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Jackson v. Graves

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

January 20, 2017

ANDRE JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID GRAVES, et al ., Defendants.

          AMENDED DECISION AND ORDER GRANTINGDEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. NO. 39) AND DISMISSING THE CASE

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Andre Jackson, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed an action under 42 U.S.C §1983, alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights at the Walworth County Jail. Dkt. No. 10. The court screened the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A, and allowed the plaintiff to proceed with two Monell claims: (1) an equal protection claim against Walworth County and Walworth County Sherriff David Graves; and (2) a failure-to-train claim against Walworth County. Dkt. No. 13.

         The defendants filed their motion for summary judgment on May 6, 2016, dkt. no. 39; the plaintiff responded on September 8, 2016, dkt. no. 51; and the defendants replied on September 20, 2016, dkt. no. 53. This decision and order resolves the motion.

         I. FACTS [1]

         A. Parties

         The plaintiff is an African American male who was confined at the Walworth County Jail during the events described in the complaint. Dkt. No. 40, ¶ 1. The defendants are Walworth County and Walworth County Sherriff David Graves. Dkt. No. 10.

         B. The Plaintiff's Allegations

         On August 20, 2014, the plaintiff and a Caucasian inmate, Michael Steffen, engaged in a verbal altercation. Dkt. No. 40, ¶¶ 2-3. Correctional Officer Roger Millard heard the commotion, and observed the plaintiff yelling, swearing, and moving aggressively towards Steffen. Id., ¶¶ 5-7, 9. Millard also observed Steffen backing away from the plaintiff in what appeared to be an attempt to exit the situation. Id., ¶ 8. Millard believed that the verbal altercation could escalate into a physical altercation, so he called in for assistance. Id., ¶ 10.

         Additional correctional officers arrived on the scene before the inmates engaged in any physical contact. Id., ¶11. The correctional officers separated the two inmates. Id., ¶¶ 12-13. They placed the plaintiff in handcuffs and took him to non-disciplinary administrative segregation. Dkt. No. 52, ¶ 14. They placed Steffen in general population. Dkt. No. 40, ¶ 15.

         Millard wrote an incident report on the verbal altercation, which stated that he observed the plaintiff advancing toward Steffen and Steffen backing away. Id., ¶20; Millard Aff., ¶ 14. The report also stated that Millard interviewed other inmates who witnessed the incident, and that the inmates stated that Steffen was “needling” the plaintiff over a TV set, that Steffen kept “egging” the plaintiff until the plaintiff lost his cool, and that Steffen “made it appear he was not the instigator.” Id. Millard wrote in his report that “Steffen played a significant part in the disturbance.” Id.

         Correctional Sergeant Greg Sawtelle conducted the disciplinary hearings for both inmates. Dkt. No. 40, ¶¶ 22-23. After reviewing the incident reports, he sentenced both inmates to “5 days full sanction, stayed for 90 days.” Id., ¶ 26; see Dkt. No. 45-1; see Dkt. No. 45-2.

         The plaintiff alleges that he “received a harsher punishment” than Steffen because he is an African American. Dkt. No. 51 at 2. He states that the “harsher punishment” consisted of prison staff placing him in handcuffs, taking him to non-disciplinary administrative segregation for five days, returning him to general population for thirty days, and failing to give him a hearing until September 3, 2014. Dkt. No. 52., ¶ 21. He alleges that, in contrast, the prison staff did not handcuff Steffen, gave him a hearing the day after the incident, and allowed him to participate in Huber/work release the day after the incident. Id.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Summary ...


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