United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
REPORT & RECOMMENDATION
GILBERT C. SISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lester Smith filed suit alleging various violations of state
and federal law against Defendants arising out of an assault
he endured while detained at the St. Clair County Jail
awaiting trial. Before the Court is a motion for summary
judgment on the merits of Smith's claims. The matter has
been referred to the undersigned by District Judge J. Phil
Gilbert pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 72(b) and Local Rule 72.1(a)(2). For the
reasons delineated below, it is RECOMMENDED
that the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
Findings of Fact
January 4, 2018, Smith sought leave to file an amended
complaint related to an assault in February 2016 in the St.
Clair County Jail. The Court identified that the amended
complaint adequately pleaded the following claims:
Count 1: Defendant Sims and Strubberg failed
to protect Plaintiff from a violent attack by other inmates
in violation of the [Fourteenth] Amendment.
Count 2: Sims and Strubberg conspired to
deprive Plaintiff of his Fourteenth Amendment due process
rights by failing to protect him from a violent attack by
Count 5: Defendant Sims and Strubberg
intentionally inflicted emotional distress in relation to the
violent attack on July 25, 2016.
Count 6: Respondeat superior claim
as to the intentional infliction of emotional distress state
law claim in Count 5 against the St. Clair County Sheriff in
his official capacity.
Count 7: An indemnification claim against
St. Clair County related to the state law claim in Count 5.
(Doc. 28, 29).
in February 2016, Smith was a pretrial detainee in the St.
Clair County Jail. He was first housed in Annex B Block, but
on March 17, 2016, he had to be moved to a new cell after
several of his fellow inmates passed notes complaining about
Smith stealing from and threatening people. The inmates
warned that Smith's disruptive behavior was going to
cause a fight. (Doc. 57-3). Smith was reassigned to H Block,
but he had to be moved to G Block because H Block was being
painted. He was moved to the infirmary due to a broken finger
on May 4, 2016.
14, 2016, Smith was reassigned to J Block, but he reported
that he feared for his safety. He provided jail officials
with the names of three individuals he feared, and he was
moved to the recovery cell until he could be reassigned. The
responding officer placed a “keep-separate” order
on the three individuals to ensure that Smith would not be
housed with them again. (Docs. 57-6, 57-7). Smith then was
reassigned to G Block.
22, 2016, Smith reported that he feared for his safety from
another detainee in G Block. The responding officer rehoused
Smith in the recovery cell and placed a keep-separate order
on the individual Smith identified. Another detainee, Alan
Davis, testified that Smith left G Block because he was
trying to be housed with his brother who had been arrested.
(Doc. 57-9, p. 17-18).
was still in the recovery cell on July 25, 2016, when he
alleges that he saw Defendant Michael Sims, a corrections
officer with the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department,
walk near his cell. Smith testified that he asked Sims if he
was being moved to a new cell, and that Sims told him,
“hold on, I'll be back.” (Doc. 57-4, p.
38-40). Smith interpreted Sims's comment to mean he was
going to check about the reassignment. Defendant Steven
Strubberg, a sergeant assigned to the Classification,
Discipline and Intelligence Sections, does not recall
speaking with Sims about Smith on July 25, 2016, but Smith
testified that Sims checked with Strubberg to determine the
appropriate placement for Smith.
returned approximately ten minutes later, after allegedly
speaking with Strubberg and checking the keep-separate
orders, and told Smith to pack up his stuff. Sims opened the
cell door and began to walk Smith away from the recovery
cell. Smith testified that he then asked where he was going,
and Sims told him he was reassigned to B Block. (Doc. 57-4,
p. 40-41). Smith allegedly told Sims that he could not go to
B Block because he knew there were other inmates in B Block
with whom he had issues.
knew who was in B Block because the block was in the middle
of a shakedown around the time of his interactions with Sims,
and the B Block inmates were temporarily held in the
barbershop. Smith could see the barbershop from the recovery
cell. According to Smith, he warned Sims that he feared for
his life and that he faced a life-or-death situation if he
went to B Block. (Doc. 57-4, p. 42-50). Smith alleges that
Sims walked away a second time to check with Defendant
Strubberg for “keep separate” orders for inmates
in B Block. (Doc. 57-4, p. 53). At no point during the
interaction did Smith identify a specific individual or group
of inmates by name or description who posed a danger to him,
but he did indicate that he feared for his life.
and Strubberg walked out of booking together and towards
Sims, who was still in the recovery cell with his belongings.
(Doc. 57-4, p. 56). Sims then walked Smith to B Block and
opened the door, with Smith repeatedly telling Sims he could
not go into the block. Smith testified that Sims told him
that he did not get to choose where he goes. (Doc. 57-4, p.
50, 56-58). Smith was assigned to B Block at 1:31 p.m.
p.m., Officer Ripperda called Sergeant Nichols about injuries
Smith sustained in B Block. According to Smith, he was
cleaning an empty cell and putting his belongings away, when
someone grabbed him from behind, and he was attacked. (Doc.
57-4, p. 61). He does not know who attacked him. Defendant
Sims does not remember any interactions with Smith but
testified via affidavit that where a detainee cannot or will
not identify a person by name, identifying information, face
or specific threat, he houses a detainee in the assigned cell
block. (Doc. 57-12).
asked about his emotional distress at his deposition, Smith
acknowledged that part of the reason he asked to see a
psychiatrist on August 29, 2016, was because he was having
trouble sleeping. Smith was also worried about his case and
family and had concerns about being jumped. (Doc. 57-4, p.
75-76). Smith did not indicate that his ...