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Abdul-Aziz Rashid Muhammad v. Gehrke

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

March 15, 2018

ABDUL-AZIZ RASHID MUHAMMAD, Plaintiff,
v.
GEHRKE Counselor, PARKER Operations Lt., FORTUNE Unit Manager, SCULLY Nurse, Defendants.

          HON. WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE.

         Entry Granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment And Directing Entry of Final Judgment

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, defendants' motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 69, is granted.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Abdul-Aziz Rashid Muhammad is an inmate in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). On October 16, 2015, he commenced this action against BOP employees Gehrke, Parker, Fortune, and Scully alleging they retaliated against him for filing grievances or requests for medical treatment. Dkt. No. 1, p. 3 (Claim 4). He contends that he was threatened with physical assault, 24-hour single-cell detention, and transfer to another facility if he persisted in filing grievances or medical requests. He also contends that defendants cancelled a medical work duty exemption and moved him into a cell with an inmate who had a history of violent assaults on other inmates. Id. Mr. Muhammad's action is brought pursuant to the theory recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The action was screened on December 11, 2015, and allowed to proceed against defendants as a Bivens action.

         The four defendants seek summary judgment. Mr. Muhammad filed a response in opposition that is fifty-five pages long and has one-hundred and twenty pages of attachments. Defendants have replied, and Mr. Muhammad has surreplied.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         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.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis of its motion, and identifying those portions of designated evidence that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). After “a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         A factual issue is material only if resolving the factual issue might change the outcome of the case under the governing law. See Clifton v. Schafer, 969 F.2d 278, 281 (7th Cir. 1992). A factual issue is genuine only if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party on the evidence presented. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court “may not ‘assess the credibility of witnesses, choose between competing reasonable inferences, or balance the relative weight of conflicting evidence.'” Bassett v. I.C. Sys., Inc., 715 F.Supp.2d 803, 808 (N.D. Ill. 2010) (quoting Stokes v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chi., 599 F.3d 617, 619 (7th Cir. 2010)). Instead, it must view all the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and resolve all factual disputes in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         III. Plaintiff's Complaint

         “Claim Four” of a complaint filed by Mr. Muhammad is the operative complaint. It reads:

Defendants Counselor Gehrke, Operations Lieutenant Parker, Unit Manager Fortune, and RN Scully are liable to the Plaintiff under the 1st Amendment because they retaliated against Plaintiff for exercise of his right to file grievances or request for medical treatment. Plaintiff filed informal inmate request to staff and formal administrative remedies complaints allowed by BOP Policy in order to petition for redress of grievances about the denial of medical treatment. The Defendants threatened to physically assault the Plaintiff, place him in 24 hour single cell detention and transfer him if he persisted in exercise of 1st Amendment rights. Defendants also cancelled Plaintiff's medical exemption from work duty and moved him into a cell with an inmate who had a history of violent assaults against other inmates . . . But for Plaintiffs exercise of 1st Amendment rights, the Defendants would not have retaliated against him, and these retaliatory threats and acts were sufficient to deter a person of ordinary firmness from exercising 1st Amendment rights.

         Dkt. No. 1, p. 3.

         Mr. Muhammad's asserted First Amendment activity was, as noted above, filing grievances and requesting medical treatment. He asserts that the actions taken against him would deter future First Amendment Activity, and that the ...


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