June 6, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois. No. 2:15-cv-02068 - Sara Darrow, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Kanne and Scudder, Circuit Judges.
Giles, an inmate at Jerome Combs Detention Center, was
punched and bitten when he tried to protect his cellmate from
a violent detainee's assault. Giles sued several
correctional officers, asserting that they failed to protect
him from the attack in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The
district court entered summary judgment for the defendants.
Because a reasonable jury would be required to find from the
undisputed evidence that the officers were not reckless, and
that they responded reasonably both to the risk of an attack
and the actual attack, we affirm the judgment.
is an appeal from the entry of summary judgment, we recount
the facts in the light most favorable to Giles, the
non-movant. See Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863
F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2017). Giles's attacker, Kendrick
Moore, had a history of violent interactions with inmates and
correctional staff at the Center. Although Moore at one point
was housed in segregation in a maximum-security area, he had
been placed on suicide watch shortly before the attack and
moved to the first floor of a general-population section of
the prison called "E-POD," where he could more
easily be monitored. While in E-POD, Moore stayed alone in
his cell and would be let out each day for only one hour,
when no other detainees were to be released from their cells.
October 8, 2014, this precautionary system failed. That day
the morning-shift guards, according to their log entry,
refused to let Moore out of his cell for his hour "due
to tension and repeated problems" with one of the
officers. A supervisor told the officers to let Moore out
later that day, and at 2:30 p.m. they did so. During the 3:00
p.m. shift change, Moore remained out of his cell and was
spotted by the incoming officers, Gabrielle Tobeck and
Matthew Meehan, who counted him as present during their
headcount. At roughly 3:15 p.m., Tobeck released the inmates
on E-POD's top tier. Four minutes later she (and Meehan)
noticed Moore saunter past her desk. She immediately ordered
Moore, who had been hiding in the showers until then, to
return to his cell and lock up. He responded "Okay
Tobeck" and continued walking toward his cell, which was
also in the direction of the staircase. But seconds later he
sprinted up the stairs to the second floor, where Giles
shared a cell with Robert Scott. Moore begin pummeling Scott
outside of their cell. Giles, fearing that Moore was about to
throw his cellmate over the second-floor railing, tried to
ward him off.
seeing Moore bound up the stairs, Meehan ordered the other
inmates in the dayroom to steer clear of the fight. Tobeck,
in the meantime, radioed for back-up. Officer Nicholas Mayo
responded first, and within a minute he and another officer
were let into E-POD by Tobeck . The two officers and Meehan
darted up the stairs and for twenty seconds shouted at the
inmates: "Stop it. Lay down. Cuff up." Giles
quickly acceded to being handcuffed by Mayo before Moore (who
was resisting Meehan) lunged at the restrained Giles and
began biting his arm. While Moore was attacking Giles, the
fourth officer removed Scott from the fight and brought him
downstairs in handcuffs. The officer returned to the second
floor along with several other officers who had just entered
E-POD. Among them was Corporal Alvon Brown, who subdued Moore
with a Taser. Within six minutes of the outbreak, the
officers had removed all three inmates from E-POD.
the attack Giles was taken to a hospital, where the staff
disinfected his arm, gave him an unspecified injection, and
wrapped the arm in bandages. Giles has two permanent scars
and asserts that he continues to feel pain and has suffered
anxiety attacks since the fight.
sued Tobeck, Meehan, and Mayo for recklessly failing to
prevent Moore's attack and being deliberately indifferent
to the attack once it broke out. The district court entered
summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that they all
had responded reasonably to the fight, and that Tobeck's
actions before the attack amounted, at most, to gross
contest summary judgment, Giles was required to produce
sufficient evidence for a rational jury to find that (1)
Moore presented an objectively serious risk of harm, and (2)a
defendant was deliberately indifferent to that risk, meaning
that he or she subjectively knew about the risk, and did not
take reasonable measures to abate it. See Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994); Dale v.
Poston, 548 F.3d 563, 569 (7th Cir. 2008).
accept that Moore presented a serious risk of harm and that
Giles produced sufficient evidence that the defendants each
knew of the risk. A prison official must respond reasonably
to a known risk of harm, but negligence or even gross
negligence is not enough to show a constitutional violation.
See Rosario v. Brawn, 670 F. 3 d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
2012). Instead the official's response must be so
inadequate that it amounts to a reckless disregard for the
risk, Fisher v. Lovejoy, 414 F.3d 659, 662 (7th Cir.
2005), and "effectively condones the attack."
Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 756 (7th Cir.
2010). That a response did not avert the risk does not mean
it was unreasonable, and the standard is always
"reasonableness in light of the surrounding
circumstances." Dale, 548 F.3d at 569.
first contends that Tobeck acted recklessly by allowing the
top-tier inmates out of their cells without first accounting
for Moore's whereabouts. But her opening the cell doors
prematurely was at worst negligence, not recklessness. At the
time Tobeck released the top-tier inmates, the risk of an
attack was not as apparent as it would become later, when she
ordered Moore to return to his cell. Though Tobeck admits
seeing Moore in the dayroom at the 3:00 p.m. headcount, she
had no reason then to infer that he presented a substantial
risk of harm to any other inmates. Moore was expected to be
out of his cell; he was scheduled for dayroom time between
2:30 and 3:30 p.m. This contrasts with Junior v.
Anderson, in which we reversed summary judgment in favor
of a prison guard who knew that the attacker's cell had
not locked properly-presenting a security risk-but let the
victim out anyway. 724 F.3d 812, 813-14 (7th Cir. 2013).
Tobeck should not have let out the second-floor inmates until
after Moore returned to his cell at 3:30 p.m., but nothing in
the record implies that her actions were deliberate,
malicious, or reckless rather than mistaken.
next contends that To beck, upon realizing her error in
releasing the second-floor inmates in Moore's presence,
failed to act reasonably to correct it. Though she ordered
Moore to lock himself up, Giles argues that this response was
insufficient and that the "only reasonable action"
was for her to ensure that Moore was escorted back to his
cell. Merely ordering Moore to lock up was reckless, he says,
because it put his fate in Moore's hands. He compares his
case to Mayoral v. Sheahan, in which we reversed
summary judgment for an officer who had let drunken inmates
out of their cells after a gang leader falsely promised to
"control 'his guys, '" 245 F.3d 934, 936
(7th Cir. 2001). We recognized ...