United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Allen Huff, a prisoner without a lawyer, proceeds on claims
against Stephen Tabler, Steven Sewell, and Seth Barton,
alleging that they punished him in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment on June 14, 2017, by using excessive
force and by transferring him from Pulaski County Jail to
Starke County Jail, which resulted in the loss of contact and
support from family and friends. ECF 6. The defendants filed
a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the use of force
and transfer was an objectively reasonable response to
Huff's refusal to comply with orders. Huff responds that
he was entitled to disregard unlawful orders and that he
never posed a physical threat to the defendants.
relevant times, Huff was a pretrial detainee at the Pulaski
County Jail, and the defendants served as correctional
officers. In support of the instant motion, the defendants
have submitted video recordings of the use of force incident,
incident reports, and Huff's deposition. According to
these exhibits, the following occurred.
14, 2017, around noon, Huff threw a trash can at the wall in
a common room several times. ECF 41 at 12:12. Jail staff
ordered him to return to his cell, but he refused and
continued throwing the trash can. Id. at 12:12-16.
Officer Tabler and Officer Sewell arrived and ordered Huff to
allow them to handcuff him, but he refused and resisted their
efforts to place him in handcuffs. Id. at 12:16. The
officers forced Huff to the ground, tased him, and placed
handcuffs on his wrists as he continued to resist.
Id. at 12:17-18. After handcuffing his wrists.
Officer Tabler and Officer Sewell began escorting him from
the common room to a padded cell. Id. at 12:19. On
the way, Huff continued to resist, kicked a mop bucket filled
with water, and attempted to redirect the escorting officers.
Id. After a brief struggle, the officers held Huff
face down on the floor and waited for Officer Barton to
arrive with additional handcuffs for Huff's ankles.
Id. at 12:19-21. After shackling Huff's ankles,
the officers escorted and placed him in a padded cell.
Id. at 12:21.
arrival, Huff allowed the officers to remove the handcuffs on
his wrists, but, when the officers ordered him to kneel so
that they could remove the handcuffs from his ankles, he
ignored them. Id. at 12:23-24. Officer Barton
forced Huff to the ground and held him there while the
handcuffs were removed. Id. On the video recording,
as Officer Barton held Huff to the ground, the sound of
Huff's head hitting the floor is audible, but another
officer momentarily obstructs the view of Officer Barton and
Huff's upper body. Id. at 12:24. In the incident
report, Officer Barton explained that, at that moment, he
felt Huff tense up as if he intended to start actively
resisting again. ECF 34 at 166-68. Officer Barton further
explained that he struck Huff's head to distract Huff as
he struggled to maintain control of Huff's arms and
needed to reposition. Id. At his deposition, Huff
testified that he tensed up due to pain and that he did not
sense that Officer Barton was losing control. ECF 34 at
he was left alone in the padded cell, Huff began kicking the
cell door. ECF 41 at 12:26. In response, Officer Barton
returned and forced Huff to the floor. Id. Huff was
then handcuffed and strapped to a chair. Id. at
12:26-29. Huff made a reference to Officer Tabler's
son's life, which Officer Tabler understood as a threat
to his family. ECF 34 at 173-74. About an hour later, Huff
was placed in a van and transferred to the Starke County
Jail. ECF 41 at 13:40. As a result of the use of force, Huff
suffered lacerations, bruises, and soreness on the head,
neck, ribs, back, and extremities but never requested medical
attention for them. ECF 34 at 95-96.
judgment must be granted when “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). A
genuine dispute of material fact exists when “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In
determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, the
deciding court must construe all facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. Ogden v.
Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010).
alleges that Stephen Tabler, Steven Sewell, and Seth Barton
punished him in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment on June
14, 2017, by using excessive force and by transferring him
from Pulaski County Jail to Starke County Jail. “[T]he
Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause prohibits
holding pretrial detainees in conditions that amount to
punishment.” Mulvania v. Sheriff of Rock Island
Cty., 850 F.3d 849, 856 (7th Cir. 2017).
“[P]unishment can consist of actions taken with an
expressed intent to punish, ” or, “in the absence
of an expressed intent to punish, a pretrial detainee can
nevertheless prevail by showing that the actions are not
rationally related to a legitimate nonpunitive governmental
purpose or that the actions appear excessive in relation to
that purpose.” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135
S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015). A pretrial detainee can
“prevail by providing only objective evidence that the
challenged governmental action is not rationally related to a
legitimate governmental objective or that it is excessive in
relation to that purpose.” Id.
court must make this determination from the perspective of a
reasonable officer on the scene, including what the officer
knew at the time, not with the 20/20 vision of
hindsight.” Id. “A court must also
account for the legitimate interests that stem from the
government's need to manage the facility in which the
individual is detained, appropriately deferring to policies
and practices that in the judgment of jail officials are
needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to
maintain institutional security.” Id.
“Considerations such as the following may bear on the
reasonableness or unreasonableness of the force used: the
relationship between the need for the use of force and the
amount of force used; the extent of the plaintiff's
injury; any effort made by the officer to temper or to limit
the amount of force; the severity of the security problem at
issue; the threat reasonably perceived by the officer; and
whether the plaintiff was actively resisting.”
argues that he was entitled to disobey the order to return to
his cell because it was an unlawful order. He states that he
was constitutionally entitled to an hour out of his cell. He
further argues that the defendants' use of force from the
time they approached him in the dayroom was excessive because
he made no attempt to fight them and did not pose a threat.
Based on these arguments, it appears that Huff misunderstands
the balance between his rights as a detainee and the
governmental interest in maintaining order, discipline, and
safety in a detention facility.
When an order is given to an inmate there are only so many
choices available to the correctional officer. If it is an
order that requires action by the institution, and the inmate
cannot be persuaded to obey the order, some means must be
used to compel compliance, such as a chemical agent or
physical force. While experts who testified on behalf of the
plaintiffs, suggested that rather than seek to enforce
orders, it was possible to leave the inmate alone if he
chooses not to obey a ...