Coleman v. Korte et al
SUMMARY JUDGMENT OPINION Entered by Judge Sue E. Myerscough on 01/05/2018. SEE WRITTEN OPINION. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 36 is GRANTED. The clerk of the court is directed to enter judgment in favor of Defendants and against P laintiff. All pending motions are denied as moot, and this case is terminated, with the parties to bear their own costs. Plaintiff remains responsible for the $350.00 filing fee. Defendant Nurse Jane Doe is dismissed without prejudice for Pl aintiff's failure to comply with the Court's Scheduling Order. Clerk is directed to terminate Defendant Nurse Jane Doe. If Plaintiff wishes to appeal this judgment, he must file a notice of appeal with this Court within 30 days of the en try of judgment. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a) (4). A motion for leave to appeal in forma pauperis MUST identify the issues the Plaintiff will present on appeal to assist the court in determining whether the appeal is taken in good faith. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(1)(c); see also Celske v Edwards, 164 F.3d 396, 398 (7th Cir. 1999)(an appellant should be given an opportunity to submit a statement of his grounds for appealing so that the district judge "can make a reasonable assessment of the issu e of good faith."); Walker v. O'Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 632 (7th Cir. 2000)(providing that a good faith appeal is an appeal that "a reasonable person could supposehas some merit" from a legal perspective). If Plaintiff does choose to appeal, he will be liable for the $505.00 appellate filing fee regardless of the outcome of the appeal.(DM, ilcd)
Tuesday, 09 January, 2018 05:41:13 PM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
ANTHONY J. COLEMAN, JR, A/K/A
JEFF KORTE, et al.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT OPINION
SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge:
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and presently incarcerated at
Lawrence Correctional Center, brought the present lawsuit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging an Eighth Amendment claim
for failure to protect from harm arising from incidents that
transpired while he was incarcerated at Western Illinois
Correctional Center. The matter comes before this Court for ruling
on the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. The motion is
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Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). All facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in
his favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010).
The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986). In order to be a “genuine” issue, there must be
more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
586 (1986). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry
of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986).
At all times relevant, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Western
Illinois Correctional Center (“Western”). Defendants were employed
at Western in the following capacities: Defendant Korte was the
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Warden, and Defendant Megginson was a lieutenant assigned to
Internal Affairs. All other defendants named in Plaintiff’s
complaint, except for Defendant Nurse Jane Doe, have been
On May 12, 2015, another inmate in Plaintiff’s housing unit
spit through the window screen in Plaintiff’s cell door after calling
Plaintiff several derogatory names. The next day, Plaintiff told Malia
Harney, the associate dean of the college program, that Plaintiff
would be forced to fight this inmate if officials did not take action.
Ms. Harney reported Plaintiff’s comments to other staff, and,
according to Plaintiff’s deposition testimony, Defendant Megginson
interviewed Plaintiff regarding the incident. Pl.’s Dep. 17:23-18:12.
Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was taken to segregation pending a
disciplinary hearing for violating the rule against threats and
intimidation. Plaintiff was later found guilty and sentenced to 15
days in segregation.
Plaintiff wrote several letters and grievances regarding the
incident and the resulting punishment. In a letter sent to
Defendant Korte, Plaintiff briefly describes the incident with the
other inmate and complains about the severity of punishments for
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violating certain rules. (Doc. 1-1 at 2-3). The letter does not state
that Plaintiff feared any future harm or retribution from the other
inmate as a result of the May 2015 incident. Only one of the
grievances, dated June 16, 2015, states that Plaintiff feared attack
from the other inmate. (Doc. 1-1 at 15); see also (Docs. 1-1 at 6-7,
9-10, 12-15; 18-19).
Plaintiff testified that he sent two letters to Defendant
Megginson while he was in segregation describing his fear of the
other inmate and his reservations about being released into general
population. Pl.’s Dep. 40:7-17; 42:18-23. Plaintiff has not
produced copies of these letters—any copies are at “home” and he
has no access to them. Id. 41:2-8. Defendant Megginson does not
dispute that Plaintiff wrote the letters. Instead, he states in his
affidavit that he does not recall receiving them. (Doc. 37-2 at 1, ¶
Plaintiff also testified that he told Defendant Teel1 about his
fears in a personal conversation while he was in segregation.
According to Plaintiff, Defendant Teel stated that she would notify
Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant Teel were dismissed without prejudice on
July 21, 2016, for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (Doc. 29).
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Internal Affairs of his statements. Plaintiff does not know if she
ever followed through.
Despite his expressed fears, Plaintiff was sent back into
general population where he was housed in a unit different from the
one where the incident with the other inmate had occurred. Pl.’s
Dep. 33:11-15. Plaintiff is not sure where the other inmate was
housed at that time, but, at any rate, Plaintiff only encountered this
inmate one time thereafter while “outside on the walk.” Id. 43:1322. Plaintiff suffered no physical injury as a result of prison
officials’ actions in this case. Id. 44:2-5.
To succeed on a failure to protect claim, a plaintiff must show
(1) “that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial
risk of serious harm,” and, (2) prison officials acted with “deliberate
indifference” to that risk. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994). For purposes of satisfying the first prong, “it does not
matter whether the risk comes from a single source or multiple
sources, any more than it matters whether a prisoner faces an
excessive risk of attack for reasons personal to him or because all
prisoners in his situation face such a risk.” Id. at 843.
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A prison official acts with deliberate indifference if he “knows
of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the
official must both be aware of the facts from which the inference
could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and
he must also draw the inference.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 843. A
plaintiff “normally proves actual knowledge of impending harm by
showing that he complained to prison officials about a specific
threat to his safety.” Pope v. Shafer, 86 F.3d 90, 92 (7th Cir. 1996).
A prisoner complaint “that identifies a specific, credible, and
imminent risk of serious harm and identifies the prospective
assailant typically will support an inference that the official to
whom the complaint was communicated had actual knowledge of
the risk,” but a generalized, vague, or stale concern about one’s
safety is not sufficient. Gevas v. McLaughlin, 798 F.3d 475, 480-81
(7th Cir. 2015) (collecting cases).
Defendant Megginson does not dispute that he interviewed
Plaintiff after Plaintiff told Ms. Harney about the incident, and the
Court assumes Plaintiff conveyed the same information he told Ms.
Harney. Defendant Megginson also does not dispute that Plaintiff
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sent letters outlining Plaintiff’s trepidation about returning to
general population where the other inmate was housed. In the
absence of any evidence disputing Plaintiff’s testimony, the Court
finds that a triable issue of fact exists as to whether Defendant
Megginson had personal knowledge of a specific risk of harm
Even so, no reasonable juror could conclude that Defendant
Megginson, or other prison officials, acted with deliberate
indifference. Once Plaintiff informed Ms. Harney of the situation
between him and the other inmate, Plaintiff was removed from the
housing unit where the incident happened and sent to segregation.
Once transferred back to general population, Plaintiff was not sent
back to the same unit where the incident happened. Plaintiff saw
the inmate only one time thereafter, and Plaintiff does not know
where the other inmate was housed after the incident.
Both inmates may have been housed in units designated for
inmates in general population, but this alone does not mean that
prison officials failed to take reasonable steps to prevent any risk of
harm Plaintiff faced. The only reasonable inference that can be
drawn from the record is that, after the incident, Plaintiff and the
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other inmate were either housed in separate units, or, if housed in
the same unit, they were kept away from each other. Accordingly,
the Court finds that no reasonable juror could conclude that
Defendant Megginson acted with deliberate indifference.
Defendant Korte and Defendant Nurse Jane Doe
Defendant Korte remained a defendant in this matter following
the Court’s merit review screening solely for purposes of assisting
Plaintiff in determining Defendant Nurse Jane Doe’s identity. (Doc.
8 at 8-9, ¶ 2). The Court’s Scheduling Order directed Plaintiff to file
a motion to substitute the real name of any Doe defendant within
60 days. (Doc. 21 at 5, ¶ 9). Plaintiff was advised that a failure to
do so could result in dismissal of the Doe defendant without
prejudice. Id. Plaintiff did not file any such motion, nor did he file
a motion requesting additional time to do so. Accordingly, the
Court will dismiss these defendants.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
1) Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment  is
GRANTED. The clerk of the court is directed to enter
judgment in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff. All
pending motions are denied as moot, and this case is
terminated, with the parties to bear their own costs.
Plaintiff remains responsible for the $350.00 filing fee.
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2) Defendant Nurse Jane Doe is dismissed without prejudice
for Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the Court’s
Scheduling Order. Clerk is directed to terminate
Defendant Nurse Jane Doe.
3) If Plaintiff wishes to appeal this judgment, he must file a
notice of appeal with this Court within 30 days of the
entry of judgment. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4). A motion for
leave to appeal in forma pauperis MUST identify the issues
the Plaintiff will present on appeal to assist the court in
determining whether the appeal is taken in good faith.
See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(1)(c); see also Celske v Edwards,
164 F.3d 396, 398 (7th Cir. 1999)(an appellant should be
given an opportunity to submit a statement of his grounds
for appealing so that the district judge “can make a
reasonable assessment of the issue of good faith.”); Walker
v. O’Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 632 (7th Cir. 2000)(providing
that a good faith appeal is an appeal that “a reasonable
person could suppose…has some merit” from a legal
perspective). If Plaintiff does choose to appeal, he will be
liable for the $505.00 appellate filing fee regardless of the
outcome of the appeal.
January 5, 2018.
FOR THE COURT:
s/Sue E. Myerscough
SUE E. MYERSCOUGH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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