Vega v. Atchison et al
ORDER GRANTING IN PART and DENYING IN PART 118 Motion for Summary Judgment. Judgment is GRANTED in favor of Defendants Hasemeyer and Mueller on Count 1 and DENIED as to all other Defendants. Judgment is also GRANTED in favor of Defendant Godinez o n Count 2 and DENIED as to all other Defendants. Summary judgment is DENIED on the issue of qualified immunity. This matter will proceed to trial on Counts 1 and 2 as outlined in the attached Order. Signed by Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel on 3/6/2018. (klh2) THIS TEXT ENTRY IS AN ORDER OF THE COURT. NO FURTHER DOCUMENTATION WILL BE MAILED.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
S.A. GODINEZ, and
Case No. 3:14-cv-1396-NJR-DGW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge:
Now pending before the Court is a fully briefed Motion for Summary Judgment filed
by all Defendants on October 6, 2017 (see Docs. 118, 124). For the reasons set forth below, the
Motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiff Jesus Vega is proceeding on two counts related to placement in the
Administrative Detention Unit (“ADU”) at Menard Correctional Center from November
2012 to December 2015 (Doc. 82). He claims that he was placed in the ADU without any due
process, that his continued placement in the ADU also was without due process, and that he
was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in the ADU.
Page 1 of 20
A. Vega’s Placement in the ADU
Administrative detention is defined by state regulation as “a nondisciplinary status
of confinement which removes an offender from general population or restricts the
individual’s access to general population” (Doc. 124, ¶4; Doc. 124-9). Defendant Kimberly
Butler, the former Assistant Warden and Warden at Menard, testified that inmates were
placed in the ADU if they were identified as being a threat to the safety of the facility, which
usually occurred if the inmate was involved in a security threat group (“STG”) (i.e., gang) or
involved in assaulting other offenders or staff (Doc. 119, ¶3). The warden, with the approval
of the Director, Deputy Director, or Assistant Deputy Director, was authorized to place an
inmate in administrative detention for up to ninety days (Doc. 124-9). Placement was
reviewed every ninety days to determine whether continued placement in the ADU was
appropriate (Doc. 119, ¶7).
Defendants freely admit that no process was provided to inmates prior to their
placement in the ADU at Menard (Doc. 119, ¶4; Doc. 124, ¶5). There was no hearing, and
inmates were not told why they were placed in the ADU (Doc. 124, ¶5). The reason for the
placement, if any, was not documented in any way (Id.). For the periodic reviews, state
regulations did not require a hearing or an interview with the inmate; they required only
that the warden “review the record” of every inmate in the ADU (Doc. 124, ¶12; Doc. 124-9).
Defendant Butler testified that the only way for an inmate to challenge his placement was
through the grievance process (Doc. 124, ¶5; Doc. 119-5, p. 50). She acknowledged, however,
that if an inmate filed a grievance regarding his placement in the ADU, he was commonly
told the issue was “nongrievable,” and she did not know of any inmate who ever
successfully challenged his placement (Doc. 124, ¶¶5, 38).
Page 2 of 20
Vega was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, where he was housed in
general population, from 2006 until November 1, 2012, at which time he was transferred to
Menard and placed in the ADU by Michael Atchison, the warden at Menard at the time
(Doc. 124, ¶6; Doc. 119, ¶2; Doc. 119-4, p. 1). Vega was not told why he was placed in the
ADU, and no reason was listed on the document directing Vega’s placement in the ADU
(Doc. 124, ¶7; Doc. 119-4, p. 1).
Nine days after arriving in the ADU, Vega received a disciplinary ticket for “104
Dangerous Contraband” (Doc. 119-3). His “Disciplinary Card” indicates that he had “6 3/8
in. home made weapon, SEWING NEEDLE” (Id.). Vega was found guilty and punished with
one-year of disciplinary segregation, a change in his security grade, and commissary
restriction (Id.). Because Vega was already in the ADU, receiving disciplinary segregation
simply meant a change in designation, and he served his disciplinary segregation in the
same ADU cell in which he served his administrative detention (Doc. 119-1, p. 13).
Vega’s placement in the ADU was first reviewed on February 1, 2013, by Defendant
Richard Harrington, who had replaced Atchison as the Warden at Menard, and Vega’s
administrative detention was continued (Doc. 119-4, ¶8; Doc. 119-4, p. 2). (see Doc. 119-4, p.
2). 1 Harrington testified at a deposition that, as Warden, he had no ability to decide whether
an inmate should or should not remain in the ADU (Doc. 124, ¶13; Doc. 124-2, p. 5). He
believed that he could not place an inmate in the ADU or authorize a release from the ADU
without permission from his superiors (Doc. 119, at ¶13; Doc. 124-2, p. 8). He testified that he
had “no idea” why the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) leadership in
Springfield had him go through the process of signing the review forms and stated “[i]t is a
There are no records from this periodic review (see Doc. 119-4).
Page 3 of 20
part of a procedure that Springfield had in place so we had to sign it.” (Doc. 124-2, p. 8).
However, S.A. Godinez, the Director of the IDOC, testified that he would be surprised if any
Warden did not know that he had the authority to either place someone in the ADU or retain
him there (Doc. 124-3, p. 5).
Harrington also conducted the reviews that took place on May 1, August 1, and
November 1, 2013 (see Doc. 119-4). At each review, Vega’s placement in the ADU was
continued, and the reasons provided were “Remain in AD on seg status,” “Remain in AD,
currently seg status until 11/10/2013,” and “currently on segregation status until
11/10/2013” (Id. at pp. 6–8). On November 8, 2013, Vega was released from segregation
status to “AD Phase 1” (Id. at p. 5). There is no indication of how Phase 1 differed from
segregation status. 2
In December 20, 2013, while on Phase 1, Vega received a disciplinary ticket for “211
Pos. or Sol. of U/A Personal Information” and “310 Abuse of Privileges” for using another
inmate’s ID number (Doc. 119-3). He was put back on segregation status for another three
months (Id.). At the periodic review conducted on February 1, 2014, Vega’s placement in the
ADU was continued, and the reason given was “currently segregation status” (Doc. 119-4,
Vega repeatedly filed grievances about being placed and retained in the ADU
without any explanation (see, e.g., Doc. 124-5, pp. 1–4, 8–13, 20–21). Defendant Barbara
Mueller, a correctional counselor at Menard, responded to Vega’s grievances (Doc. 124,
¶¶38, 39). In one response, she stated “You claim IDOC has become judge, jury, and
Vega submitted an administrative directive issued on May 1, 2014, that delineates the different privileges
afforded to inmates in Phases 1, 2, and 3 (Doc. 124-10). There is no evidence as to whether that same description
of Phases 1, 2, and 3 applied prior to May 2014.
Page 4 of 20
executioner. We haven’t executed anyone in Admin. Detention program. This is an
Administrative placement and as such is not grievable” (Id.; Doc. 124-5, p. 20). In another
response, she stated “You have the right to ask. We have the right to deny answers to your
questions” (Doc. 124, ¶¶38, 39; Doc. 124-5, p. 20). Vega’s grievances were denied, and he did
not get any answers regarding his ADU placement through the grievance process (Doc. 124,
Things came to a head in 2014, when Vega and approximately twenty other inmates
in Menard’s ADU went on a mass hunger strike to protest the restrictions imposed upon
them and the fact that there was no process by which they could get out of the ADU
(Doc. 124, ¶41). Director Godinez toured the ADU at Menard in March 2014, and Vega asked
Godinez why he had been placed in administrative detention (Doc. 124, ¶41; see Doc. 119-6,
¶5; Doc. 119-7). Director Godinez wrote to Vega the next month and told him that it was
because he had “received 100, 200, & 300 series tickets, [his] identified involvement as a
security threat group leader, and [his] continued communication with a known security
group” (Doc. 119-7).
According to Vega, however, none of those reasons are true (Doc. 124, ¶42). Prior to
his transfer to the ADU, Vega did not have the types of tickets listed in the letter; they were
issued only after his placement in the ADU (Id.; see Doc. 119-3). Vega also denies that he was
the leader of a gang or on a “hit squad” (Doc. 124, ¶46). His testimony seems to be
corroborated by the fact that he never received any tickets for gang-related activities or for
being a gang leader (Id. at ¶47). Defendant Godinez admitted at his deposition that he does
not know how he concluded that Vega was an STG leader and does not know how Vega,
who had been housed in the ADU and segregated from other inmates, could have been in
Page 5 of 20
continued communication with a known STG (Id. at ¶43). Furthermore, the administrative
detention review forms from May 2013 to May 2014 all indicated that no gang activity had
been noted while Vega was in the ADU (Id. at ¶43).
On May 1, 2014, Vega’s placement in the ADU was once again reviewed and
continued without a hearing (Doc. 119, p. 3). In the space labeled “Reason for
Recommendation,” the committee chairperson wrote “Move from Phase 1 to Phase 2”
(Doc. 119-4, p. 3). This review was signed off on by Kimberly Butler, who had replaced
Richard Harrington as the Warden at Menard in April 2014 (see Doc. 119-4, p. 3).
Also on May 1, 2014, IDOC issued an administrative directive to “establish written
procedures for staff to govern the placement and supervision of offenders in administrative
detention” (Doc. 124, ¶44; Doc. 124-10). The new directive required IDOC officials to
document administrative detention placement decisions, to hold review committee hearings
within thirty days of placement, to review placement determinations every ninety days, and
to provide inmates with written notice “of the date of the Committee hearing and, with
reasonable specificity the Department’s justification for placement at least five working days
prior to the hearing” (Doc. 124-10). The directive also provided that the Committee should
be composed of certain individuals, and that in making the placement recommendations
and decisions, the Committee must consider, at a minimum, disciplinary reports, initial
administrative detention placement documents, updated intelligence activity related to the
safety and security of the facility, mental health evaluations, and oral or written statements
from the inmate (Id.).
Vega’s next review occurred on July 29, 2014 (Doc. 120, p. 6). This review is when
Vega received his first hearing—over 600 days after being placed in the ADU (Doc. 124, ¶45).
Page 6 of 20
Vega was informed before the hearing that he was placed in the ADU because he was
identified as the leader of the Latin Kings gang at Stateville and that he was “part of a hit
squad” (Doc. 119, ¶12; Doc. 120, p. 1). The review form notes that Vega had not received any
disciplinary tickets since the last review (Doc. 120, p. 6). His placement in the ADU was
continued at this review, and in the section of the review form where the committee was
supposed to provide a justification for continuing administrative detention, it was written
“Move from phase 2 to phase 3 for continued observation” (Id.).
Subsequent periodic reviews were conducted on October 23, 2014 and January 15,
2015 (Doc. 120, pp. 9, 14). At each review, it was noted that Vega had not received any
disciplinary tickets since the last review and he had not been placed in segregation since
December 2013 (Id.). Vega’s placement in the ADU was continued, and the justification
section of the October review form indicated “continue phase 3 on front N2-7 gallery for
further observation” (Id.). The justification section of the January review form was left blank
(Id.). Warden Butler and the Director of the IDOC (or deputy director) both signed off on the
January review (Id.).
Two months later, on March 17, 2015, Vega received another disciplinary ticket for
“304 Insolence” and “308 Contraband/Unauthorized property” because of a “verbal
altercation with staff [and] excess extension cords” (Doc. 120, p. 20). He was given one
month in segregation, and released to Phase 1 of administrative detention on April 17, 2015
(Id. at pp. 20, 30). The next review of his placement in the ADU occurred less than one month
later on May 8, 2015, and his placement was continued (see id. at p. 30). 3 At the next review
on July 9, 2015, it was noted that Vega had not received any disciplinary tickets since the last
There are no records from this periodic review (see Doc. 120).
Page 7 of 20
review and his most recent segregation placement was approximately four months prior
(Id.). Vega’s placement in the ADU was continued and the justification section was left
blank, but he was apparently moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of administrative detention (see
id. at pp. 30, 33).
At the review on September 22, 2015, it was once again noted that Vega had not
received any disciplinary tickets since the last review and his most recent segregation
placement was approximately six months prior (Doc. 120, p. 33). It was further noted that
Vega “denied ever being affiliated with an STG and has no safety concerns if released into
[general population” (Id.). Vega’s placement in the ADU was continued but he was moved
from Phase 2 to Phase 3 because he had “no issues during Phase 2” (Id.). Warden Butler did
not sign off on the review form until over a month later on October 28, 2015, and the Director
of the IDOC (or the deputy director) signed off on it on November 2, 2015 (Id.).
Interestingly, before Warden Butler and the Director ever signed the September
review form, another review was held on October 9, 2015 (Doc. 120, p. 37). At the October
review, the committee recommended that Vega be returned to general population (Id.).
Warden Butler concurred with the recommendation on October 16, 2015, and the IDOC
Director concurred approximately one week later (Id. at pp. 37, 38). 4 In other words, Butler
and the Director signed the review form for the October review releasing Vega from
administrative detention almost two weeks before they signed the review form for the
previous hearing held in September. Vega was released from the ADU in December 2015
(Doc. 124, ¶50), after spending approximately 37 months in administrative detention.
There are two Administrative Detention Review forms from the October 9th hearing. On the first, the
Director’s signature is dated October 23, 2015 (Doc. 120, p. 37). On the second, the Director’s signature is dated
October 27, 2015 (Id. at Doc. 38). No explanation for the discrepancy was given.
Page 8 of 20
B. Conditions in the ADU
Vega testified that during his time in the ADU, he was housed in a cell behind a solid
steel door with a small glass window (Doc. 124, ¶16). When he first arrived in the ADU, he
did not have a cellmate and could not communicate with any other inmates because of the
steel door on his cell (Id.). 5 While in the ADU, Vega was confined to his cell twenty-four
hours a day, except for five hours a week when he was allowed onto the yard. He ate every
meal in his cell and was no longer allowed to go to chow with other inmates (Id.). He was
allowed only one shower a week outside of his cell (Id.). He was not permitted to go to the
commissary and could purchase only limited items for delivery to his cell (Id.). He could not
go to the law library, to Bible study, to any classes or programs, or hold a job (Id.). He could
not control the light in his cell (Id.) He was no longer allowed access to property items such
as his electronic devices (television, radio, and shaver), audio tapes, and extra clothing and
shoes, and he had access to a limited number of books and magazines (Id.).
Vega testified that the ADU was infested with mice (Doc. 124, ¶18; Doc. 119-1, p. 10).
He said he saw mice at least twice a week while housed on the B and C wing, and he even
killed some with a shoe (Doc. 119-1, p. 14). Vega kept his cell clean, but the gallery outside
was not cleaned, and dust, hair, and bugs would come into his cell underneath the door (Id.
at p. 15). The bugs included spiders, cockroaches, and mosquitos, but they did not come into
his cell “that often” (Id.).
Vega’s cell also lacked hot water from November 2012 to October 2013 (Doc. 124,
¶22). He was not able to take a hot water shower as the water would fluctuate between
At some point, Vega had a cellmate in the ADU, but he could not recall when (Doc. 119-1, p. 3). Defendants
apparently did not produce any records with Vega’s cell assignment and cellmate history.
Page 9 of 20
“kind of warm” and cold (Doc. 119-1, p. 10–11). For much of that same time period—from
the time he was placed in the ADU in November 2012 until the spring of 2013—as well as
during the next winter, the heat in his cell was not working properly (Doc. 124, ¶19). A
Menard physical plant services work order dated October 31, 2012 confirmed that “B wing
in North II has no heat or hot water,” and “C wing has no hot water” (Doc. 124, ¶32).
When Vega arrived in the ADU, he had only his regular clothes, one blanket, and a
hat (Doc. 119, ¶23; Doc. 119-1, p. 12). He did not have a coat, gloves, or long underwear (Id.).
After he complained about the cold, he was given his sweatpants and sweatshirt (Id.). He
also was given a plastic bag to tape over his window (Id. at p. 14). He was not allowed to
purchase extra clothing (Doc. 124, ¶19). As a result of the lack of hot water and adequate
heating, Vega was not able to keep warm during the winter and suffered headaches and
head colds (Id. at ¶20). He also suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for which he sought
mental health care (Id. at ¶49).
Defendant Mueller testified that she received “hundreds” of grievances about both
the lack of heat and the lack of hot water (Doc. 124, ¶29; Doc. 124-1, pp. 5–6). Vega himself
submitted four grievances, in December 2012, January 2013, March 2013, and May 2013,
about the lack of heat or hot water (Doc. 124, ¶¶34-37). The responses he received were
signed by Defendant Butler and/or Defendant Mueller (Id.). In one of the responses, Mueller
stated, “You have a right to have water. Page 24 of the orientation manual states each cell
shall be furnished with a wash basin with running water and flushable toilets. You have
water in your cell” (Id. at ¶31). In a response to another inmate’s grievance, Mueller stated
“The pioneers showered, bathed and shaved in the cold without heat. They had no hot
water. Currently maintenance is working on your complaints” (Id. at ¶30). Mueller also
Page 10 of 20
made “flip” comments about the heating problems in the ADU, as did Defendant Chad
Hasemeyer (a shift commander at Menard) in a January 2013 staff email between Atchison,
Harrington, Butler, Hasemeyer, and Mueller (Id. at ¶31). Atchison testified that, based on the
notations on the October 2012 Work Order, it was “a reasonable assumption” that the heat
and hot water issues were reported in October 2012 but not resolved until May 2013 (Id. at
Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). “Factual disputes
are genuine only if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in
favor of the non-moving party on the evidence presented, and they are material only if their
resolution might change the suit’s outcome under the governing law.” Maniscalco v. Simon,
712 F.3d 1139, 1143 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). In
deciding a motion for summary judgment, “[a] court may not . . . choose between competing
inferences or balance the relative weight of conflicting evidence; it must view all the
evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and resolve all
factual disputes in favor of the non-moving party.” Hansen v. Fincantieri Marine Grp., LLC,
763 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted).
A. Count 1: Due Process
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies only to
deprivations of life, liberty, and property. Otherwise states are free to act
summarily. We undertake a two-part analysis in procedural due-process
cases: first, we determine whether the plaintiff was deprived of a protected
interest; if so, we determine what process was due under the circumstances.
Isby v. Brown, 856 F.3d 508, 524 (7th Cir. 2017) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Page 11 of 20
With respect to the first element, a protected liberty interest only exists when prison
officials restrain the freedom of inmates in a manner that “imposes atypical and significant
hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin v. Conner,
515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). “Prisoners do not have a constitutional right to remain in the general
population; but both the duration and the conditions of the segregation must be considered
in determining whether due process is implicated.” Isby, 856 F.3d at 524.
Here, the evidence shows that Vega was confined for just over three years in a dirty
cell, which also lacked adequate heat and hot water for a period of at least six months, in
almost total isolation with little to no human contact for approximately twenty-three hours
per day. Defendants do not make any argument as to whether the duration and conditions
of Vega’s confinement gave rise to a protected liberty interest (see Doc. 119). Based on the
lack of argument, the extended length of Vega’s stint in the ADU, and his undisputed
testimony concerning the conditions of his confinement, the Court concludes that Vega’s
placement in the ADU imposed an atypical and significant hardship within the correctional
context. See Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 223–24 (2005); Isby, 856 F.3d at 524.
The Court turns next to the issue of what process was due to Vega. Defendants
mistakenly believe that “the initial placement [in administrative detention] does not require
any procedural due process” (Doc. 119, p. 8). In Hewitt v. Helms, however, the Supreme
Court plainly instructed that an inmate confined to administrative detention was entitled to
“informal, nonadversary” due process. 459 U.S. 460, 474 (1983) (cited by Isby, 856 F.3d at
524–25; accord Proctor v. LeClaire, 846 F.3d 597, 609 (2d Cir. 2017); Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d
679, 684–86 (7th Cir. 2012). That means, within a “reasonable time” of his placement in
administrative detention, the inmate must be given “some notice of the reasons for [his]
Page 12 of 20
placement” and “an opportunity to present his views” to the prison official who decided to
place him in administrative detention. Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 476; Westefer, 682 F.3d at 684
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Here, it is undisputed that Vega received no process whatsoever when he was
initially placed in the ADU. Specifically, he was not told why he was placed in the ADU for
over 500 days, until April 2014 when he got the letter from Godinez. Vega also was not given
a chance to explain his side of the story for over 600 days, until July 2014 when he had his
first Committee hearing. Both time periods quite plainly exceed all boundaries of
Hewitt further instructs that prison officials are required to “engage in some sort of
periodic review” of the placement determination to verify that the inmate “remains a
security risk.” Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 477 n.9; Westefer, 682 F.3d 679. The periodic reviews can
also be “informal and nonadversary” but they “must still be meaningful and
non-pretextual.” Westefer, 682 F.3d at 686; Isby, 86 F.3d at 527. See also Toevs v. Reid, 685 F.3d
903, 912 (3d Cir. 2012) (“The [periodic] review need not be extensive . . . [b]ut the review
must be meaningful; it cannot be a sham or a pretext.”) (citations omitted). “[A] meaningful
review . . . is one that evaluates the prisoner’s current circumstances and future prospects,
and, considering the reason(s) for his confinement to the program, determines whether that
placement remains warranted.” Isby, 856 F.3d at 527 (quoting Toevs, 685 F.3d at 913 (internal
quotation marks omitted)).
Vega has presented evidence from which a jury could conclude that the reviews were
not constitutionally meaningful. There is little to no evidence of what the periodic reviews
entailed prior to July 2014. It is unclear what standard, if any, was used to evaluate Vega.
Page 13 of 20
The forms filled out for each periodic review provide only uninformative, boilerplate
reasons for continuing Vega’s placement in the ADU, such as “move from phase 1 to phase
2” (see Doc. 119-4, pp. 3–8). It does not appear that Vega was ever given any explanation after
a review occurred as to why his placement was continued or how he could get out of the
ADU. And Warden Harrington’s testimony, when viewed in a light most favorable to Vega,
could be viewed as an admission that he was simply going through the motions of the
review and rubber-stamping the committee’s decision. As such, there is a genuine issue as to
whether the periodic reviews prior to July 2014 were anything more than “hollow
formalities.” Proctor v. LeClaire, 846 F.3d 597, 612 (2d Cir. 2017).
Vega concedes that he had a hearing in July 2014, a few months after Butler became
Warden. At that time, and for each subsequent review, Vega was told in writing that his
continued placement in the ADU was because he was identified as a leader of a gang and
part of a “hit squad” (Doc. 120). There is evidence that calls into question whether these
reasons are true. He insists that he wasn’t. He also points to the fact that he never received a
ticket for gang activity. And none of the periodic review forms indicate that any
gang-related activity was observed after Vega was placed in the ADU. While it may be true
that Vega was a gang leader and responsible for attacks on other inmates or staff, such
information is not borne out by the evidence that is currently before the Court. Furthermore,
the reasons given for continuing Vega’s administrative detention—if a reason was provided
at all—continued to be uninformative, boilerplate statements. There was no explanation
why continued placement was necessary or any indication that Vega was told how he could
out of the ADU.
Page 14 of 20
Given the length of his administrative detention, the conflicting evidence as to the
reasons for it, and the repeated continuance of detention with only boilerplate language or
no justification at all, there is a genuine issue of fact as to whether Vega’s periodic reviews
were actual, meaningful reviews—“.i.e., one open to the possibility of a different
outcome”—or a pretext to keep him in confined in segregation indefinitely. Isby, 856 F.3d at
528. Thus, Defendant Atchison, the Warden who placed Vega in the ADU without any due
process, and Defendants Harrington and Butler, the Wardens who repeatedly continued
Vega’s administrative detention despite the potential due process violations outlined above,
are not entitled to summary judgment on Count 1.
Defendant Godinez is also not entitled to summary judgment on Count 1. It is
undisputed that Vega complained to Godinez that he had been placed in the ADU without
explanation, and therefore Godinez had reason to believe that Vega was being kept in the
ADU without the benefit of constitutionally required due process. It is also undisputed that
Godinez had the authority to review Vega’s ADU placement and even to release him. But
the only action Godinez took was to send Vega a letter providing reasons why Vega was
placed in the ADU. And, for reasons described elsewhere in this Order, a reasonable jury
could find the letter to be pretextual. Consequently, there is an issue of fact as to whether
Godinez was personally involved with the alleged due process violation. See Gill v. City of
Milwaukee, 850 F.3d 335, 344 (7th Cir. 2017) (“To succeed on a claim for supervisory liability,
a plaintiff must show that the supervisor was personally involved in the constitutional
violation . . . [meaning] the supervisor must know about the conduct and facilitate it,
approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye for fear of what [he] might see.”) (internal citation
and quotation marks omitted).
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As for Defendant Mueller, Vega complained to her on a weekly basis about his
placement in the ADU, and she essentially told him that it was an administrative decision
(Doc. 119-1, p. 17). Vega also complained to Major Hasemeyer when he saw him on the
wing, and Vega was told that “Stateville sent me here and put me in AD” (Id. at pp. 17-18).
Mueller and Hasemeyer argue, however, that they had no personal involvement in Vega’s
placement in the ADU (Doc. 119). It appears to be undisputed that Vega’s initial placement
and continued retention in the ADU were decisions made by the Warden and Directors
within the IDOC, all of whom are Defendant Mueller and Hasemeyer’s superiors. Their lack
of any involvement in Vega’s placement in ADU and their apparent inability to effect such a
placement means that they are entitled to judgment on Count 1. See Owens v. Evans, 878 F.3d
559, 564 (7th Cir. 2017) (“Prison officials who simply processed or reviewed inmate
grievances lack personal involvement in the conduct forming the basis of the grievance.”)
In sum, summary judgment in granted in favor of Defendants Hasemeyer and
Mueller on Count 1 and denied as to all other Defendants, including Defendant Baldwin
who is only sued in his official capacity in order to perfect injunctive relief.
B. Count 2: Conditions of Confinement
Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment “if they are deliberately indifferent to
adverse conditions that deny ‘the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities,’ such as
adequate food, clothing, shelter, recreation, and medical care.” Budd v. Motley, 711 F.3d 840,
842 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). The Seventh Circuit
has identified several situations that meet this demanding standard, including the lack of
heat. Gray v. Hardy, 826 F.3d 1000, 1005 (7th Cir. 2016). The lack of heat, in and of itself, can
violate the Eighth Amendment, particularly when the inmate is given alternative means to
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combat the cold that are inadequate and the cold persists for months. Dixon v. Godinez, 114
F.3d 640, 643 (7th Cir. 1997).
The Court must first evaluate whether the conditions that Vega endured in the ADU
were, from an objective standpoint, sufficiently serious that they resulted “in the denial of
the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.” Gray, 826 F.3d at 1005. Vega testified that
he was subjected to two winters without heat. He had only his regular clothes, a sweatsuit, a
single blanket, and a hat. He was given a plastic bag to tape over his window. Vega testified
these items were not enough to stay warm when he was confined for twenty-three hours a
day in his cell behind a solid steel door with no air circulation and a vent that did not blow
air, and the cold persisted day after day for months on end. Vega further testified that he had
no hot water in his cell for much of the time that he was without heat. Vega testified that the
ADU had mice and that he also battled spiders, cockroaches, and mosquitoes. This evidence,
viewed in a light most favorable to Vega, establishes a dispute of fact as to whether the
conditions Vega faced, particularly the cold and the length of time he had to endure it, were
sufficient to violate the Eighth Amendment.
Summary judgment might still be proper, however, if Vega cannot show that
Defendants acted with deliberate indifference. Defendants argue that Godinez and Baldwin
lack sufficient personal involvement in the conditions of Vega’s confinement. The Court
agrees that there is no evidence that Godinez was personally involved in the conditions of
Vega’s confinement, that Vega ever relayed information about the conditions to him, or that
he had some other reason to know about the conditions. As to Baldwin, Vega has made clear
that he is retained in this suit for injunctive relief purposes only. Defendants do not squarely
address whether Harrington, Butler, Mueller, and Hasemeyer were personally involved in
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the deprivations. But the evidence reveals that Vega complained to each of them and, while
they may have said they would look into the matter, nothing was done to alleviate the
heating problem or hot water problem for months. Based on the lack of argument and the
record, summary judgment cannot be granted to Defendants Harrington, Butler, Mueller,
and Hasemeyer on Count 2.
In sum, judgment is granted in favor of Godinez on Count 2 and denied as to all other
C. Qualified Immunity
In light of the conclusion that some Defendants are not entitled to summary
judgment on Counts 1 and 2, the Court must consider their argument that they are protected
by qualified immunity.
“Generally, qualified immunity protects government agents from liability when their
actions do not violate ‘clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known.’” Hernandez v. Cook Cnty. Sheriff’s Office, 634 F.3d 906,
914 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Purvis v. Oest, 614 F.3d 713, 720 (7th Cir. 2010)). “It protects ‘all but
the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.’” Burritt v. Ditlefsen, 807
F.3d 239, 249 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986)). In
determining whether Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity, the Court must ask two
questions: (1) whether the facts, taken in the light most favorable to Vega, show that
Defendants violated a constitutional right; and (2) whether that constitutional right was
clearly established at the time of the alleged violation. Hernandez, 634 F.3d at 914 (citing
Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201-202 (2001)).
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The Court has already determined that Vega put forth evidence sufficient to establish
a genuine issue of fact as to whether his due process rights and his Eighth Amendment right
to constitutional conditions of confinement were violated. The only remaining issue is
whether those were clearly established. With respect to Count 1, “prison officials have been
on notice since Hewitt that periodic reviews of administrative segregation are
constitutionally required, and it is self-evident that they cannot be a sham.” Isby, 856 F.3d at
530 (citing Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460 (1983)). Prison officials have likewise been on notice
since Hewitt that inmates have certain due process rights relative to the initial placement
decision. Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 476. Consequently, Defendants are not entitled to qualified
immunity on Count 1. As for Count 2, it is well established that prisoners have a right to
adequate shelter, particularly protection from extreme cold. See, e.g., Dixon v. Godinez, 114
F.3d 640, 642 (7th Cir. 1997); Henderson v. DeRobertis, 940 F.2d 1055, 1059 (7th Cir. 1991).
Consequently, Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity on Count 2.
For the reasons set forth above, the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants on October 6, 2017 (Doc. 118) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Judgment is GRANTED in favor of Defendants Hasemeyer and Mueller on Count 1
and DENIED as to all other Defendants. Judgment is also GRANTED in favor of Defendant
Godinez on Count 2 and DENIED as to all other Defendants. Summary judgment is
DENIED on the issue of qualified immunity.
This matter shall proceed to trial on Count 1 for violation of due process against
Defendants Michael Atchison, Richard Harrington, Kimberly Butler, and S.A. Godinez and
on Count 2 for unconstitutional conditions of confinement against Michael Atchison,
Page 19 of 20
Richard Harrington, Kimberly Butler, Chad Hasemeyer, and Barbara Mueller. John Baldwin
will remain in this action only to perfect any injunctive relief that may be granted.
IT IS SO RECOMMENDED
DATED: March 6, 2018
NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL
United States District Judge
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