United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL Chief U.S. District Judge
Charles Dent, an inmate in the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Defendants, in concert with
each other, engaged in a course of retaliatory conduct
against him for exercising his First Amendment right to file
grievances and lawsuits against them. Before the Court are
two motions for summary judgment: one filed by Defendants
Nick Nalley, Denise Minor, Winnie Braddock, and Barry Lasater
(Doc. 182) and one filed by Defendant Ty Wallace (Doc. 186).
For the reasons explained below, the Court denies Defendant
Wallace’s motion, and the motion filed by Defendants
Nalley, Minor, Braddock, Lasater, and Garnett is granted in
part and denied in part.
times relevant to this action, Dent was incarcerated at Big
Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big Muddy”). On
February 28, 2018, Dent, through appointed counsel, filed an
amended complaint raising the following claims:
Count 1: First Amendment retaliation against
Defendant Nick Nalley and Jason Garnett for exposing Dent as
a confidential informant.
Count 2: First Amendment retaliation against
Defendants Denise Minor, Nick Nalley, and Winnie Braddock for
improperly refusing to send Dent’s privileged mail.
Count 3: First Amendment retaliation against
Defendant Denise Minor for improperly conducting a Prison
Rape Elimination Act (PREA) investigation with a retaliatory
Count 4: First Amendment retaliation against
Defendant Denise Minor for placing Dent with a violent,
Count 5: First Amendment retaliation against
Defendants Denise Minor and Ty Wallace for illegally
disclosing confidential information about Dent with the
intent to have him first from his job in the law library.
Count 6: First Amendment retaliation against
Defendants Denise Minor and Barry Lasater for improperly
taking Dent’s legal papers.
Count 7: Violation of the Illinois Mental
Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act
against Defendant Ty Wallace.
Counts 1, 3, and 4
point before Dent transferred to Big Muddy in July 2012, he
was incarcerated at Centralia Correctional Center, which is
where he met Defendant Nick Nalley. According to Dent, Nalley
was a correctional officer at Centralia, and the two men had
a good, cordial relationship. (Doc. 182-1, p. 5-6). Nalley
worked in Internal Affairs at Big Muddy. He remembered that
Dent worked in the law library at Centralia and referred him
to Jennifer Wilson, who was a supervisor in the library, for
a job. (Doc. 187-7, p. 6). Jennifer Wilson testified that the
recommendation from Nalley was out of the ordinary. (Doc.
192-3, p. 2). She suspected that Dent was assigned to the
library to keep an eye on the school building. (Doc. 192-3,
began working in the law library on or about February 26,
2016, and, on February 28, 2016, he was moved from his cell
in one-house to a cell in three-house. He believes he was
moved away from another inmate, Shane Marcentel, and that the
move was retaliatory because he tried to provide information
about Marcentel to Defendant Nalley. Dent testified there is
a big difference between one-house and three-house, in that
one-house was quieter with more mature inmates while
three-house is louder and run by “gang bangers.”
(Doc. 187-1, p. 8). Dent complained about his reassignment to
the warden, the placement office, internal affairs, and
“everybody, ” and he was told that all of the
library workers were being moved to three-house. (Doc. 187-1,
p. 9). Nalley testified there was a phase where Big Muddy
moved all of the students and the school workers to
three-house. (Doc. 187-7, p. 14). According to Dent, however,
no other library workers moved with him. (Doc. 187-1, p. 9).
library worker, Dent helped other inmates file lawsuits,
including lawsuits against internal affairs officers at Big
Muddy. He testified that Nalley and the internal affairs team
did not want him to help the inmates file lawsuits against
them and that it became a source of conflict. Dent felt like
he was stuck in the middle and had to choose between doing
his job by helping inmates and helping Nalley by keeping
other inmates from complaining about him. (Doc. 182-1, p. 9).
His experiences in dealing with Nalley and internal affairs
caused him great concern with how the unit operated, and Dent
wanted to do something about it. (Doc. 182-1, p. 10-11).
Wilson submitted an incident report on March 3, 2016, about
events that occurred the day before. She reported that Dent
asked about the whistleblower statute. Dent allegedly told
her, “I know that I.A. is dirty, but I’m afraid
if I try to turn them in, they’ll be notified (I.A.
staff) and then I’m done, Ms. Wilson, then I’m
done for sure.” Wilson went on to note that the former
internal affairs supervisor, Big Muddy “appeared to be
run by thugs in I.A. who are unscrupulous.” Dent also
told her that the internal affairs officers “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. They will
kill me for sure, Ms. Wilson.” At the end of the
conversation, she spoke to her supervisor, and he advised
that she speak to the warden, Defendant Jason Garnett. (Doc.
testified that the retaliation against him began in earnest
on March 3, 2016. (Doc. 187-1, p. 5). According to Dent, he
had been working as a confidential informant for internal
affairs, primarily with Nalley. He alleges that one of his
roles for internal affairs was to control the number of
lawsuits and grievances that inmates filed. On March 3, 2016,
Nalley summoned Dent and asked him if he was okay, which Dent
later tied to an incident report Jennifer Wilson turned over
to Garnett. Garnett, in turn, allegedly gave the report to
Nalley. During his conversation with Nalley, Dent provided
information about what he viewed as threats to Marcentel. He
felt like Nalley wasn’t listening to him and described
the meeting as the last boiling point in feeling fed up with
Nalley. (Doc. 187-1, p. 5-6).
Nalley testified that Dent never worked as a confidential
informant for him. He claims Dent wanted to meet with him on
March 3, 2016, to discuss Dent’s reassignment to
three-house. Nalley described the conversation as relaxed. He
did not remember their conversation involving information
about other inmates, but he did remember that Marcental told
him that he and Dent had been in a relationship that ended.
(Doc. 187-7, p. 14-15). At some point during the
conversation, Dent claims that Defendant Jason Garnett, the
warden, called Nalley to see if Dent was with him. Nalley
allegedly warned him to watch what he said to Garnett.
Garnett came to the internal affairs office and talked with
Dent and Nalley about a meeting in the library that Dent
missed because he was talking with Nalley. (Doc. 182-1, p.
to Dent, Nalley-with a retaliatory motive- relayed everything
he said to Marcentel, who then told other inmates that Dent
was working with internal affairs. (Doc. 187-1, p. 5-6). On
March 22, 2016, Dent filed a grievance because other inmates
were coming up to him in the library and telling him they
heard he was working with internal affairs. (Doc. 187-1, p.
6). He claims that the grievance never got to its intended
recipient because Defendant Nalley held it up.
March 29, 2016 grievance, Dent again complained about
retaliation by Nalley. He attached a copy of his March 22
grievance and indicated that he signed a declaration against
Nally on March 25, 2016, and that he was in the process of
exposing corruption in the internal affairs department. He
complained that Nalley was known for retaliating against
inmates who filed grievances. (Doc. 182-4).
testified that on April 7, 2016, Marcentel got together with
Nalley and Defendant Denise Minor and told them that Dent was
running the lines in the library, kicking off an
investigation into whether he was abusing his position. Dent
was not punished after this alleged investigation. (Doc.
187-1). He claims the next retaliatory incident came on April
14, 2016, when he was sent to segregation for approximately
eight days due to an investigation under the Prison Rape
Elimination Act (PREA). (Doc. 187-1, p. 7-8). According to an
April 14, 2016 incident report, an inmate reported to a
correctional officer that he had been sexually harassed by
Dent in the school building. Dent allegedly told this inmate
that he was going to get him moved and that he was going to
have sex with him. Dent was then moved to segregation on
investigative status. (Doc. 182-9).
Denise Minor was a supervisor in internal affairs at Big
Muddy in 2016. Her supervisor was the warden. (Doc. 187-6, p.
3). She described Nalley as a good, thorough officer. (Doc.
187-6, p. 5). She testified that internal affairs received a
lot of false PREA reports but that they have to investigate
every report under the guidelines. According to Minor,
inmates sometimes submit false reports to get a different
housing assignment or cellmate. (Doc. 187-6, p. 6). Inmates
against whom a claim has been filed must be kept separate
until the investigation is complete. The inmates are sent to
segregation on investigative status, but it is not meant to
be punitive. (Doc. 187-6, p. 6).
testified that she first met Dent during the PREA
investigation in April 2016. (Doc. 187-6, p. 8). She found it
difficult to interview him because he would not stay focused
on her questions and wanted to talk about a grievance
instead. (Doc. 187-6, p. 9). Other than the grievances he
brought up during their conversation, Minor testified that
she was unaware of any grievances Dent filed before their
interview. (Doc. 187-6, p. 9-10). She denies making any
threats to Dent if he kept filing grievances. (Doc. 187-6, p.
10). Dent, however, testified that Minor focused their
conversation while he was held on investigative status on
whether he wanted to pursue his grievance against Nalley, and
Dent claims that Minor said that she and Garnett wanted to
know what he planned to do about the grievance. (Doc. 182-1,
was released from investigative status on April 22, 2016, but
he claims that he was released hours later than usual due to
retaliation by Defendant Minor. He testified that Minor also
intentionally assigned him to cell with a very aggressive
inmate who was homophobic in retaliation for his complaints
about Nalley. He claims that his cellmate threatened him and
would lock him out of the cell. (Doc. 187-1, p. 7-8). Dent
drafted his initial complaint in this action while he was in
segregation and filed it the day that he was released. (Doc.
187-1, p. 10).
Counts 5 and 7
went back to work after his release from segregation. On
April 26, 2016, Defendant Minor allegedly pulled Dent from
the library line and held him for three hours to investigate
his grievance against Nalley and internal affairs. (Doc.
187-1, p. 9). According to Minor, their conversation focused
on Marcentel, and Dent was upset about him more than anything
else. When she tried to steer the interview back to Nalley,
Dent would return to talking about Marcentel. (Doc. 187-6, p.
13). She found Dent hard to follow during the interview. She
was not aware that he had filed a lawsuit days before their
meeting. (Doc. 187-6, p. 14).
decided to refer Dent for a mental health appointment because
he was crying and visibly shaken up during their
conversation. (Doc. 187-6, p. 15). In the incident report she
drafted in relation to the referral, Minor wrote that she
made it due to Dent’s inability to focus during their
interview and because he appeared to be overwhelmingly
obsessed with other inmates’ legal matters. (Doc.
187-8). Dent maintains that her claims about his mental