United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
TAYLOR D.C. Department of Corrections
Rachana Nagin Fischer UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
K. Langeneckert UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
R. Maley BARNES & THORNBURG, LLP (Indianapolis)
Shelese M. Woods UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
ENTRY FOLLOWING BENCH TRIAL
JANE MAGNTTS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE
Court conducted a bench trial in this action on February 11,
2019. The plaintiff, Robert Taylor, was present in person and
by stand-by counsel. All four defendants, Officer Charles
Gilbert, Officer Steven Griffin, Officer James Lotz, and
Officer Christopher Tarrh, were present in person and
represented by counsel, Shelese M. Woods and Lara K.
Langeneckert. The court reporter was Cathy Jones.
action was brought under the theory set forth in Bivens
v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The
issue for trial was whether the defendants subjected Mr.
Taylor to excessive force on November 12, 2014, in violation
of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Motion for Preliminary Injunction
beginning of trial, Mr. Taylor moved for a preliminary
injunction against the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”)
and all prison officials at the Federal Correctional Complex
at Terre Haute (“FCC-TH”). He alleged that he had
been housed in administrative segregation and received false
conduct reports in retaliation for filing grievances. He also
alleged that he was denied access to the law library in
violation of the First Amendment, that he did not have all
the documents he needed for trial, and that video evidence
was not provided to him.
defendants responded by pointing out that Mr. Taylor had been
most recently confined in a Washington D.C. jail, not by the
BOP and that any claim of retaliation or other conditions Mr.
Taylor alleged in his oral motion fell outside the scope of
this lawsuit. The defendants also stated that earlier in the
case, Mr. Taylor had been ably represented by counsel who
actively conducted discovery and had sent him copies of all
documents in the case. More recently, defendants and the
Court provided Mr. Taylor with another set of the documents.
To the extent Mr. Taylor asserted that he could not identify
witnesses, he was given an opportunity but refused to do so
during a pretrial conference with the Magistrate Judge and
during the final pretrial conference with the undersigned.
Court denied the motion for preliminary injunction because
the trial could only remedy claims that were brought in the
complaint relating to the alleged assault in November 2014.
See Mitchell v. Kallas, 895 F.3d 492, 502-03 (7th
Cir. 2018) (“A prisoner may join defendants in the same
action only if the claims against each one ‘aris[e] out
of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of
transactions or occurrences ....'”) (quoting Rule
20(a)(2)(A)); see also George v. Smith, 507 F.3d
605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). The additional conditions Mr.
Taylor complained about are not at issue in this case.
the Court explained that Mr. Taylor's decision to
terminate his relationship with the attorneys who had worked
more than 500 hours on his case led to him having to
represent himself at trial. The Court simply does not have
enough volunteer attorneys to assist every prisoner litigant.
See Wilborn v. Early, 881 F.3d 998, 1008 (7th Cir.
2018) (district court did not err in failing to find a
replacement attorney after first volunteer attorney
withdrew). “The help of recruited lawyers is a valuable
resource but a limited one.” Id. “There
are limits to what a court must do after deciding to recruit
counsel.” Id. Nonetheless, the Court did
attempt to find another attorney to serve as stand-by counsel
at trial and Mr. Maley, an experienced litigator and partner
with the largest law firm in the state, volunteered. It is
the Court's view that it did all it could do to assist
Mr. Taylor with presenting his case.
consideration of the evidence presented during the bench
trial, the Court now issues its findings of fact and
conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Findings of Fact
relevant times, Mr. Taylor was confined in federal custody in
the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”) in the United
States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana
(“USP-TH”). Mr. Taylor alleged in his complaint,
filed on November 4, 2015, that he was assaulted by the four
defendants in his cell #110 on A-range on November 12, 2014.
housed at USP-TH, Mr. Taylor was neither a trouble maker nor
a serial litigant. He had a general reputation for honesty
among the prison staff.
November 12, 2014, Officers Griffin and Tarrh came to Mr.
Taylor's cell with a mentally ill inmate. The officers
wanted Mr. Taylor to be the other inmate's cell-mate. Mr.
Taylor refused to cuff up because he knew the other inmate
was “crazy.” Mr. Taylor told the officers that
they were not supposed to give that order because it could
cause a hazard to his health and safety. Mr. Taylor believed
the other inmate to be Ricky Ward. After Mr. Taylor objected
to the potential cell-mate, the two officers left.
Taylor was then sitting on his bunk when Officers Gilbert and
Lotz came to his cell and grabbed him. Mr. Taylor tried to
get away from them, resisting as he did so. Officer Gilbert
was the first one to put hands on him. He tried to twist Mr.
Taylor while he was on the bed to get Mr. Taylor to cuff up.
Officer Lotz was working along with Officer Gilbert. The
other two officers, Griffin and Tarrh, came into the cell and
held Mr. Taylor's legs. Mr. Taylor believes Officer