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Locke v. Beth

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 8, 2019

ADAM A. LOCKE, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID BETH, LT. KLINKHAMMER, and CO BEDFORD, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Plaintiff Adam A. Locke, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence at Leavenworth U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated while in custody at the Kenosha County Detention Center (KCDC). In particular, he asserts that, while he was incarcerated at KCDC from June 12, 2017, to January 23, 2018, Correctional Officer Bedford sexually harassed him and rubbed his erect penis on Locke's buttocks and grinded on him several times during a pat-down. He also alleges Sheriff Beth and Lieutenant Klinkhammer failed to intervene and protect him from Bedford's harassment. Presently before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted and the case will be dismissed.

         PRELIMINARY MATTERS

         Before turning to the substance of the parties' arguments, the court must address two preliminary matters. First, the defendants argue that their proposed findings of fact must be deemed admitted as uncontroverted for the purposes of summary judgment because Locke failed to properly respond to them in accordance with Civil Local Rule 56. Pursuant to the local rules, along with the motion for summary judgment, the moving party is required to file either a statement of material facts to which the parties have stipulated or a statement of proposed material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no material issue and that entitle it to judgment as a matter of law. Civil L.R. 56(b)(1). The statement of proposed findings of fact is comprised of numbered paragraphs containing short factual statements and specific references to affidavits, declarations, parts of the record, and other supporting materials. Civil L.R. 56(b)(1)(C). The defendants in this case submitted proposed findings of fact in support of their motion for summary judgment in compliance with the local rules. ECF No. 65.

         The party opposing the motion must file a response to the moving party's statement of undisputed facts which is intended to make clear which, if any, of those facts are in dispute, and to set forth any additional facts that bear on the motion. The opposing party's response must reproduce each numbered paragraph of the moving party's statement of facts followed by a response to each paragraph. Civil L.R. 56(b)(2)(B). If the fact is disputed, the party must include a specific reference to an affidavit, declaration, or other part of the record that supports the claim that a genuine dispute exists as to the fact stated by the moving party. Id. If the opposing party believes there are additional facts that prevent the entry of summary judgment, he should include a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs that set forth each additional fact and include references to the affidavits, declarations, or other parts of the record that support the assertion. Civil L.R. 56(b)(2)(B)(ii). The defendants, as required by this court's local rules, included a copy of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, Civil Local Rule 7, and Civil Local Rule 56 in their motion for summary judgment. Rather than respond to the defendants' proposed findings of fact, Locke submitted his own proposed findings of fact, but failed to explicitly cite to evidence supporting his proposed findings, in violation of this court's local rules.

         The Seventh Circuit has made clear that a “district court is not required to ‘wade through improper denials and legal argument in search of a genuinely disputed fact.'” Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000)). In this case, Locke received proper notice detailing how to respond to the defendants' proposed findings of fact in compliance with this court's local rules. As a result, the court will deem the defendants' proposed findings of fact admitted for the purposes of summary judgment, as no proper response has been provided, and will not consider Locke's additional facts because they do not comply with the local rules. Civil L.R. 56(b)(4) (E.D. Wis.); see also Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994) (“We have . . . repeatedly upheld the strict enforcement of [local] rules, sustaining the entry of summary judgment when the non-movant has failed to submit a factual statement in the form called for by the pertinent rule and thereby conceded the movant's version of the facts.”); Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005) (“A district court does not abuse its discretion when, in imposing a penalty for a litigant's non-compliance with [the local rules], the court chooses to ignore and not consider the additional facts that a litigant has proposed.”).

         Second, the defendants request that the court strike Locke's response brief for exceeding the page limits set forth in the local rules. Locke's response brief is forty-three pages long, which exceeds the thirty-page limit prescribed in the local rules. See Civil L.R. 56(b)(8)(A). Locke did not seek prior approval of the court for exceeding the page limit in his brief. Although the court will consider Locke's brief in its entirety in this case, the rule will be enforced as to future filings. With these considerations in mind, the court now turns to the instant motion.

         BACKGROUND

         At all times relevant to this case, Locke was incarcerated at KCDC from June 12, 2017, through January 23, 2018. Defs.' Proposed Findings of Fact (DPFOF) ¶ 1, ECF No. 65. His cell was located in the H-East housing unit. Locke asserts that Bedford sexually harassed him from July 2017 through January 2018 and conducted an inappropriate pat-search sometime between August and October 2017.

         On January 2, 2018, Locke submitted a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) grievance concerning the alleged verbal sexual harassment and improper search conducted by Bedford sometime between August 2017 and October 2017. Id. at ¶¶ 4-5. Corporal James Parker received the PREA grievance on January 3, 2018, and immediately investigated the allegations. Id. at ¶ 6. That same day, Parker interviewed Locke about his complaints and went through a PREA checklist with him. Id. at ¶ 8. During the interview, Parker asked Locke if he could narrow down the timeframe of the alleged pat-search incident. Locke indicated that the inappropriate pat-search occurred between August 2017 and October 2017 but could not be more specific. He reported that the pat-search took place as inmates returned from their evening meal while Bedford worked as a dorm officer in the H-South unit and occurred in the H-South vestibule, the small area between H-East, H-West, and the officer's station. Locke alleges that Bedford randomly picked him along with three other inmates to pat-search but has not identified those other inmates. Locke stated that, during the pat-search, Locke felt Bedford's erect penis go into his buttocks and felt Bedford grind against him. Although he could not identify any witnesses of the incident, Locke believed that the pat-down occurred within clear view of the security camera.

         Locke also reported to Parker that Bedford sexually harassed him from early July 2017 through January 3, 2018. He claimed that Bedford made sexual comments about sex with women, going to bars, pulling money from his pocket and showing it to inmates, and sexual gestures regarding women. Parker asked Locke if Bedford ever engaged in a sexual act, made sexual advances on him, displayed his genitals, or demanded that Locke touch him or expose himself. Locke denied that Bedford engaged in this conduct, with the exception of the pat-search.

         Parker also asked Locke if he wanted to see a clinician or mental health counselor, and Locke expressed an interest in doing so. But when given the opportunity to see a mental health counselor on January 4, 2018, Locke refused to see the counselor because he did not feel comfortable speaking to a male counselor about the events.

         After the interview, Parker used the detention center's scheduling program to obtain the exact dates that Bedford worked in H-South as a dorm officer between August and October 2017. These dates included August 16, 17, 18, 23, and 28; September 5, 7, 10, 18, 20, and 24; and October 6, 7, 9, 13, 15, 20, 22, 25, and 27. Id. at ¶ 22. Parker reviewed the security camera footage for each of these dates. The security camera does not capture sound. None of the footage showed Bedford conducting a pat-search of Locke or Bedford dancing in front of Locke's cell and flashing money. Parker concluded that Locke's PREA allegations were unfounded.

         Bedford denies that he conducted an inappropriate pat-search of Locke. He has worked at the KCDC for approximately 17 years. As a result, he is familiar with many inmates who are repeatedly incarcerated or incarcerated for extended periods of time. Bedford maintains that he strives to build and maintain a good rapport with inmates and engages in conversations that may include “colorful” or “street” language to better relate to some inmates and create trust. He acknowledges that most of the comments he made containing “colorful” or “street” language occurred in the dining hall or in front of Locke's cell to a group of inmates, so Locke may have overheard the conversations. But Bedford never directed any of these conversations directly at Locke; never discussed any specifics regarding his sexual exploits with other women, paying for sex, the size ...


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