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Sinn v. Lemmon

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 6, 2018

DYLAN SINN, Plaintiff,
BRUCE LEMMON, et al., Defendants.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, United States District Court Judge

         This cause is before the Court on the motion for summary judgment filed by the three Defendants who remain in this lawsuit: Bruce Lemmon, Stanley Knight, and John Brush. The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion for the reasons set forth below.

         I. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”). However, a party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must show what evidence it has that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

         Of particular relevance to this Entry is the axiom that a district court is not required to “wade through improper denials and legal argument in search of a genuinely disputed fact.” Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). Further, a mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material. Edward E. Gillen Co. v. City of Lake Forest, 3 F.3d 192, 196 (7th Cir. 1993). In short, “[j]udges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs.” United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991). Sinn's summary judgment materials were woefully deficient both in responding adequately to the Defendants' statement of facts and in setting forth additional facts with appropriate citations to the record.[1]


         A. Properly Supported Background Facts of Record

         The properly supported background facts of record, viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Dylan Sinn, are as follows. Additional properly supported relevant facts are included in the Discussion section.

         Three Defendants remain in the case: Bruce Lemmon, former Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”); Stanley Knight, former Superintendent at Putnamville Correctional Facility (“Putnamville”); and John Brush, a unit manager at Putnamville Correctional Facility.

         From June 2011 to February 2015, Dylan Sinn was incarcerated within the IDOC. In 2014, the IDOC moved Sinn to Putnamville because his security level was decreased due to good behavior. At Putnamville, Sinn was with other offenders who were deemed to be a lower security risk than those inmates at his prior facility, and he was put in an open dorm.[2] Sinn felt that he was affected by gang activity at Putnamville from the time he arrived there; however, before the events in April 2014 out of which this case arises, he did not report any threats to prison officers, although he had received information from the IDOC that encouraged inmates to report illegal activity at the facilities.[3] Sinn told counselors that he did not like the open dorm set-up and wanted to move back to a facility with single-man cells. However, he did not ask for protective custody.

         In April 2014, Sinn lived in Putnamville Dorm 11 South. Prior to April 24, 2014, he had not been harmed. However, on April 24, 2014, an inmate lured Sinn from his bed to an area that was not far away. Sinn was grabbed from behind, his arms were restrained, and another inmate punched Sinn's face several times. Sinn believes that two or three inmates were involved in the attack, and those inmates were Vice Lords or “real good friends of them.” Dkt. No. 79-11 at 55. In the days after the attack, it became clear to Sinn that the attack had been choreographed by the gang. Sinn was not injured badly by the attack; he had some scrapes and maybe a busted lip, but nothing he felt was serious. Sinn believed that he was targeted for the attack because he was unaffiliated with any gang and was a “White, clean-cut, tall, nerdy guy with glasses.” Id. 11 South was regularly understaffed and had just one correctional officer on the floor when Sinn was attacked.

         After the attack on April 24, Officers Paul Hoskins and Scott Rodgers reviewed the video and moved Sinn to a different dormitory: 18 South. 18 South was regularly understaffed and had just one correctional officer on the floor when Sinn was again attacked. Sinn told Hoskins and Rodgers that the situation was not going to stop and in fact would escalate.[4] He wanted to know why he was being moved while his assailants remained in the same dormitory. Hoskins and Rodgers told Sinn that he needed to speak with his counselor the next day. At the time, Sinn did not know about protective custody.

         When Sinn was taken to 18 South after the attack, he was met by other members of the same gang who let him “know that it wasn't over yet; that they were going to get me when time came and they saw fit. . . . They said they had Vice Lords all over the camp. There wasn't any dorm I'd be safe in.” Id. at 57. He did not tell anyone about these threats. When he went to breakfast the next morning, he saw Defendant Brush. Brush already knew about the incident and told Sinn that he had handled himself well. Sinn told Brush about his concerns and asked to be moved to a different facility. Sinn did not tell Brush any of the names of the people who concerned him; he did not know any of their names at the time.

         Sinn wrote a letter to Brush that is dated April 26, 2014. The letter recounted the events of April 24, 2014, and indicated that Sinn believed he would be subject to assault from black inmates. Sinn does not recall whether he turned in the letter to a counselor's box in the chow hall or slipped it under the counselor's door. Sinn did not have any communication with Brush after he sent the letter.

         Sinn also filled out a grievance form on April 28, 2014, which reads in relevant part:

On 4-24-14 @ approx. 5:30 pm in 11 South, I was assulted, jumped, and robbed for all my property. Hygeine, good, cloths, glasses, shoes, and radio and headphones. Camera showed the incident and who was involved. Due to number of black gang members involved and time of incident. Custody violated by 8th Amendment protection rights by deliberate indifference. Further putting me in violent situations over the incident and other people involved being retaliated against.

Dkt. No. 79-9 (errors in original).

         Between April 24 and April 30, Sinn was threatened by members of the Vice Lord gang. They threatened him because he defended himself against his property being taken and because they believed he was taking steps to talk with officers about his safety. They knew that he got pulled out, spoke to officers, and was moved. They were making it clear what their intentions were.

         On April 30, 2014, Sinn was again assaulted by black inmates. He believes that the people who attacked him were members of the Vice Lords. They forced him into the shower area and severely beat him. Sinn's leg was broken in two places, and he also suffered a fractured jaw, a broken nose, and several contusions to his face and body. Sinn was taken by ambulance to a hospital and then transferred to a different hospital, where he underwent two surgeries. It was later determined that Sinn had been assaulted by inmate Marquette Neal. Inmate Chauncey Davenport also was involved. Both Davenport and Neal were put in disciplinary segregation.

         B. Additional Facts Set Forth by Sinn That Are Not Properly Supported

         Sinn provides a Statement of Material Facts in Dispute or Favorable to the Plaintiff in his Brief.[5] The Court has incorporated the facts that Sinn properly supports into section A, above. The Court will address Sinn's remaining purported facts, in turn.

         Sinn asserts that the “following facts are in dispute or are favorable to the Plaintiff's theory of liability against each defendant: Bruce Lemmon, Stanley Knight, John D. Brush, Scott Rodgers, and Paul Hoskins.” Dkt. No. 88 at 8. First, “Dylan Sinn did all that he was required to do to alert the Security staff at Putnamville of the imminent threat he feared in retaliation for reporting the gang attack on April 24, 2014, by the Vice Lords. Brush Dep. p.83, Knight Dep. p 193.” Id. Neither of the pages cited by Sinn supports this fact.

         Second, “[t]he security staff could verify the attack on April 24 on another white inmate by the Vice Lords on April 25 or 26. There were 6 security cameras on each side of the dorm.” Dkt. No. 88 at 9. Sinn fails to support this allegation with a citation to material in the record.

         Third, “Michael Berg, an expert in prison and jail management and operations, found the events of April 24, and April 30 at Putnamville to have been preventable. Mr. Sinn did meet the obligation to inform the security staff in sufficient detail of his well-founded fear of being attacked by the Vice Lords or their friends. Paul Hoskins did not know what to do if an inmate was in fear of being attacked. Hoskins Dep. p. 88.” Dkt. No. 88 at 9. The Court is unable to locate Hoskins' deposition in the record before the Court.

         Fourth, “[t]he Defendants did not provide an expert report nor would they identify what Mr. Lemmon and Mr. Knight would offer an opinion about. They are now precluded from offering any expert opinion.” Dkt. No. 88 at 9. ...

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