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Wright v. Brito

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 11, 2019




         The plaintiff, who is representing himself, filed this complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Dkt. No. 1. The court allowed him to proceed on a Fourteenth Amendment claim that the defendants used excessive force against him, allegedly beating and sodomizing him. Dkt. No. 12. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 38. The plaintiff filed an objection/response to that motion, dkt. no. 51, as well as his own motion for summary judgment, dkt. no. 50. The court will deny the plaintiff's motion, grant the defendants' motion, and dismiss the case.


         Civil Local Rule 56(b)(2)(B) requires that a party who opposes a motion for summary judgment must, within thirty days of service of the summary judgment motion, file “a concise response to the moving party's statement of facts.” On October 17, 2017, the court issued its scheduling order; it attached to the order a copy of relevant local rules, including Civil Local Rule 56. Dkt. No. 25. On May 15, 2018, the court received a letter from the plaintiff, asking for information about the litigation process. Dkt. No. 37. The clerk's office responded by sending him a copy of the local rules-including Rule 56(b)(2)(B)-and a brochure with answers to frequently-asked questions. On May 21, 2018, the defendants filed their motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 38. They attached Civil L.R. 56 to the motion, as they were required to do in a case involving a pro se plaintiff, so the plaintiff received the rule a third time. Despite receiving the rule three times, the plaintiff did not respond to the defendants' proposed findings of fact. Accordingly, the court takes the facts from “Defendants' Proposed Findings of Fact in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment.” Dkt. No. 39. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)(2), the court will consider the defendants' proposed facts undisputed for the purposes of this motion.

         The plaintiff informed the court in the complaint that he is mentally ill. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. The complaint alleged that between May and August 2016, he was housed in the Milwaukee County Jail, in segregation-Pod 4-D room/cell #27. Id. at 2. (Pod 4D is “a housing unit within the Jail specific to inmates serving and/or pending discipline.” Dkt. No. 39 at ¶94.) The plaintiff alleged that during first shift, sometime between May 4 and May 17, 2016, the defendants came into the cell and beat him with closed fists and put an unknown object in his buttocks. Dkt. No. 1 at 2-3. The plaintiff asserted that because of his grief, he couldn't identify the exact date of this event, but he says that he reported it to Lt. Sobek and Lt. Hannah, and that he filed grievances “right away.” Id. The complaint also alleged that the plaintiff yelled the incident to a nurse outside his cell, and that a doctor heard it. 3.

         The defendants indicate that personnel in the sheriff's office first learned of the alleged incident when they received a one-page letter from the plaintiff, dated September 22, 2016 and addressed to Milwaukee County Fiscal Affairs. Dkt. No. 39 at ¶128. The plaintiff sent a second letter, this one addressed to the Milwaukee County Internal Affairs Division, on November 21, 2016. Id. at ¶129. Detective Larrel Lirette was assigned to investigate the claims contained in the letters. Id. at ¶130. Lirette interviewed the plaintiff on two separate occasions, but at that time (presumably the fall of 2016, a month or so before the plaintiff filed this complaint), he couldn't be specific about the date of the assault; he indicated only that it happened between January 1, 2016 and August 24, 2016. Id. at ¶131. Without a more definite time frame or substantiating details, Detective Lirette deemed the plaintiff's claims were unfounded. Id. at ¶132. It was a couple of months later, in the complaint he filed in January 2017, that the plaintiff narrowed the time frame to sometime between May 4 and May 17, 2016.

         The defendants were able to confirm that the plaintiff has been an inmate at the Milwaukee County Jail at various times over the years, id. ¶1, and that he was incarcerated there between January 1 and August 23, 2016, id. ¶3. Both defendants-Brito and Ramsey-Guy-worked at the jail as corrections officers during that time. Id. at ¶¶20, 30. The two individuals the plaintiff indicates he informed about the incident-Capt. Sobek and (then) Lt. Hannah-also worked at the jail during that time. Id. at ¶¶46, 51-52.

         At his deposition, the plaintiff testified that the alleged assault happened while Brito and Ramsey-Guy “worked together on a regular shift in 4D, after lunch was served but before shift change.” Id. at ¶136. Between May 4 and May 17, 2016-the time frame the plaintiff identified in the complaint-both Brito and Ramsey-Guy were assigned to work in Pod 4D on only one day: first shift on May 8, 2016. Id. at ¶59. Brito worked from 6:30 a.m. to 2:24 p.m., “leaving the pod at various times throughout his shift to escort inmates and respond to urgent matters within the Jail.” Id. at ¶60. Ramsey-Guy worked from 6:30 a.m. to 2:01 p.m. (he used personal time to leave before the 2:30 close of the shift), also leaving the pod at times for other duties. Id. at ¶¶61-62. Lunch ended at 1:03 p.m., and at that time, Ramsey-Guy took the inmate workers who'd helped with lunch service back to Pod 3D. Id. at ¶¶76-77. This would have taken him about fifteen minutes. Id. at ¶78.

         The plaintiff testified at his deposition that Brito and Ramsey-Guy were working on pod 4D “by themselves” at the time of the alleged assault. Id. at ¶137. But there was someone else working in Pod 4D during first shift that day-corrections officer LeCarlin Collins. Id. at ¶¶44, 65. Collins worked on the pod from around 6:30 a.m. until 2:24 p.m., with Brito and Ramsey-Guy. Id. at ¶65. For either Brito or Ramsey-Guy to have gotten into the plaintiff's cell, Collins would have had to unlock the cell door from his desk; he did not do so. Id. at ¶71. Collins was at his post all day except for bathroom breaks and lunch, and did not see the defendants assault or harm the plaintiff (on that or any other day). Id. at ¶73. He did not see Brito and Ramsey-Guy enter the plaintiff's cell alone “at any time in 2016.” Id. at ¶75.

         In fact, during the time of the alleged event, the plaintiff “was required to be moved by two officers and one supervisor due to his tendency to fight and resist officers.” Id. at ¶14. The defendants describe the plaintiff as “a large, aggressive, unpredictable and manipulative individual.” Id. at ¶15. For an officer to go into the plaintiff's cell with only one other officer was considered a security risk; three staff members were required to be present, and often there were more. Id. at ¶¶16-17. Even with three officers, the defendants indicate that it was hard to move the plaintiff. Id. at ¶19.

         The plaintiff indicated in the complaint that he reported the alleged assault to Sobek and Hannah. But neither Sobek nor Hannah were working at the jail on May 8, 2016. Id. at ¶79.

         The plaintiff testified at his deposition that he was wearing a “turtle suit” at the time the alleged assault took place. Id. at ¶139. Inmates who are on suicide watch must wear a green, protective gown that helps protect them from hurting themselves; inmates sometimes call this a “turtle suit.” Id. at ¶12. The plaintiff was not on suicide watch in May 2016, so he would not have been wearing a “turtle suit” on May 8, 2016. Id. at ¶¶11, 13.

         The complaint indicated that the plaintiff filed grievances about the alleged assault “right away.” After the plaintiff filed the complaint, the jail searched all the plaintiff's grievances, “but did not locate any grievance submitted by [the plaintiff] between May 2016 and August 2016 claiming that he had been sodomized and assaulted by Officers Brito and Ramsey-Guy.” Id. at ¶133. The plaintiff testified at his deposition that he kept copies of all the grievances he had written, but the defendants indicate that he produced only one grievance, from December 2016-months after the date of the alleged incident. Id. at ¶134.

         Both defendants deny ever physically or sexually assaulting the plaintiff. Id. at ¶¶24, 25, 35 and 36. They deny ever using excessive force or engaging in sexual misconduct against inmates in general. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ22, 33. Other than the investigation prison officials conducted into the plaintiff's allegations in his complaint in this case, neither Brito nor ...

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