Daniels v. Brown et al
ORDER denying 71 Motion for Reconsideration; denying 72 Motion for Order. Signed by Judge Stephen P. McGlynn on 4/27/2021. (jrj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Case No. 19-cv-01341-SPM
JOHN BALDWIN, and
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MCGLYNN, District Judge:
This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Reconsideration and a Motion for Order
filed by Plaintiff Darrian Daniels. (Docs. 71, 72). Defendants John Baldwin, Tyson Brown, and
Frank Lawrence filed a response. (Doc. 75). Daniels filed a reply brief. (Doc. 76). The Court held
a hearing on the motions on February 25, 2021, and heard testimony from Plaintiff Daniels and
Defendant Brown, as well as Edward Roberson, Marcellus Ottensmeier, and Caleb Zang. For the
following reasons, the motions are denied.
Plaintiff Darrian Daniels, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”)
who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), commenced this action
by filing a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that from September 5, 2019, through
November 2019, he was served contaminated food and denied meals. (Doc. 1). Following
preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Daniels is proceeding with
the following claims:
Eight Amendment claim of cruel and unusual punishment against
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Brown, Baldwin, and Lawrence for serving Daniels contaminated
food and denying him food.
First Amendment claim against Brown for retaliating against
Daniels for filing a lawsuit by serving him contaminated food and
denying him food.
Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment claiming that Daniels did not exhaust
his administrative remedies prior to initiating this lawsuit. On November 4, 2020, the Court held
an evidentiary hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment (“Pavey hearing”). See Pavey v.
Conley, 544 F. 3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008); (Docs. 48, 65). Daniels did not attend the hearing.
After contacting Menard, the Court was informed that following multiple attempts by staff to bring
Daniels to the videoconferencing room, Daniels was refusing to leave his cell and participate in
the hearing. The Court then allowed Defendants to present their arguments and ruled on the Motion
for Summary Judgment based on the briefings and the arguments presented. (Doc. 66). The Motion
for Summary Judgment was granted and judgment entered in favor of Defendants. (Docs. 66, 67).
After the case was closed, Daniels filed with the Court two notices, a Motion for
Reconsideration, and a Motion for Order claiming that he was prevented from attending the Pavey
hearing. (Docs. 68, 69, 71, 72). Daniels alleges that on November 4, 2020, Defendant Correctional
Officer Brown, who was working as the gallery officer in Gallery 2 in North 2 segregation where
Daniels is housed, came to Daniels’s cell and kicked and banged on the door. Brown held up a
note that read “you aint get[t]ing treatment for your hearing loss as long as you are in Menard and
fuck your court writ pass, you[‘re] burnt.” (Doc. 69, p. 1). Daniels claims that Brown was the only
staff member who came to his cell that morning to escort him to the Pavey hearing. He argues
Defendants prevented him from attending the hearing and that he did not refuse to participate.
Because of Brown, Daniels claims he was unable to demonstrate his credibility and present his
arguments and evidence showing that the administrative remedies were unavailable to him at
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Menard. Daniels asks the Court to reconsider the order granting summary judgment and the
judgment order, reopen the case, and set a new evidentiary hearing. In support of his argument,
Daniels asks the Court to order Defendants to produce the camera video footage from the morning
of November 4, 2020.
In response, Defendants affirm that Correctional Officer Brown was the gallery officer for
Gallery 2 in North 2 on November 4, 2020. (Doc. 75, p. 2). However, according to Brown, when
he arrived at Daniels’s cell to escort Daniels to the videoconferencing room, Daniels began yelling
that he did not want to be escorted by Brown. (Doc. 75-2, 1). Brown claims that he did not bang
on the cell or show Daniels a threatening note. (Id. at p. 2). When Daniels refused to be escorted
by Brown, Brown asserts that he then asked the gallery escort officer, Correctional Officer
Ottensmeier, to escort Daniels to the hearing. (Id. at p. 1). Daniels refused to also be escorted by
Officer Ottensmeier and stated he was not going to take his call pass for the hearing. In accordance
with procedure, the lieutenant and videoconference officer were informed. Defendants argue that
Daniels was not restricted from attending and participating in the hearing and chose not to be
escorted and participate. They also state that there is no video footage in existence for Daniels’s
cell the morning of November 4, 2020.
Although prison procedures require that a correctional officer fill out an incident report
when an inmate refuses to participate in a court hearing, Defendant Brown states that he did not
write one for Daniels’s refusal to participate in the Pavey hearing. (Doc. 75-1, p. 2). Brown claims
that in the afternoon of November 4, 2020, during a routine gallery tour, an inmate struck him in
the mouth and eyes with a liquid substance that smelled and looked like urine. As a result of this
incident, Brown had to write an incident report regarding what occurred, submit to blood labs for
occupational exposure, and complete a workman’s compensation packet. Because of this event
and the procedural process that followed, Brown forgot to write an incident report regarding
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Daniels’s refusal to be escorted to his hearing. (Id.).
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically authorize the filing of motions to
reconsider. Such motions are filed routinely, however, and they are construed either as Rule 59(e)
motions to alter/amend or Rule 60(b) motions for relief from judgment/order. The Court looks to
the substance of the motion to determine whether the motion should be analyzed under Rule 59(e)
or Rule 60(b). See Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F. 3d 489, 493 (7th Cir. 2008). Here, Daniels’s
argument is that the Court should reconsider the Order granting summary judgment because
Defendant Brown denied him the opportunity to present his arguments and demonstrate his
creditability at the Pavey hearing. (See Doc. 71, p. 10). The Seventh Circuit has stated that “[w]here
the moving party has been prevented from presenting the merits of his case by the conduct of
which he complains, Rule 60(b) relief is most appropriate.” Ervin v. Wilkinson, 701 F. 2d 59, 61
(7th Cir. 1983). Thus, the Court will assess the Motion under Rule 60(b).
Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3), “a court may set aside a judgment if a party engaged in ‘fraud
(whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing
party.’” Wickens v. Shell Oil Co., 620 F. 3d 747, 758 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P.
60(b)(3)). A party seeking relief under this Rule must prove by clear and convincing evidence that
“the party was prevented from fully and fairly presenting its case” as a result of the adverse party’s
conduct. Fields v. City of Chi., 981 F. 3d 534, 558 (7th Cir. 2020). See also Ervin v. Wilkinson,
701 F.2d 59, 61 (7th Cir. 1983). “It is well-established that Rule 60(b) relief is an extraordinary
remedy and is granted only in exceptional circumstances.” Wickens, 620 F. 3d at 759 (citations
omitted). See also United States v. 8136 S. Dobson St., Chi. Ill., 125 F.3d 1076, 1082 (7th Cir.
At the hearing, Daniels repeated his alleges as stated in his filings with the Court. He
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testified that on the morning of November 4, 2020, Defendant Correctional Officer Brown came
to his cell, banged on the door and window, and held up a threatening note. He stated that Brown
did not offer to escort him to the videoconferencing room. Daniels further testified that he is not
familiar with Correctional Officer Ottensmeier and that no other staff member, other than Brown,
came to his cell prior to the Pavey hearing.
In support of his allegations, Daniels stated that there are cameras outside his cell and
argued that the camera footage will support his claims and disprove Defendant Brown’s testimony.
Daniels pointed out that it is convenient for Defendants that there is not an incident report or
camera footage documenting the event.
Daniels also called fellow inmate, Edward Roberson, as a witness. Roberson was housed
in a cell two cells down from Daniels in segregation on the same side of the gallery on the morning
of November 4, 2020. Roberson testified that on the date of the hearing he was lying down in his
cell when he heard Brown talking loudly and banging. Roberson stated he then went to the cell
door. He heard Brown yelling that Daniels was not going to the court writ, and he saw Brown
holding up a piece of paper in a taunting manner. Roberson stated that after this interaction, Brown
walked away from the cell and that he did not see anyone else approach Daniels’s cell.
Defendant Brown told a different story. Brown testified that when he went to Daniels’s cell
to escort Daniels to the videoconferencing room, Daniels became belligerent and refused to go
with him. Brown asked Daniels if he would go to the videoconferencing room if escorted by
another officer, and Daniels answered yes. Brown then went and asked Correctional Officer
Ottensmeier to assist with transporting Daniels and when they returned to the cell, Daniels said he
was not going anywhere. Brown testified that the videoconference officer and the lieutenant were
then informed of the events. Brown’s testimony was corroborated by the testimony of Correctional
Officer Ottensmeier. Ottensmeier testified that he was working as an escort officer for Galleries 2
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and 4 on November 4, 2020, and in North 2 property when Brown came and informed him that
Daniels was refusing to leave his cell for a court pass. Brown asked Ottensmeier if he would help
escort Daniels from his cell. Ottensmeier testified he went to the cell to see if Daniels would come
with him, rather than Brown, and Daniels again refused.
Based on the testimony and the evidence before the Court, Daniels has not demonstrated
by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant Brown prevented him from attending the Pavey
hearing. The Court does not find Daniels’s version of events credible or supported by any evidence.
Given the layout of the cells and that the cells in segregation have solid doors with only a window
at eye level, Daniels’ witness, Roberson, could not have seen what he claims to have witnessed on
the morning of November 4, 2020. While Roberson testified that he heard Brown yell at Daniels
that Daniels was not going to the court writ, Roberson also stated that he was not sure if Daniels
spoke to Brown because speaking through the steal door is muffled, giving no context to the
comment alleged to have been made by Brown. Roberson’s statements that Brown spoke loudly
and yelled at Daniels also conflicts with Daniels’s own testimony that he did not have any
conversations with correctional officers prior to the Pavey hearing. At the hearing, Daniels asserted
twice that he does not have conversations through the cell door with staff because he is hard of
hearing and denied having a conversation with the officers that day. He stated that prison staff
communicate with him by holding up pieces of paper. At no point has Daniels asserted that Brown
yelled or attempted to speak to him when Brown came to the cell. (See Doc. 68, p. 3; Doc. 69, p.
1, Doc. 71, p. 6, Doc. 72, p. 2).
As for whether Brown returned to the cell with Correctional Officer Ottensmeier, Roberson
stated that he did not see anyone else approach the cell after Brown initially left the cell. However,
he also testified that he was unsure of how long he stood at his cell door looking through the
window and could not estimate a timeframe.
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Although Daniels argues that camera footage would prove his allegations, unfortunately,
such evidence does not exist. The Court inquired into the availability of any video relevant to this
particular incident and is satisfied by Lieutenant Zang’s affidavit and testimony that any relevant
video is no longer available. (See Doc. 75-4).
Other than his own accusations, Daniels has not presented any evidence showing that
Brown’s actions prevented him from fully and fairly presenting his case, and thus, he has not met
the clear and convincing standard required to set aside the judgment. Accordingly, the Motion for
Recondensation is denied. As there is no video footage for the area around Daniels’s cell on the
morning of November 4, 2020, the Motion for Order is also denied.
For the reasons stated above, the Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 71) and the Motion for
Order (Doc. 72) are DENIED. This case remains closed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: April 27, 2021
s/ Stephen P. McGlynn
STEPHEN P. MCGLYNN
United States District Judge
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