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Jackson v. Dix

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 16, 2018




         The plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights at the Racine Correctional Institution (“RCI”). Dkt. No. 1. The court screened the complaint and allowed the plaintiff to proceed with two claims: (1) that Morgan Dix retaliated against the plaintiff by giving him a conduct report after he complained about racial bias in the prison courtyard, and (2) that Teresa Wiegand failed to intervene to prevent Dix from retaliating against the plaintiff. Dkt. No. 7 at 7. The court now has before it the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 11. The court will grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment and will dismiss the case.

         I. FACTS[1]

         The plaintiff is an inmate at RCI. Dkt. No. 16 at ¶1. The defendants are correctional officers at RCI: Morgan Dix is a sergeant, id. at ¶2, and Teresa Wiegand is a unit supervisor, id. at ¶3.

         On September 27, 2016, Dix was in the Washington Unit courtyard monitoring inmates. Id. at ¶ 11. She saw two inmates walk beyond the boundary lines of the courtyard to talk to inmates in different areas. Id. at ¶¶12, 14. According to the plaintiff, both inmates were minorities: Anthony Miller identifies as Latino and Demarcus Johnson is black. Dkt. No. 20 at ¶¶12, 14. Dix ordered both inmates to go inside, as a sanction for entering a different prison area without staff permission in violation of the inmate handbook.[2] Dkt. No. 16 at ¶¶10, 13, 15. Inmate Miller went inside without incident. Id. at ¶13. Inmate Johnson wanted to argue at first, but agreed go to inside after Dix explained that she had just ordered another inmate to go inside for the same reason. Id. at ¶¶16, 17. The plaintiff was not involved in either conversation. See id. at ¶¶12, 13, 23.

         A moment later, Dix saw a white inmate sitting on a flower box at the edge of the boundary line. Id. at ¶¶19, 20. She ordered this inmate to move inside the boundary line of the courtyard. Id. at ¶22. She explains that she asked this inmate to move inside the boundary line (as opposed to sending him inside the building) because he was not all the way across the boundary line like the other two inmates. Id. The plaintiff noticed that inmate Johnson was going inside the building while the white inmate simply moved inside the boundary line. Id. at ¶¶24, 25. At this point, the plaintiff “butted in from the other side of the courtyard” to state that “she had to be equal.” Id.; see also Dkt. No. 20 at ¶25. The plaintiff and Dix dispute what each of them said during this interaction (including the general tone and volume of the conversation, see dkt no. 20 at ¶¶26-27), but both agree that the plaintiff intended to imply that Dix was acting racially biased. Dkt. Nos. 16 at ¶28; 20 at ¶28. Other inmates were in the courtyard and could see and hear the interaction between the plaintiff and Dix. Dkt. No. 16 at ¶25.

         Dix ordered the plaintiff to go inside immediately, and stated that she would call a supervisor and issue a conduct report for disrespect and disruptive actions. Id. at ¶¶29, 31, 38. The plaintiff responded by implying that he was going to file an inmate complaint about her racial bias. Id. at ¶33. Dix doesn't remember seeing the plaintiff pick up an inmate complaint form, nor does she know if the plaintiff actually filed an inmate complaint about her. Id. at ¶¶34, 35. She explains that inmate complaints are confidential under Wis. Admin. Code §DOC 310.16, and she has no other information on the matter. Id. at ¶36.

         Later that day, Dix issued Conduct Report #2906095 against the plaintiff for disrespect and disruptive conduct. Id. at ¶44. Dix explains that accusing prison staff of racism in front of other inmates is a serious allegation that could cause disruption at the institution and jeopardize her safety. Id. at ¶40. She also states that the plaintiff was yelling at her. Id. at ¶39. According to the plaintiff, he simply “spoke” to her but did not yell at her. Dkt. No. 20 at ¶25.

         Two days later, on September 29, 2016, Wiegand reviewed Conduct Report #2906095 as a “minor offense.”[3] Dkt. No. 16 at ¶45, 51. The plaintiff provided a statement that did not explain his actions, and the plaintiff did not describe how or why he was retaliated against. Id. at ¶¶53-, 54. Wiegand concluded that Dix's statement supported a finding that the plaintiff attempted to escalate the situation into a race issue by getting other inmates' attention in a negative and possibly volatile manner. Id. at ¶52. She issued a disposition of ten days' building confinement. Id. at ¶56.


         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         “The 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); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986); Ames v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 629 F.3d 665, 668 (7th Cir. 2011). “Material facts” are those under the applicable substantive law that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute over a “material fact” is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         A party asserting that a fact is or isn't disputed must support the assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). “An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to ...

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