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Carter v. Benton

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 4, 2019



          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) of United States Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly (Doc. 58), recommending that the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Sherry Benton and John Baldwin (Doc. 52) be granted. Plaintiff Jonathan T. Carter filed a timely objection (Doc. 59). For the following reasons, Judge Daly's Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED.


         Carter filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Defendants failed to protect him from other inmates by denying him protective custody while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) on January 10, 2017. He is proceeding on the following claim:

         Count 1 - Benton and Baldwin failed to protect Plaintiff by failing to grant him protective custody in January 2017, resulting in Plaintiff being attacked by fellow inmates in February 2017, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         Defendants moved for summary judgment (Doc. 52) to which Carter responded (Doc. 56). Judge Daly issued a Report setting forth the applicable law and her conclusion that Defendants Benton and Baldwin are entitled to summary judgment because there is no evidence that they were aware of and disregarded a known hazard to Plaintiff's health and safety and no evidence that Baldwin was personally involved in any deprivation (Doc. 58).

         Factual Background

         As Carter does not dispute the material facts set forth in Judge Daly's Report except as to one issue set forth below, they are incorporated herein: When Carter was housed at Menard in January 2013, he was approved for protective custody. At the time, he felt threatened by fellow members of the Four Corner Hustler Security Threat Group (“STG”) because he refused to assault a staff member. He was subsequently transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center where he remained in protective custody until he signed himself out in December 2013. After a transfer to Stateville Correctional Center, Carter was transferred back to Menard on October 12, 2016 and placed in general population.

         On October 25, 2016, Carter was approached by inmates, including inmate Boyd who was a member of Four Corner Hustler STG, and confronted about the events at Menard in 2013. He checked into protective custody that same day. A few days later, on November 4, 2016, Carter spoke to his counselor about his request, telling her that he had been confronted by three inmates. He did not identify his accosters by name but did state where two of them lived. His counselor, J. Cowan, recommended that protective custody be denied because he “gave no other information as to why he needed pc. He only spoke in general terms about being confronted” (Doc. 53-3, p. 6).

         Carter's request for protective custody was reviewed by Intel Officer Spiller who interviewed Carter on November 17, 2016. Spiller likewise found that protective custody should be denied because Carter “provided no verifiable information during the interview to substantiate any valid threats” (Id.). Carter was told that he could immediately grieve the denial to the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) (Id. p. 7).

         On January 10, 2017, Sherry Benton held a hearing on Carter's appeal. She interviewed him, permitted him to read and review documents, and outlined his claim (Id. p. 1). She noted that Carter had not declared enemies at Menard, that he had been “in and out of PC”, and that he signed himself out of protective custody in 2013. She concluded that he did not provide “sufficient verifiable information” to warrant protective custody (Id.). Defendant Baldwin agreed with Benton's conclusion and Carter was placed back in general population on January 17, 2017.

         Carter was again confronted by 4 inmates at lunch on February 4, 2017. This time, Darren Gillespie of the Four Corner Hustler STG and three other inmates belonging to the Vice Lords and Black Souls STGs approached him. There is no evidence that Carter reported this encounter. Later that day, in the early evening, he was attacked by 3 inmates including Gillespie, “Little Lord, ” and inmate Harris. He sought medical care around 5:00 p.m. Despite the medical notes stating otherwise, he suffered swollen eyes from the fight and use of mace, scratches, damage to his right hand, and aggravation of a back injury.


         Because a timely objection was filed, the undersigned must undertake a de novo review of the Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C); FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); SDIL-LR 73.1(b); see also Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). De novo review requires the Court to consider “specific written objections, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2) and (3), and to make a decision “based on an independent review of the evidence and arguments without giving any presumptive weight to the magistrate judge's conclusion.” Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 661 (7th Cir. 2013). The Court "may accept, reject or modify the magistrate judge's recommended decision." Rule 72(b)(2) and (3). Consistent with these standards, the Court has reviewed Judge Daly's Report de novo. Carter generally argues that Judge Daly failed to consider the evidence and that she was biased. This Court finds no bias in Judge Daly's Report. The fact that ...

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