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Gully. v. Hundley

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 27, 2019

RONNIE GULLY, JR., Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL Chief U.S. District Judge

         Pending before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Mark A. Beatty (Doc. 87), in which he recommends the undersigned deny the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Ronnie Gully, Jr. (Doc. 62). For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation and denies Gully’s motion for summary judgment.


         Gully, an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights that occurred at Lawrence Correctional Center. (Doc. 1). After threshold review of his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Gully was permitted to proceed on the following claims:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Officer Houser and Officer Hundley for harassing Plaintiff beginning in July 2016.
Count 2: First Amendment retaliation claim against Officer Houser and Officer Hundley for responding to Plaintiff’s grievances regarding sexual harassment by Officer Houser by threatening him, issuing him false disciplinary tickets, and/or taking his personal property.

(Doc. 7).

         On September 25, 2018, Gully filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 62). At the outset of his declaration in support of summary judgment, Gully stated: “I solemnly swear that all factual elements and variables in my original civil action are true; I further certify the reliability and truthfulness to my exhibits and statements.” (Doc. 62-1). He also signed the declaration under penalty of perjury that his statements were true and correct. Accordingly, the Court considers Gully’s factual allegations, to the extent he made them based on personal knowledge, to be competent summary judgment evidence. See Beal v. Beller, 847 F.3d 897, 901 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Ford v. Wilson, 90 F.3d 245, 246 (7th Cir. 1996) (a verified complaint is “the equivalent of an affidavit for purposes of summary judgment, because it ‘contains factual allegations that if included in an affidavit or deposition would be considered evidence, and not merely assertion.’”).

         The material facts as set forth in Gully’s statement of facts, as well as his declaration and verified complaint, are largely disputed. In his verified complaint, Gully claims that Defendants Thomas Howser[1] and Derek Hundley retaliated against him for filing grievances about inappropriate sexual comments that Howser made to him in July 2016. (Doc. 7). Specifically, Gully alleges that in July 2016, Howser escorted Gully to the restroom where he then strip-searched Gully and, in the process, made inappropriate sexual comments to Gully. (Doc. 62-1 at p. 4).

         Gully filed a grievance on August 15, 2016, detailing the acts of sexual harassment. (Doc. 62-1 at p. 5). On August 20, 2016, Howser stopped Gully in the chow hall and told him he had gotten wind of the grievances Gully had filed (Id.). Howser told Gully he would “never get away.” (Id.).

         On August 22, 2016, Gully was issued an allegedly fabricated disciplinary ticket by Officer Reeves, “a fellow colleague of Mr. Houser[sic] whom he’s worked with for the last 15 years.” (Doc. 62-1 at p. 5). Gully ultimately was found guilty of the ticket and sent to segregation. (Id.).

         Gully continued to write grievances about staff conduct and his fear of more retaliatory acts. (Id.). He also spoke with Internal Affairs prior to his release from segregation about his fears. (Id. at p. 6). Once released from segregation, he claims Howser began stalking him and making more threats.

         On November 26, 2016, Gully was transferred away from Howser to a different area of the prison (Doc. 62-1, p. 7). On November 28, 2016, Hundley approached Gully and said that “he’s been hearing [Gully’s] name throughout the institution.” (Id.). Hundley further told Gully he “didn’t understand the can of worms [he’s] opened by fucking with Howser” and to lay off Howser or Hundley would make life a living hell. (Id.). The following day, Gully had a sick call pass, and Hundley escorted him back to his cell. Claiming Gully elbowed him, Hundley then said, “if you ever do that again I’ll walk your ass, no you know what pack your shit you’re going to seg.” (Id.). Gully was taken to segregation and issued a ticket for assaulting a prison staff member, which constitutes a new criminal charge and can result in additional time added to his sentence. (Id.).

         When Gully was released from segregation, he found his recently purchased food items were gone, and the officer who inventoried his items was Hundley. (Id. at p. 8). Three days later, Gully was found guilty of a ticket for insolence-not assaulting a prison staff member-and lost several privileges, including phone privileges during the holiday season. (Id.). Gully filed grievances about this retaliation and being found guilty of something he was never charged ...

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