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Jones v. Swenson

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 27, 2016

MICHAEL J. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD SWENSEN, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Michael J. Jones, a prisoner incarcerated at the Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI), brings claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, contending that defendant correctional officer Ronald Swensen retaliated and discriminated against him for filing an inmate grievance by either encouraging other inmates to threaten him or turning a blind eye to the inmates' threats. Swensen has filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 48. Although Jones did not file his response to Swensen's motion on time, I extended the deadline for his response. See Dkt. 61. Jones responded to Swensen's motion, but he has also filed a motion to compel Swensen to produce certain documents, and a motion for the court's assistance in recruiting counsel. Dkt. 62.

         I will deny Jones's motions and grant Swensen summary judgment. Jones does not explain how Swensen violated the rules of discovery, nor does he seek documents that are relevant. Jones has shown that he has the ability to litigate his claims, but he presents only thin and conclusory proposed findings of fact that are insufficient to withstand summary judgment.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are drawn from the verified amended complaint and the parties' summary judgment materials, and are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

         Plaintiff Michael J. Jones is an inmate confined at CCI, a maximum-security prison in Portage, Wisconsin. At CCI, Jones has been continuously housed in either DS-1 or DS-2, which are segregation units. Defendant Ronald Swensen is a correctional officer who has worked in DS-1 and DS-2.

         Jones has been diagnosed with various mental conditions, which include persecutory-type delusional disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and depressive disorder. Defendant says that Jones also has a documented history of exaggerating his mental health issues for secondary gain: placement in “SMU, ” a housing unit within CCI that provides activity-based programs for inmates with serious mental illnesses or those with severe impairments.

         In May and June 2013, Jones filed a series of inmate complaints, claiming that other inmates violated his privacy by hearing his thoughts and “seeing through his eyes.” He also claimed that staff knew what was going on and harassed him about the size of his penis. In at least one of these complaints, Jones identified defendant Swensen as one of the staff members harassing him.

         Swensen says that Jones never told him that he filed an inmate grievance against him. But in his verified amended complaint, Jones says that Swensen told him, “You'll pay for telling on me.” Dkt. 13, at 3. Jones also said that other inmates told him “your getting your ass kicked for suing.” Id.

         Five months later, Swensen filed his complaint in this case, asserting a wide range of claims. Dkt. 1. I dismissed all claims except two: a retaliation claim and an equal protection claim. For his retaliation claim, Jones alleges that that he filed an inmate complaint against Swensen, and Swensen retaliated against him by either (1) encouraging other inmates to threaten him or (2) turning a blind eye to the other inmates' threats. As for the equal protection claim, Jones alleges that this same retaliation was based on either his race or gender.

         Swensen denies that he has ever encouraged other inmates to threaten Jones or ever knowing that other inmates have threatened Jones. And Swensen states that even if the other inmates did in fact threaten Jones, had he known about those threats, he would have taken steps to stop that behavior by means such as reporting it to a supervisor or writing a disciplinary conduct report.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Jones's motion to compel

         Jones filed a one-page letter that I will construe as including a motion to compel the production of documents. Dkt. 62. The letter states that Swensen “refuses to turn over the discovery questions that [Jones is] requesting[.]” Id. It also states that Swensen is ‚Äúrefusing to send [Jones] the police record, criminal history, inmate write ups, internal rules and policies the defendant signed to become an officer, any threats or sexual harassment ...


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