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Johnson v. Schuyler County

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

July 2, 2019

TERRY C. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
SCHUYLER COUNTY, et al. Defendants.



         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and presently civilly committed at Rushville Treatment and Detention Center, brought the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Fourteenth Amendment claims for excessive force, retaliation, and inhumane conditions of confinement. The matter comes before this Court for ruling on the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 65). The motion is granted.


         Summary judgment should be granted “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). 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). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to be a “genuine” issue, there must be more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “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 v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).


         At all times relevant, Plaintiff was civilly detained at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center (“Rushville” or “TDF”). Defendants were employed at the facility as security personnel.

         On November 12, 2014, Defendant Clayton read Plaintiff his Miranda rights in the presence of Defendants Mayes, Rose, and Wear before attempting to interview Plaintiff about a staff assault. UMF 2-3. Defendant Winters was not in the room. UMF 9. Defendant Clayton told Defendants Mayes, Rose, and Wear to take Plaintiff “out of here” after Plaintiff remained silent. UMF 4. Defendant Mayes left the room first. Defendants Rose and Wear flanked Plaintiff on each side before the three “squeezed” through the door at the same time. UMF 5. Once through the door, Plaintiff “felt Clayton kick [him] twice, ” first in the left foot, then Plaintiff's right leg. Pl. Dep. I 37:19-21.[2] Plaintiff later clarified that Defendant Clayton struck Plaintiff's left ankle, then his right calf. Id. 43:6-20; 51:10-11. Plaintiff does not know if Defendant Clayton “used one kick or two kicks, because…[Clayton] was behind [Plaintiff].” Id. 38:11-12. At his second deposition, Plaintiff testified that “it was three kicks. Because the first kick was the kick in the leg and then [Clayton] tried to trip me with a sweeping motion…so how about three contacts.” Pl.'s Dep. II 45:8-11. Plaintiff immediately yelled that Defendant Clayton had assaulted him. UMF 11. Plaintiff suffered no physical injuries. UMF 12-13.

         Later that day, Defendants Rose and Wear drove Plaintiff to the Schuyler County Jail and transferred custody of Plaintiff to county officials. UMF 14. The jail is located 1.4 miles from the TDF and the drive between these two locations typically takes three-to-four (3-4) minutes. UMF 15. During transport, Plaintiff wore a jumpsuit without a coat or underwear. Per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the recorded high and low temperatures on November 12, 2014 in Rushville, Illinois was 37 degrees Fahrenheit and 28 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. UMF 16.


         As a civil detainee at the time the relevant events took place, Plaintiff's rights arise under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Hughes v. Farris, 809 F.3d 330, 334 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Excessive Force & Failure to Intervene

         Under the Fourteenth Amendment, a detainee “must show only that the force purposefully or knowingly used against him was objectively unreasonable.” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015). This inquiry turns on the facts and circumstances of each case and must be made “from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, including what the officer knew at the time, not with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” Id.

         Factors a court may consider include, but are not limited to: “the relationship between the need for the use of force and the amount of force used; the extent of the plaintiff's injury; any effort made by the officer to temper or to limit the amount of force; the severity of the security problem at issue; the threat reasonably perceived by the officer; and whether the plaintiff was actively resisting.” Id. An official who fails to intervene to try to prevent a known, unconstitutional use of force, despite a reasonable opportunity to do so, may be held liable under § 1983. See Wilborn v. Ealey, 881 F.3d 998, 1007 (7th Cir. 2018).

         The force applied must rise to a level that warrants constitutional scrutiny: “[n]ot every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers, violates the [Constitution].” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989) (applying an objective reasonableness test to a pre-arraignment detainee's claims of excessive force); see also Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 539 n. 21 ...

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