Court Grants Summary Judgment in Defendants’ Favor in Inmate’s Failure to Protect and Medical Care Case

June 27, 2017

Central District Judge Eric Long granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment in Whiteside v. County of Kankakee, et al., No. 16-2115. Plaintiff, a jail inmate, alleged that a correctional officer failed to protect him from an altercation with another inmate and that the jail nurse was deliberately indifferent to his injuries following the altercation. The plaintiff had a verbal argument with another inmate, Kenyada Clair, concerning the use of his tablet. The plaintiff admitted that he had not informed correctional staff about the argument or complained that he feared an attack. Sometime later, while the plaintiff was showering, Clair asked for a plunger to unclog his toilet. When his cell door was opened to give him a plunger, Clair pushed his way out of the cell, raced to the showers, and attacked the plaintiff. Officers arrived in the shower within 45-60 seconds of the attack and separated the inmates. The plaintiff suffered a laceration to his eye and was promptly treated by the nurse with steri-strips, ice and Tylenol. The next morning, he received eleven stitches and was later taken to the hospital for a CT scan.

The Court found that the officer’s actions in opening Clair’s cell door to hand him a plunger while the plaintiff was showering did not constitute a failure to protect him. The plaintiff admitted that he did not inform officers of any issues between Clair and him. The plaintiff argued that the officer should have known that Clair’s complaint of toilet backup was a ruse; however, the plaintiff acknowledged that the toilets often back up and that inmates requested plungers as often as twice a day.

The Court further found that the plaintiff’s laceration was not serious as it stopped bleeding on its own and healed without problems. Moreover, there was no evidence that the nurse was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff’s laceration, given her prompt treatment and follow up care, and the plaintiff admitted that he took steps to conceal the amount of blood because he did not want staples applied.

Michael Condon represented the correctional officer and nurse.

Whiteside v. County of Kankakee

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