United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Allen Huff, a prisoner without a lawyer, proceeds on claims
against Stephen Tabler, alleging that a transfer to another
jail constituted retaliation in violation of the First
Amendment and punishment without due process in violation of
the Fourteenth Amendment. The defendant filed a motion for
summary judgment, arguing that Huff was not entitled to
remain at a particular prison and that Huff cannot
demonstrate a claim of First Amendment retaliation.
says that the motion for summary judgment should be denied
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d)(1), which allows the court to
deny summary judgment if “a nonmovant shows by
affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it
cannot present facts essential to justify its
opposition.” According to Huff, Tabler testified at a
deposition in another case and in that testimony, he admitted
to transferring inmates to other jails for the purpose of
avoiding lawsuits. Huff tells me he could not obtain the
transcript of that testimony. I will assume that the
allegation regarding Tabler's testimony in that other
case is true. Huff also states that correctional staff have
taken documentary evidence from him, but the description of
this evidence is too vague to warrant a denial of summary
judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d)(1). As a result, I will
proceed to the merits of the summary judgment motion.
Stephen Tabler worked as the jail commander at the Pulaski
County Jail. ECF 40-1. On August 16, 2016, Huff received a
disciplinary write up for destruction of jail property, and
he was placed in lockdown. ECF 49 at 1. Three days later,
Huff told Phyllis Foust, an assistant jail commander, that he
should have received a disciplinary hearing within 72 hours
and demanded that he be returned to the general population.
ECF 48 at 16-17. Foust rejected the demand and prepared
another disciplinary write up. Id. at 17-18. Huff
responded in a rude and insolent manner; he signed the
papers, threw them in the air, and told Foust to
“Fetch, bitch.” Id. at 18. He then
threatened Foust telling her, “You wait till I get out.
Just wait till I get out.” ECF 49 at 2. He then said,
“Motherfucker, I will show you assault on an
officer.” Id. at 30; ECF 49 at 2. He then
kicked his cell door for an hour, pushed his food trays out
the door, but calmed down once Foust left. ECF 48 at 18-19.
Four days later Tabler transferred Huff to the Starke County
Jail, where he stayed for two months. ECF 40-1.
Starke County Jail, Huff was deprived of recreation for days
at a time, was assaulted by other inmates, and maced by the
jail officials. ECF 1. The food was also inferior, and he did
not know anybody. Id. at 2. Because he was unable to
contact his family and attorney, the transfer also resulted
in the loss of visits, mail, and money deposits and
interfered with his pending legal matters. Id.
Nevertheless, Huff generally preferred the conditions of the
Starke County Jail over the Pulaski County Jail because the
Pulaski County Jail staff were, in his words, really
“childish and petty.” ECF 48 at 35-36. At his
deposition, which took place at the Pulaski County Jail, Huff
Defense Counsel: So you were mad that you
had been transferred in the first place?
Defense Counsel: Okay. But you were happy to
be back here because you like this jail better than Starke;
Huff: Actually, I like Starke way better
Defense Counsel: Oh, okay. Because . . .
Huff: The jail itself is better. You know,
when I went there, I am not -- I have never been to Knox
before, so I didn't know anybody. I didn't have any
way to get a hold of anybody. They didn't let me take my
address book with my phone numbers. They didn't let me
take nothing, so I couldn't get a hold of nobody. But
like here, they're -- I don't know how to explain it.
They're really petty. They are really childish about
stuff. Like, okay, for example, when the girls are in the
hallway, they're told they're not even allowed to
turn their heads or they get lockdown. In a real jail, like
Elkhart, you're in the hallway with girls all day long.
Any time you go to court or medical or anything like that,
you are with females. They don't care about that. In
Starke County, they don't care about it. Just little
stuff like that. They are really petty and childish about it.
swears in his affidavit that he transferred Huff to defuse
the escalating tensions between Huff and the jail staff and
to facilitate the safe and efficient operation of the Pulaski
County Jail. ECF 40-1. He was informed that Huff had yelled
profanities at Foust and threw paperwork at Foust and that
Foust felt threatened and intimidated. Id. In the
response to the motion for summary judgment, Huff states that
inmates were transferred from the Pulaski County Jail for the
purpose of avoiding lawsuits. ...