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McCoy v. Gore

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

December 14, 2017

KEITH MCCOY, Plaintiff,
v.
NIECEY GORE, MR. ATTHENTON, Y. HOGAN, MS. PIERSON, and JOSE MENCHACA Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PHILIP P. SIMON, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This case has had a long and complex history. To sum it up, pro se Plaintiff Keith McCoy brought this action against several employees of Lake County Jail regarding McCoy's treatment while held as a pretrial detainee. In McCoy's own words, McCoy is a gay man who identifies as a woman, DE 1 at 5, and has used feminine pronouns to refer to herself in her filings. As such, I also have used feminine pronouns to refer to her in the past and continue to do so today. After a very long process of repeated amendments to the complaint, we are left with two claims against five defendants. The first claim relates to the supposed misclassification of McCoy when she originally was brought into the Lake County Jail. McCoy was assigned to the administrative segregation on the medical floor rather than general population by Defendants Niecey Gore and Jose Menchaca, and it is this classification that McCoy says was unnecessary and punitive. The second claim arises from an incident involving a fight between McCoy and another inmate during which McCoy alleges she was stabbed several times and Defendants Michael Atherton, Curtis Pearson, and Yvonne Hogan-Foster (“Hogan”) were deliberately indifferent to her need for medical attention. All five defendants and McCoy moved for summary judgment on all claims. Based on the evidence presented to me by the Defendants on summary judgment, and the lack of evidence presented to me by McCoy, there appears to be no genuine issue of material fact in this matter. Because the classification of McCoy was not done in a punitive way and because there is no evidence that the Defendants ignored McCoy's injuries after the fight, summary judgment will be granted.

         Background

         This case arises out of McCoy's pre-trial detention at Lake County Jail during the period of September 2012 to October 2012. McCoy was incarcerated, booked into the Lake County Jail, and classified as a pretrial detainee on September 20, 2012. [DE 126-1 at 2.] Defendant Jose Menchaca personally classified McCoy and placed her in administrative segregation on the medical floor of the jail purportedly to protect her from other inmates preying on her and from her potentially preying on other inmates due to McCoy's sexual orientation. [Id.] McCoy has presented no evidence to the contrary and asserts only that she was “cleared” by medical staff because she is not transgender and was initially placed and assigned to general population and then approximately an hour or two later reclassified to administrative segregation on the medical floor. [DE 130 at 1.] McCoy presents no evidence that the reclassification was punitive in nature or for a reason other than McCoy's protection and the protection of the other inmates, as Menchaca asserts.

         On October 25, 2012, McCoy was involved in a fight with another inmate at the Lake County Jail. [DE 128-1.] Defendant Atherton was one of the officers who responded to the fight and completed a Jail Log for the incident. [DE 127-2 at 3.] According to the log, when Atherton entered the room in which the inmates were fighting, McCoy had blood on her clothes and the other inmate had a cut over his left eye that was bleeding. [Id.] There was a broken broomstick on the floor that was dropped by both inmates. McCoy was examined and found to have no visible injuries to her person and the blood on her uniform was from the other inmate's cut. [Id.]

         After the incident, the officers reviewed security camera footage of the fight and noted that McCoy threw the first punch and the other inmate returned several punches. [Id. at 3-4.] The other inmate then grabbed a broomstick and threw it at McCoy, who picked it up and struck the other inmate in the face causing the cut above his left eye. [Id. at 4.] The other inmate then grabbed a broken piece of the broomstick and attempted to strike McCoy, but was subdued by McCoy. [Id.]

         McCoy claims that she actually was stabbed in the leg several times during the fight and was treated by medical staff, who gave her a shot, cleaned her wound, and applied bandaids. [DE 130 at 2-3.] McCoy cites to exhibits in support of this, but nothing was attached to her motion for summary judgment. Notably, McCoy's argument contradicts her allegations in her complaint that she did not receive any treatment for a day or two. [DE 13 at 67-72.]

         Discussion

         All five Defendants moved for summary judgment and McCoy also moved for summary judgment. Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute about a material fact exists only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A nonmoving party is not entitled to the benefit of “inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture.” Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 539 F.3d 724, 732 (7th Cir. 2008) (citations and quotations omitted).

         I will first quickly address McCoy's response to the Defendants' motions for summary judgment, raising only the issue of their timeliness. [DE 133.] All dispositive motions were to be filed no later than September 5, 2017. [DE 118.] All five Defendants filed their motions for summary judgment on that date. As such, they are timely.

         The first three Defendants' motions for summary judgment are pretty straightforward and require little discussion. Based on the evidence that has been submitted, there is simply nothing to show that these Defendants were at all involved in either incident at issue in this case. Let's start with Defendant Pearson's motion for summary judgment. [DE 124.] According to Pearson's affidavit filed with his motion for summary judgment, his employment as a Correctional Officer at the Lake County Jail did not begin until 2014. [DE 124-2.] As such, he could not have been involved in either incident upon which this action is based. McCoy does not contest this fact or present any evidence to the contrary. As such, there is no genuine dispute about a material fact regarding the claim against Pearson and his motion for summary judgment is granted.

         As for Defendant Hogan-Foster's motion for summary judgment, [DE 125], it is supported by her own affidavit which states that her employment with the Lake County Sheriff's Department, Court Security, began March 1, 1999. [DE 125-2.] Hogan-Foster states that she has no personal knowledge of Keith McCoy, and that, critically, she had no contact with her from September 20, 2012 until December 3, 2012. [Id.] McCoy does not contest this fact or present any evidence to the contrary. As such, there is no genuine dispute about a material fact regarding the claim against Hogan-Foster and her motion for summary judgment is granted.

         Next I turn to Defendant Niecey Gore's motion for summary judgment. [DE 127.] Gore currently is Assistant Warden for the Lake County Sheriff's Department. [DE 127-2 at 1.] Gore states that she was not personally involved or present at the time Keith McCoy was incarcerated, booked into the Lake County Jail, and classified as a pretrial detainee. [Id.] McCoy does not contest this fact or present any evidence to the contrary. As such, there is no genuine dispute about a material fact regarding the claim against Gore, and therefore her motion for summary judgment is granted.

         Let's move now to Defendant Jose Menchaca's motion for summary judgment. [DE 126.] McCoy alleges that she was punitively misclassified when she was placed in administrative segregation on the medical floor. It's true that Menchaca is the one who made the classification of McCoy. [DE 126-2 at 1.] But Menchaca states that “McCoy was placed in administrative segregation on the medical floor of the jail, to protect him from other inmates preying on him and from him potentially preying on other inmates due to McCoy's sexual orientation.” [Id.] Menchaca reiterates that “McCoy's classification was not punitive, instead it was primarily to protect him.” [Id.] In her motion for summary judgment on the issue, McCoy asserts only that Menchaca placed McCoy in administrative segregation on the medical floor despite the fact that her medical and mental health evaluator had determined that it was unnecessary and the medical staff refused to move her ...


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