McIntosh v. United States

Decision Date12 April 2022
Docket Number19 C 50322
PartiesRodney Othel McIntosh, Plaintiff, v. United States of America. Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

IAIN D. JOHNSTON, United States District Judge.

In this pro se civil rights lawsuit brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Plaintiff Rodney McIntosh alleges he was assaulted and mentally tortured while housed in United States Penitentiary Thomson. Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has responded to the motion. For the reasons stated below Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a court “shall grant summary judgment 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); Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of “some alleged factual dispute between the parties, ” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986), or by “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material facts exists when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863 F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 508 (7th Cir. 1992).

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the party moving for summary judgment demonstrates the absence of a disputed issue of material fact, “the burden shifts to the non-moving party to provide evidence of specific facts creating a genuine dispute.” Carrol v. Lynch, 698 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2012). The non-movant must go beyond the pleadings and “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Hannemann v. Southern Door Cty Sch. Dist., 673 F.3d 746, 751 (7th Cir. 2012).

Additionally, the failure to exhaust administrative remedies and the legal justification for a battery claim are affirmative defenses, which defendant bears the burden of proof. Pyles v. Nwaobasi, 829 F.3d 860, 864 (7th Cir. 2016). The defendant meets that burden only if they show that no dispute of material fact exists and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Furthermore, the Court construes the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Hernandez v. Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 840 (7th Cir. 2016). If the movant bears the burden of proof at trial, it must make a showing sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party and must establish all elements of the claim or defense to warrant judgment as a matter of law. Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986). In that circumstance, the movant must come forward with evidence on each element that would require judgment as a matter of law if uncontroverted at trial. Houghton v. South, 965 F.2d 1532, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992).

The Court's role is “to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial, ” Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 656 (2014) (citations and quotations marks omitted), without “weigh[ing] evidence, mak[ing] credibility determinations, resolv[ing] factual disputes and swearing contests, or decid[ing] which inferences to draw from the facts.” Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). Thus, in making that determination, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

II. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 governs the procedures for filing and responding to motions for summary judgment in this Court. The rule is intended “to aid the district court, ‘which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information,' in determining whether a trial is necessary.” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted.)

Local Rule 56.1(a) requires the moving party to provide “a statement of material facts” as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue for trial. LR 56.1(a); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(1). The opposing party must then “file a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement” of fact. Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted); LR 56.1(b), (e). In the case of any disagreement, the opposing party must reference “specific evidentiary material that controverts the fact and must concisely explain how the cited material controverts the asserted fact.” LR 56.1(e)(3). [M]ere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material.” Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). “All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party.” Id. The nonmoving party may also present a separate statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment that consists of “concise numbered paragraphs” “supported by citation to the specific evidentiary material, including the specific page number, that supports it.” LR 56.1(b)(3), (d).

In this case, Defendant filed a LR 56.1 statement of material facts (Dk. 129) and memorandum of law (Dkt. 128). with their motion for summary judgment. Consistent with the local rules, Defendant also provided Plaintiff with a LR 56.2 Notice, which explains what LR 56.1 requires of a litigant opposing summary judgment. (Dkt. 127.)

Likewise, the Court explained in detail to Plaintiff summary judgment procedures and the requirements of Local Rule 56.1. Dkt. 125.

For his part, Plaintiff submitted a response to Defendant's LR 56.1 statement of facts (Dkt. 134.) In this response, Plaintiff includes several additional statements of fact that he contends are relevant to this case. (See Id., pg. 20.) Plaintiff submitted his own declaration of which present his arguments in opposition to summary judgment. (See Id., pg. 20.) In Plaintiff's declaration, he primarily disputes issues of fact relating to allegations that he spit and assaulted correctional officers, and that the surveillance video was edited. (See Id., pg. 5, 9.) Whether Plaintiff spit and assaulted correctional officers is subject to the Heck analysis below. Further, the Court has reviewed all video surveillance in their entirety and has observed no time lapses or indications that the videos were altered in any way. Plaintiff's speculation, not based on any admissible evidence, that the video recordings were altered is not sufficient to prevent summary judgment. See Hamer v. Neighborhood Hous. Servs., 897 F.3d 835, 841 (7th Cir. 2018); Austin v. Walgreen Co., 885 F.3d 1085, 1089 (7th Cir. 2018) (“Speculation does not defeat summary judgment.”). And, critically, in his deposition, Plaintiff repeatedly admitted the accuracy of the video recordings, an admission he cannot abandon now. See James v. Hale, 959 F.3d 307, 315-16 (7th Cir. 2020) (discussing sham-affidavit rule).

With the guidelines above in mind, the Court turns to the facts of this case, stating those facts as favorably to Plaintiffs as the record and LR 56.1 permit. See Hanners v. Trent, 674 F.3d 683, 691 (7th Cir. 2012).

III. Relevant Facts

At all relevant times, Plaintiff Rodney McIntosh was an inmate in the custody of the United States Penitentiary Thomson in the special management unit (“SMU”). (Dkt. 129, Defendant's Statement of Facts (“DSOF”), ¶¶ 1, 6.) The SMU is the Bureau of Prison's program for high security inmates who have a history of serious or disruptive disciplinary infractions, and the environment in the SMU is more restrictive than in general population housing. (DSOF, ¶¶ 6, 7.) Plaintiff, admittedly, has been disciplined for threatening a staff member and assaulting or attempting to assault a staff member “a lot, ” fighting with another inmate “maybe 50 times or half of that, ” possessing a weapon four times, and manipulating restraints while in Bureau of Prison custody. (DSOF, ¶ 4.) Inmates routinely change cells and, in doing so, are instructed to standstill for a pat-down search before being escorted to their new cells. (DSOF, ¶ 8.) At the time of the events at issue in this lawsuit, Lt. Brian Damm, Lt. Dennis Murton, Ofc. Kyle Maybury, Ofc. Eric Wolf, Ofc. Timothy Kirkpatrick, and Ofc. James Sturgill, and Lt. Randall Erskine all were correctional officers in the SMU. (DSOF, ¶¶ 2, 4, 5.)

On June 17, 2019, Plaintiff was informed by Lt. Damm that he and his cellmate would be changing cells to keep Plaintiff's cellmate separate from another inmate. (DSOF, ¶ 9; see also Dkt 130, Plaintiff's May 3, 2021 Deposition (“Pl. Dep.”), pg. 65: 157, 66: 159-160.) Officer Maybury removed Plaintiff from his cell and placed him on the wall for a pat-down search before being escorted to a new cell. (See Dkt. 131, Exhibit 2, Attachment 1(a), 6:55:10 p.m.) During the search, Plaintiff was given verbal commands to keep his body and head facing the wall while being searched. (DSOF, ¶ 15.) Plaintiff did not comply with Ofc. Maybury's verbal commands. (DSOF, ¶ 16.) During...

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