United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge
James Edward Grant, a former state of Wisconsin inmate
currently living in Madison, brings claims that defendant
prison officials used excessive force on him while they
escorted him to a disciplinary hearing, and that he was
sexually assaulted during a strip search while housed at the
Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI). Defendants have filed
a motion for summary judgment. After I ordered supplemental
briefing and gave Grant a chance to conform his proposed
findings of fact to this court's rules, see Dkt.
54, the motion for summary judgment is now fully briefed. I
conclude that there are disputed issues of material fact over
defendant Jeremy Gill's decision to use force against
Grant that need to be resolved at trial. I will grant summary
judgment to defendants on the remainder of Grant's
Plaintiff James Edward Grant is no longer in prison. The
events in question took place while Grant was incarcerated at
WCI. At that time, defendants Jeffrey Gill, Joseph Beahm,
Michael Lunde, Aaron Bedker, Todd Olig, and Justen Kitzman
were employed at WCI as correctional officers. Defendants
Gabriel Umentum, Derek Schouten, and Lukas Marwitz worked as
correctional sergeants. Defendant Jesse Schneider was a
lieutenant. Defendant Brian Greff was a corrections program
supervisor. Defendant Anthony Meli was the security director.
15, 2014, at about 2:00 p.m., Grant was scheduled to have
“due process hearings” on three conduct reports
he had received. None of the defendants were directly
involved in the events underlying those conduct reports.
says that on that morning, during the passing of breakfast
meals in the Restrictive Housing Unit, defendant Gill came to
Grant's cell and asked him, “[A]re you going to
your Due Process Hearing?” Grant said yes. Gill
responded, “Well you don't get breakfast
then.” Grant did not receive breakfast that day.
about 2:00 p.m., defendants Gill, Bedker, and Umentum came to
escort Grant to the hearing room. Grant says that Gill told
him, “If you look at me I will interpret that as a
threat to my safety.” Gill placed Grant into wrist
restraints and directed him to remain facing forward once his
cell door was opened. Grant did not say that the wrist
restraints were too tight.
the escort and following events is captured on the recording
made by Bedker. See Dkt. 43-1. Gill began escorting
Grant to the hearing room. Bedker recorded the escort.
Umentum followed behind by several feet. As soon as the
escort began, Grant started talking directly to the camera
making statements that defendants Beahm and Gill had broken
another inmate's thumb. Grant was told multiple times
during the escort by Gill to remain facing forward, because
he turned his head several times. He also accused Gill of
squeezing his arm too hard during the escort.
and Gill and entered the “due process room” where
the hearing would be held. They moved into the room, out of
the range of the camera held by Bedker, who was still
following. At this point, Gill says that Grant turned
his head to the left, which Gill took as a threat because he
thought that Grant was looking to see where Gill was so that
he could prepare an attack. Grant admits that he did not keep
his head forward, but he states that he looked down when Gill
grabbed Grant's hand to handcuff it to a ring inside the
hearing room. Gill then pushed Grant into the wall while
loudly telling him to continue facing forward. Gill says that
he “directed” Grant into the wall. Grant says
that Gill “threw” him into the wall.
happened as Umentum was walking into the room. It is unclear
from Umentum's declaration whether he saw Gill's use
of force. Umentum radioed for other security staff to respond
to the due process room in the Restrictive Housing Unit to
assist, and he requested that staff bring leg restraints.
Bedker entered the due process room about three or four
seconds after Gill.
Beahm and Schneider responded to Umentum's radio call.
Beahm applied leg restraints to Grant. Because of Grant's
reported non-compliance, Schneider decided to place Grant
into “control status” and for staff to escort
Grant to a strip cell for a strip search. Control status can
be used for segregation inmates who exhibit disruptive
behavior. If an inmate is placed into control status, the
inmate must undergo a strip search before he is placed in the
control cell. “Staff-assisted” strip searches, in
which a restrained inmate's body parts are manipulated by
prison officials, are used when an inmate has already
Grant was secured at the strip cell, Gill was relieved by
defendant Schouten. Gill had no involvement with the strip
search. A nurse checked Grant's complaint of injuries:
she stated that he had no markings on his right wrist, and
that she could fit three fingers in each ankle restraint. In
his deposition, Grant admits that he did not sustain any
physical injury from the events, although he does say that he
suffered pain in his jaw, and that the restraints or
defendants' actions hurt his wrists and ankles.
conducted the strip search. The parties agree that Umentum
secured one of Grant's arms during the search. They
disagree about whether defendants Schouten or Olig secured
the other arm. Defendants Greff and Lunde were also present
for at least part of the strip search but did not directly
take part. Defendants Marwitz and Kitzman were not present
for any of these events.
footage shows how Beahm conducted the strip search. Grant
remained handcuffed with his face toward the strip cage.
Beahm cut off Grant's clothes and had him kneel. Beahm
used bladed hands to lift Grant's scrotum and spread
Grant's buttocks. Beahm also inspected Grant's mouth,
hair, ears, fingers, armpits, feet, and toes. Beahm found no
contraband. Grant's midsection was wrapped in a towel and
he was taken to his cell. He did not appear at his due
gave Grant a conduct report for disobeying orders during the
escort and for lying when he said that Beahm and Gill had
broken another inmate's thumb. Defendant Meli reviewed
the conduct report and allowed it to proceed as a major
brings claims that defendants retaliated against him, used
excessive force against him, and performed an unnecessary
strip search for the purpose of humiliating
succeed on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party
must show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and
that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “A genuine issue of material fact
arises only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving
party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that
party.” Brummett v. Sinclair Broad. Grp., Inc.
, 414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005). All reasonable
inferences from the facts in the summary judgment record must
be drawn in the nonmoving party's favor. Baron v.
City of Highland Park, 195 F.3d 333, 338 (7th Cir.
1999). If the nonmoving party fails to establish the
existence of an essential element on which that party will
bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment for the
moving party is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
operative complaint, Grant alleged that defendants violated
the Eighth Amendment by using excessive force against him at
several points during the events detailed above. “The
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain on a prisoner
violates his rights under the Eighth Amendment.”
Lewis v. Downey,581 F.3d 467, 475 (7th Cir. 2009)
(internal quotation omitted). To prevail on a claim of
excessive force against a correctional officer, a plaintiff
must prove that the officer applied force “maliciously
and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm,
” rather than “in a good faith effort to maintain
or restore discipline.” Hudson v. McMillian,503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992) (quoting Whitley v. Albers,475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986)). The factors relevant to this
determination include (1) why force was needed; (2) how much
force was used; (3) the ...