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Kellerr v. J.S. Walto

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 8, 2019

J.S. WALTON, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Charles Derrick Keller wants to choose which federal prison he is incarcerated in. He also does not want a cellmate. So when the defendants-officials working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)-assigned Keller a cellmate and later transferred him to a different institution, Keller sued them. Keller suffers from serious mental health issues-nobody here disputes that-and he argues that the defendants' conduct was deliberately indifferent to those medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. While the Court found that Keller sufficiently stated such a medical claim at the motion to dismiss stage, his case does not survive the defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 157, 167.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Keller received a 180-month sentence in 2007 for illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. He began his incarceration at a few different prisons, but in 2009, the BOP transferred him to USP Marion in southern Illinois for a few reasons-including its security level and because his family lived in the area. The BOP later transferred Keller to FCC Coleman in 2014, followed by subsequent transfers to FCI Gilmer and FCI Memphis. All the while, the BOP provided extensive treatment for Keller's ADHD, bipolar disorder, and potentially borderline personality disorder-including hundreds of clinical encounters and nine different psychotropic medications.

         Keller does not complain about any of that treatment. Instead, he says that for several years at USP Marion, the BOP provided him with another form of treatment: at times, he got an entire cell to himself instead of having a cellmate. Keller alleges that this was a form of treatment because a BOP Program Statement says that “[d]ue to their potential vulnerability in a correction setting, inmates with mental illness may require special accommodation in areas such as housing . . . .” (ECF No. 166-3, p. 13.) So when BOP officials later transferred Keller to FCC Coleman in 2014-where he then had a cellmate-he sued, arguing that the revocation of his single-cell treatment constituted deliberate indifference to his medical needs.

         The uncontroverted record, however, does not support Keller's allegations. When Keller first arrived at USP Marion in 2009, Dr. Patterson held an intervention session with him because Keller complained that his new cell mate “is known homosexual who ‘has a crush on me.'” (ECF No. 166-6.) Dr. Patterson then recorded: “Given Keller's history and anticipated difficulty of finding a cellmate that can tolerate Keller's level of energy and anxiety, it was recommended he be assigned a single cell.” (Id.) Dr. Patterson has made clear, however, that single-cell status is not a “treatment.” (Patterson Dep. 69:19-70:7, ECF No. 157-2.)

         Things are then relatively quiet for two years, but later, BOP records state that:

KELLER reported receiving an incident report for receiving money and was concerned about being moved from his current unit. We discussed the importance of following rules and consequences. KELLER was reminded of his history of responding to the power of positive thinking and encouraged focus on this at this time. He agreed to make the effort. Keller denied any current thoughts of self-harm. There was no indication of hallucinations or delusions. Speech was rambling, thoughts tangential, but could be brought back on task easily. Psychomotor agitation was evident, legs shaking, fidgeting in seat. Follow-up will occur to assess response to medication increase. In addition, his housing assignment will be discussed with the unit team.

(ECF No. 166-7.)

         The issue blows up a few months later. Keller gets in trouble for possessing a weapon and other contraband, assault, running a gambling pool, and coercing other inmates to allow him to use their phone accounts in violation of his phone restrictions. ” (ECF No. 166-10.) BOP records then note that Keller “lost his preferred housing status, but he has refused to move and was recently placed in the Special Housing Unit. Keller has tried to manipulate staff in believing he can only function in a single cell. As a result, this has created an atmosphere of animosity and has made it difficult to appropriately manage the preferred housing units.” (Id.) The same record later states that Keller's “continued inability to follow the rules and regulations of the institution has significantly contributed to staff's ability to maintain the secure and orderly running of the institution.” (Id.)

         When Keller gets out of the SHU and back into the general population, he gets a cellmate. But the BOP records note that this led to several outbursts by Keller, so they gave him a single cell again. Then about a month later, when an incident report was not resolved to Keller's liking, he “isolate[ed] himself in his cell, using a sheet to block the view and avoiding all staff and most inmates . . . .”

         The BOP later puts Keller in the SHU again because he told staff during pill line: “I am going to fuck all of you up.” That led to the following email by Dr. Patterson:

Hey, you offered, so I'm asking. Marion has two inmates that we really need to transfer. I just not sure, where and how…
KELLER, Charles 06822-025 This one is more challenging due to criminal behavior patterns. He is a high security inmate (small stature looks younger than his age) who we have had at Marion since 2009. He has burned his bridge here and is being put in for transfer to a USP. Between 2007 and 2009 he was at three different USP's, one that resulted in a serious assault on him. He has a history of being diagnosed with a bipolar mood disorder-manic, and substance abuse. In addition to the assault mentioned, he was caught up at a riot at a State facility. Keller claims he is ADHD, I think that is a more accurate dx. There are also several behaviors consistent with PTSD. He was transferred to us from Coleman with an off formulary amphetamine medication. He was placed on that after three years of being out of control and going through every other medication. When he arrived, our medical staff discontinued the medication and, OMG, he definitely functions better on it. It took a minute, but we got him back on. When he is not on medication, our conversations are tangential and he can't sit still, touching and fiddling with everything on my desk. When on meds, he can focus on one topic during a session. However, even when on the medication, he is: fidgety with poor boundaries, when even mildly challenged he talks excessively, blurts out inappropriately and cannot wait his turn. He has insight to this, knows he is obnoxious so he isolates himself to avoid problems with others. The reason, and only reason he has done well here, is we have single cell housing. He puts up his curtain and stays in his cell as much as possible. He only comes to mainline ...

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