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McKinley v. Atchinson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 30, 2019




         Pending before the Court is the Report and Recommendation by Magistrate Judge Mark A. Beatty (Doc. 208), which recommends that the undersigned District Judge deny the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by all Defendants (Doc. 189). Defendants timely objected to the Report and Recommendation (Doc. 214). For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts in part and rejects in part the Report and Recommendation and grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.


         The following facts are not genuinely disputed for purposes of summary judgment:

         On September 11, 2013, Plaintiff Benard McKinley filed suit in this District Court against Defendants Rick Harrington, Michael Atchinson, and Aimee Lang. See McKinley v. Harrington, 13-cv-937-MJR (“2013 McKinley”). Defendant Atchison was Warden of Menard Correctional Center from December 2011 to January 2013 (Doc. 190-1). Defendant Harrington was Warden of Menard Correctional Center from January 2013 until April 2014 (Doc. 190-2). Aimee Lang was a medical tech (2013 McKinley, Doc. 7).

         McKinley alleged that on October 25, 2012, he was placed in Administrative Detention (AD)[1] under a new program implemented by then-Warden Atchison and continued by present-Warden Harrington (Doc. 190-2). The detention program, while characterized as non-disciplinary, subjected McKinley to the same restrictions on the possession of property as inmates in disciplinary segregation without any hearing or measure of due process (Id.). Specifically, McKinley claimed he did not receive certain property items until a few days after he was placed in AD (2013 McKinley, Doc. 1). Furthermore, he was forced to wait 60 days to submit a request to get his audio-visual privileges restored (Id.). The remainder of his property was not given him until January 29, 2013. (Id.). McKinley claimed this deprivation of his property without a hearing was a violation of his due process rights (Id.). McKinley further alleged a claim of deliberate indifference as to his asthma while he was in AD.

         Upon threshold review in 2013 McKinley, the Court found that the Complaint alleged two counts (2013 McKinley, Doc. 7):

Count 1: Defendants Atchison and Harrington denied McKinley procedural due process in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments when they subjected to him to administrative detention and its attendant “property” restrictions without any hearing; and
Count 2: Defendants Amy Lang and Michael P. Atchison were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eight Amendment when they took no steps to secure an inhaler refill or otherwise have McKinley's asthma treated.

         In reviewing Count 1, the 2013 McKinley Court noted that an inmate's “mere placement or retention” in AD does not deprive him of a protected liberty or property interest. Furthermore, McKinley did not allege that his term in AD extended his sentence in any way or implicated any liberty interest such that any due process rights were triggered (Id.). Accordingly, the 2013 McKinley court dismissed Count 1 and Defendants Harrington and Atchison with prejudice (Id.). The deliberate indifference claim with regard to his asthma survived preliminary review.

         On May 1, 2014, McKinley moved to amend his Complaint in 2013 McKinley, and on October 6, 2014, he filed a motion for leave to supplement his Complaint. The proposed Amended Complaint (and supplement) alleged, in relevant part, that in April 2014, he was placed in Menard's AD step-down program, but subsequently was removed and placed back on AD status. He also alleged that, during his time in AD, he was in a cell with no heat, hot water, or sanitary supplies; the window in his cell was broken; and there was dirt and rodent feces on the floor. He claimed he told Joshua Schoenbeck and Lance Phelps about the conditions but they refused to do anything.

         McKinley's motions to amend and supplement the complaint were granted (Doc. 46). The Amended Complaint added new counts against Defendants Phelps and Schoenbeck for retaliating against him by placing him in administrative segregation for refusing to answer questions and for his religious beliefs, for subjecting him to excessive force in retaliation for filing 2013 McKinley, for thwarting his plans to marry in retaliation for filing 2013 McKinley, and for subjecting him to inhumane living conditions in AD in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Although the Motion to Amend was granted, the Court severed the claims against Defendants Phelps and Schoenbeck into a separate suit. See McKinley v. Schoenbeck, 14-cv-1137-NJR-DGW (“2014 McKinley”).

         McKinley filed a Second Amended Complaint in 2014 McKinley on July 6, 2015 (2014 McKinley at Doc. 43). The Second Amended Complaint added Chad Hasemeyer and Jacqueline Lashbrook as defendants in that matter, alleging these parties also retaliated against McKinley by placing him in segregation due to his inability to assist in an internal affairs investigation and for his religious beliefs. The Court granted summary judgment to all Defendants, a decision that McKinley appealed. In its opinion, the Seventh Circuit noted that “[a]fter McKinley was released from administrative detention in November 2015, he filed this civil-rights lawsuit.”[2] The opinion also references McKinley's “over three years” in administrative detention on four instances. Ultimately, the Seventh Circuit reversed the Court's grant of summary judgment to Lashbrook, Phelps, and Schoenbeck. 2014 McKinley is still pending.

         McKinley filed this action on June 17, 2016 (Doc. 1) and amended his complaint on August 16, 2016 (Doc. 19).[3] In his First Amended Complaint, McKinley alleged that he was placed in AD in 2012 in retaliation for refusing to answer questions by internal affairs officers. He further claimed he had no hearing to address his continued placement in AD until July 2014. Prison officials met ten times between October 2012 and October 2015 to review his situation, but found that his continued confinement in AD was appropriate. At four hearings between July 2014 and October 2015, members of Menard's Administrative Detention Review Committee (“ADRC”), affirmed these decisions. McKinley, however, described these hearings a “sham.” Finally, he claimed that the conditions of his cell were deplorable, as they were infested with mice, cockroaches, and other bugs, the window was cracked, the heat was broken, and he had no hot water for months at a time. He also was denied cleaning supplies.

         After threshold review of his First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (Doc. 20), McKinley was allowed to proceed on the following claims:

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants for depriving McKinley of a protected liberty interest without due process of law in connection with his placement in administrative detention at Menard for 1, 096 days from 2012-2015.
Count 2: First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants for holding McKinley in administrative detention at Menard for 1, 096 days from 2012-2015 because he filed grievances and lawsuits against them.
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for subjecting McKinley to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in administrative detention at Menard for 1, 096 days from 2012-2015.

         At that time, the Court noted that McKinley “may be foreclosed from pursuing portions of his claims against Warden Atchinson, Warden Harrington, and Joshua Schoenbeck” when he previously filed a due process claim against Atchison and Harrington that was dismissed with prejudice against both defendants, and when he was currently pursuing similar claims against Schoenbeck in another case (Doc. 20 at p. 7); see McKinley v. Harrington, No. 3:13-cv-00937-SCW (S.D. Ill. Sep. 11, 2013). Because the Court could not assess the extent to which the claims were duplicative, however, McKinley was permitted to proceed against all named defendants at that time (Id.).

         Motion for Summary Judgment

         On October 29, 2018, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that McKinley's claims are barred by res judicata, they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his due process claims, McKinley's claims are barred in part by the statute of limitations, and they are shielded from liability by the doctrine of qualified immunity (Doc. 189).

         Specifically with regard to res judicata, Defendants argued there is (1) a final judgment of the merits in 2013 McKinley in favor of Defendants Harrington and Atchison; (2) there is an identity of the cause of action as McKinley's claim in the case at bar and his claims in 2013 McKinley arise from his confinement in administrative detention; and (3) Defendants Harrington and Atchison are defendants in both suits. Furthermore, because res judicata acts as a bar to a subsequent suit in every matter that might or could have been ...

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