United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Dent is an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) who resided at Big Muddy Correctional
Center (“Big Muddy”) at the times relevant to
this case (Doc. 126). Dent alleges that shortly after he
arrived at Big Muddy in July 2012, he was approached by
Defendant Nick Nally, a Correctional Officer in the Internal
Affairs Department (“IAD”) (Id. at p.
4). Nally asked Dent whether he would be interested in
working as a confidential informant for the Big Muddy IAD,
and Dent agreed (Id.). Dent was also assigned to
work in the law library as a clerk (Id. at p. 5).
Dent alleges that on several occasions, Nally instructed him
to discourage other inmates from filing grievances and
lawsuits against Big Muddy personnel (Id.). Dent
also learned that Nally and other IAD personnel were allowing
drugs to come in to the facility through commissary,
assaulting inmates, framing inmates, and punishing and
retaliating against inmates for assisting other inmates with
filing grievances (Id.).
March 2, 2016, Dent informed his supervisor at the law
library that he was a confidential informant and wanted to
report a pattern of corruption within Big Muddy’s IAD
(Id.). The supervisor relayed the conversation to
Defendant Jason Garnett, the Warden of Big Muddy, by filing
an incident report (Id. at p. 6). The report reads:
I immediately observed that [Dent] was NOT kidding around. I
have been surprised that, since Lt. Schuler retired (I.A.
Supervisor), the facility has appeared to be run by thugs in
I.A. who are unscrupulous. . . I.A. Staff are breaking the
law and breaking the rules, covering for themselves, for
other security staff, and for some inmates even. I’m
the only one who knows it all, and if I tell, they will know
that it’s me who told on them.
forwarded the incident report to Nally, and the two entered
into a conspiracy to retaliate against Dent for attempting to
expose IAD’s corrupt practices (Id.). Later
that month, Nally leaked confidential information Dent shared
with IAD, which exposed Dent as an informant (Id. at
filed a grievance on March 22, 2016, complaining that Nally
revealed the confidential information to another inmate
(Id.). Dent submitted the grievance to the grievance
office at Big Muddy, but the counselor sent the grievance
directly to Nally instead of properly processing Dent’s
complaints (Id. at p. 11). Dent also sent a copy of
the grievance directly to the Administrative Review Board
(“ARB”) (Id.). On March 29, 2016, Dent
filed an emergency grievance, expressing fear that Nally
would retaliate against him for filing the March 22 grievance
and for signing a declaration in support of another
inmate’s lawsuit (Id.). The ARB returned
Dent’s grievances for failing to attach the
facility’s responses (Id.). Dent states that
between March 22, 2016 and May 6, 2016, he submitted over
fifteen grievances related to the conspiracy of retaliation,
and did not receive a single response (Id. at p.
April 2016, Nally questioned another inmate about whether
Dent was improperly controlling which inmates used the law
library (Id.). Defendant Denise Minor, a lieutenant
at Big Muddy, requested all of the library files and request
slips as part of the inquiry (Id.). Nally and
Minor’s suspicions were ultimately unsubstantiated
alleges that Nally and Minor directed Defendant Winnie
Braddock, who was employed in Big Muddy’s mailroom, to
forward them Dent’s outgoing legal mail instead of
sending the mail to the proper parties (Id. at p.
13). This permitted Nally and Minor to inspect Dent’s
privileged correspondences (Id.).
further alleges that Minor improperly placed him in
segregation under the guise of an investigation pursuant to
the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (“PREA”),
42 U.S.C. § 15601, et seq. (Id. at p.
14). According to Dent, Minor just wanted an opportunity to
question him about his grievances and his intentions in
pursuing the complaints (Id.). Minor became upset
and told Dent his grievances would not be processed or logged
states that after he was released from segregation, Minor
purposely placed him in a cell with a violent inmate
(Id. at p. 15). Dent is openly gay and his new
cellmate “hated homosexuals” (Id.).
Dent’s cellmate threatened and humiliated him over the
course of the following three weeks (Id.).
April 22, 2016, Dent filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging Defendants violated his First Amendment
rights and other federal laws by retaliating against him for
pursuing complaints against personnel at Big Muddy (Doc. 1).
February 22, 2018, Dent filed an amended complaint, adding
allegations against Defendants Ty Wallace and Barry Lasater
(Doc. 126). According to the amended complaint, on April 27,
2016, Dent received mental health services from Wallace, a
mental health professional at Big Muddy (Id. at p.
16). Dent told Wallace about this lawsuit, and Dent forwarded
a summary of the communications to Minor in an incident
report (Id.). At Minor’s direction, Wallace
recommended Dent be removed from his position with the law
library (Id.). Dent was eventually fired
further alleges that on May 6, 2016, he was in the law
library retrieving a folder of legal papers, when Lasater, a
correctional officer at Big Muddy, stopped and questioned him
about the papers (Id. at p. 17). Lasater, who was
acting on orders from Minor, seized the folder and wrote Dent
a disciplinary ticket (Id.). Lasater told Dent,