Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Conrad v. Dunahay

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

February 11, 2019




         Pro se plaintiffs Chad J. Conrad and Jeffrey A. Schultz are Wisconsin state prisoners. They are proceeding on class-of-one (or in this case, class-of-two) equal protection claims concerning the confiscation of their musical instrument accessories by defendants, Wisconsin Department of Corrections officers at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI). Conrad also asserts a First Amendment retaliation claim against defendant Leroy Dunahay, Jr. for disposing of some of Conrad's guitar parts and denying him a pair of prescription eyeglasses in retaliation for his confiscation-related complaints.

         Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment on all of plaintiffs' claims. Dkt. 84. After considering the parties' briefs and supporting evidence, I will grant defendants' motion because Conrad and Schultz fail to present evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that defendants lacked a rational basis for confiscating their music hobby property. I will also grant defendants' motion on Conrad's retaliation claim because Conrad has failed to present evidence that any of Dunahay's actions were in any way motivated by Conrad's protected activity.


         The following facts are undisputed unless noted otherwise.

         A. Confiscation of plaintiffs' guitar accessories

         Over their years in the Wisconsin state prison system, plaintiffs accumulated electric guitars and related accessories. Conrad acquired an electric guitar, a guitar processor, a foot pedal and AC adaptor, a drum machine, and various guitar cables, patch cords, and gig bags. Schultz acquired an electric guitar, a guitar processor, and other related equipment. In 2007, DOC's Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) changed its music-hobby-property policy by limiting the types of instruments inmates can possess to acoustic guitars, harmonicas, and electronic keyboards. See Dkt. 85-5, at 3 (DAI Policy 309.36.01(III)). But the policy included a grandfather clause permitting inmates to retain musical instruments and “required accessories” if that property was acquired prior to July 2007. See Id. at 6-7 (DAI Policy 309.36.01(VII)(A)).

         In June 2015, Conrad was transferred to JCI from Stanley Correctional Institution with his musical hobby property. Defendant Nicholas Klimpke, a correctional officer who was serving as JCI's intake property officer at the time, allowed Conrad to keep his electric guitar but denied him his accessories and equipment. The parties dispute how Klimpke explained this decision to Conrad. Conrad says that Klimpke told him that he and the property sergeant, defendant Leroy Dunahay, had decided to confiscate Conrad's property because of an altercation that Conrad had had with the security director at Stanley Correctional Institution. See Dkt. 103, ¶¶ 10, 13. (Conrad provides no further detail about the nature of this altercation.) Defendants say that Dunahay was not involved in the decision to deny Conrad his property, and that Klimpke's decision was motivated by his belief that the items in question were not “required accessories” permitted under the grandfather clause. Dkt. 88, ¶¶ 6, 8. They say that Klimpke's interpretation was consistent with the understanding of JCI's Institution Complaint Examiner (ICE), who had been told in 2011 by the ICE at a different correctional institution that electric guitar processors were not required to play the electric guitar. Dkt. 107, ¶¶ 10-13; Dkt. 85-8 (email exchange between the ICEs). Conrad filed numerous complaints challenging the denial, including a state court writ of certiorari, all of which were unsuccessful.

         Schultz had a similar experience after he was transferred to JCI. In September 2016, he was told by Klimpke that he would be allowed to keep his electric guitar but not his processor, as it was not deemed a “required accessory” for the guitar. Dkt. 94, ¶ 10. Schultz challenged the denial administratively and with a writ of certiorari in Dane County Circuit Court. He ultimately prevailed in the circuit court and JCI returned his processor to him.

         B. Alleged retaliation by Dunahay

         Plaintiff Conrad also brings First Amendment retaliation claims against Dunahay based on his allegation that Dunahay disposed of some of his confiscated guitar parts and denied him prescription eyeglasses as punishment for filing complaints and a state court lawsuit about the confiscation of his music hobby property. The parties dispute many of the related facts.

         First is the matter of the lost guitar parts. Defendants say that after Conrad's music hobby property was confiscated, Dunahay met with Conrad so that Conrad could decide how he wanted the confiscated property to be handled. According to Dunahay, Conrad told him that he had no use for certain old guitar parts that he had replaced before coming to JCI, so he asked Dunahay to dispose of them. Dkt. 107, ¶ 25. Conrad denies that this meeting ever took place and says that he never communicated, verbally or otherwise, that Dunahay had permission to dispose of his property. Id. ¶¶ 22, 25. But it is undisputed that Dunahay disposed of those guitar parts, and that JCI later partially reimbursed Conrad for them after it could not find documentation showing that Conrad had requested their disposal. Id. ¶ 27.

         Second is the matter of the prescription eyeglasses. It is undisputed that Dunahay denied Conrad a pair of prescription eyeglasses that he ordered in 2016, explaining on the denial form that they were “not allowed per security director.” Id. ΒΆ 29. The motive for the denial is disputed. Dunahay says that he and the security director were concerned about the glasses because they were designed to rest on the forehead in a way that could impede the effective use of a chemical agent. Conrad says that Dunahay's explanation is pretextual, and that ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.