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Denny v. Wiggins

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

July 23, 2019

TYRONE DENNY, Plaintiff,
WIGGINS, et al. Defendants.


         Plaintiff Tyrone Denny, an inmate at Pendleton Correctional Facility (“Pendleton”), brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment rights. Defendants Feldkamp, Kemp, Coffey, and Prulhiere[1] moved for summary judgment. Mr. Denny responded to the motion for summary judgment, and the defendants filed a reply. Because the defendants designated additional evidence in their reply, Mr. Denny filed a sur-reply. See S.D. Ind. Local Rule 56-1(d). The motion is now ripe for review. For the reasons explained in this Order, there exists a genuine issue of material fact, and the defendants are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Williams v. Brooks, 809 F.3d 936, 941-42 (7th Cir. 2016). “A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Daugherty v. Page, 906 F.3d 606, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Gekas v. Vasilades, 814 F.3d 890, 896 (7th Cir. 2016). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Skiba v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 884 F.3d 708, 717 (7th Cir. 2018). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to “scour every inch of the record” for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them. Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, 870 F.3d 562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         II. Factual Background

         Mr. Denny alleges that on December 17, 2015, he was attacked in his housing dormitory by four other inmates incarcerated at Pendleton. The complaint states that the defendants knew of the threat to Mr. Denny and failed to prevent the attack, demonstrating deliberate indifference to a known risk of serious harm. The following facts are taken from Mr. Denny's deposition, which was designated by the defendants in support of their motion, [2] and are presented in the light most favorable to Mr. Denny as the non-movant.

         Mr. Denny was placed in administrative segregation at PCF on July 13, 2015. Shortly after, another inmate who was serving as a wheelchair pusher informed Mr. Denny that “they was going to do stuff to [him] or certain stuff was supposed to happen to [him].” Dkt. 56-2 at 17:13-16, 21:20. Specifically, the inmate told Mr. Denny that other inmates were going to “get” him when he got out of segregation because the other inmates believed Mr. Denny had “checked into” segregation, meaning that he had provided information to prison officials about other inmates.

         On August 20, 2015, Mr. Denny met with Investigator Prulhiere and Investigator Feldkamp and told them “what [he] heard in terms of the threats.” Id. at 26:2-10. He explained that other inmates thought he provided information on them and that was why they “got their stuff caught up.” Id. at 28:11-13. Mr. Denny told Investigator Prulhiere and Investigator Feldkamp that he had heard that “people wanted to attack [him] and hurt [him].” Id. at 27:23-25; see also Id. at 29:11-17. Investigator Prulhiere told Mr. Denny that he would put in a transfer request and that prison officials were not going to “take the chance” and put Mr. Denny “back out there.” Id. at 27:18-22.

         Despite being told that he was being transferred to another facility, on August 30, 2015, Investigator Feldkamp visited Mr. Denny and informed him that he was being removed from administrative segregation and placed in the F South dormitory. Investigator Feldkamp said he did not want to remove from Mr. Denny from administrative segregation, but they needed the bed space. When Mr. Denny reminded Investigator Feldkamp of the threats against him, Investigator Feldkamp said Mr. Denny would not be there long. When Mr. Denny suggested that he be returned to N Central-the housing unit he was assigned to before being placed in administrative segregation-Investigator Feldkamp promised to look into a transfer and said Mr. Denny would go to F South “for right now.” Id. at 33:20-34:11. After Mr. Denny again expressed discomfort with going to F South, Investigator Feldkamp said he had no choice.

         Mr. Denny spoke with Investigator Feldkamp again within the first week of being placed in F South and throughout the time he was housed there. He also spoke with Lieutenant Kemp and Captain Coffey. On an almost daily basis, Mr. Denny expressed his concerns. Anytime he saw one of them, he would try to talk to them. He had conversations with the defendants, sent requests for interviews, and filed grievances. During the conversations, he would tell the defendants that he did not feel comfortable in F South because people were still talking about “doing stuff to [him]” and threatening him. Id. at 44:8-44:5. He also told the defendants that “people tried to steal [his] stuff and start with [him].” Id. at 44:15-16; see also Id. at 49:1-8.

         When Mr. Denny asked Investigator Feldkamp, Lieutenant Kemp, or Captain Coffey about being transferred, they all said that it was “out of [their] hands” and they could not do anything to help him. These individuals also did not respond to the grievances and requests for interview submitted by Mr. Denny.

         Although Mr. Denny did not speak with Investigator Prulhiere about the threats against him after the interview on August 20, 2015, he sent several requests for interview to Investigator Prulhiere. Investigator Prulhiere did not respond to these requests.

         III. ...

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