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Baker v. McCorkle

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

October 15, 2019

Christopher Baker, Plaintiff,
Richard McCorkle, et al., Defendants.



         On November 4, 2016, Plaintiff Christopher Baker, along with four other plaintiffs, initiated this action against Defendants Henry County Sheriff Richard McCorkle, the Henry County Commissioners, and the Henry County Council. [Filing No. 1.] Plaintiffs asserted their claims individually and on behalf of a class of present and future inmates of the Henry County Jail (the “Jail”), to redress allegedly unconstitutional conditions at the Jail stemming from overcrowding. After resolving several pre-trial issues, the Court found that only Mr. Baker had alleged viable claims and certified a class of “any and all persons currently confined or who will in the future be confined in the Henry County Jail” for purposes of declaratory and injunctive relief only. On June 27, 2019, the Court decertified the class based on inadequacy of class counsel, noted that it did not appear that Mr. Baker asserted individual claims, and ordered him to file a motion to dismiss the case. [Filing No. 185.] Instead, Mr. Baker filed a “Response” to the Court's Order, asserting that he is entitled to damages on his individual claims. [Filing No. 187.] Defenda nts ha ve moved for su mmary ju dgment on Mr. Baker's individual cla ims, [Filing No. 189] - to the extent they exist - and that motion is now ripe for the Court's ruling.

         I. Standard of Review

         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. SeeFed. 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. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. 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. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). 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. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). 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.” Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

         II. Statement of Facts

         The following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standards detailed above. The facts stated are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light most favorable to “the party against whom the motion under consideration is made.” Premcor USA, Inc. v. American Home Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005).

         Along with claims on behalf of a class of “all present and future inmates of [the Jail], ” Mr. Baker alleges in the Complaint that while an inmate at the Jail:

• “He has had to sleep on the floor for one hundred fifteen (120) (sic) days with nothing but a one-inch thick, moldy mat”;
• “There is mold on the walls, ceiling, and floor of his cell”;
• “He has not been permitted to use the outside recreation areas since April”; and
• “He has been forced to sleep naked in a padded cell and to share that cell with ...

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