentified correctional officers transferred Plaintiff from segregation to G block because Plaintiff's cell door in segregation was malfunctioning. (29-1: p. 7; 29-3: p. 81:20-22.) G block is a medium security area consisting of two sets of three cells located across from each other and separated by a common area. Plaintiff estimated that beginning on September 1, 2015, he addressed “two or three” request forms to the shift sergeant, asking to be returned to segregation. (29-3: pp. 35:16-20; 46:11-14.)

         In one of Plaintiff's requests, he explained that he did not “get along” with a detainee Plaintiff identified by cell number, and he wanted to be moved “before certain situations get out of hand….” (Id. pp. 36:1-4; 37:21-25; 40:17-23). Plaintiff stated that he did not receive any written responses to his request, but he spoke to a correctional Sergeant who told him that the jail did not have any bed space due to overcrowding, and “they would … move [Plaintiff] when … they fix [the cell] gate.” (Id. p. 36:12-25.)

         Sometime during Plaintiff's stay in G block, the detainee Plaintiff identified by cell number, whom Plaintiff later learned was named Terry Jenkins, told Plaintiff that Van was “family.” (Id. p. 23:5-10.) Plaintiff interpreted Jenkins' comment as an indication that Jenkins was either related to Van or that they were close friends. Plaintiff speculated that Jenkins may have learned that he had provided information to the police about Van from paperwork he left unattended in his cell. (Id. pp. 25:21-25; 26:1-5.)

         On September 10, 2015, Jenkins entered Plaintiff's unlocked cell and began a conversation that turned physical. Plaintiff fractured his finger during that altercation. G block was immediately locked down and remained in that status when Plaintiff was transferred from G block the next day.

         Plaintiff admitted that upon his entry into the jail on August 19, 2015, he did not know Jenkins and thus, did not identify Jenkins as a possible enemy to the jail's intake officer. Plaintiff acknowledged that upon his transfer to G block on August 28, 2015, he was unaware of any connection between Jenkins and Van.

         Plaintiff agreed that he did not have any interaction with Defendant Kessinger from August 19, 2015, when he entered the jail, to September 10, 2015, when the altercation at issue occurred. (Id. pp. 80:19-22; 82:19-25; 83:1-2; 86:19-25; 87:1.) Plaintiff also acknowledged that he could not produce evidence showing Kessinger's personal involvement when he was transferred to G block on August 28, 2015. (Id. pp. 83:3-6, 15-19, 24-25; 84:1-3; 85:3-6.) Plaintiff stated that he sued Kessinger because he “overseas everything that goes on in the jail….” (Id. p. 83:15-21.)

         Defendant Kessinger stated that as the jail's superintendent, he is not involved in the jail's booking process, and he did not participate in transferring Plaintiff from segregation to G block on August 28, 2015. Kessinger noted that the only issue he could recall involving Plaintiff occurred over two months after Plaintiff's altercation with Jenkins when Kessinger responded to Plaintiff's November 2015 grievance in which Plaintiff asked for copies of the transfer requests he submitted while he was housed in G block. (29-1: p. 14; 29-2: p. 4:24.)


         “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 ...

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