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Seventh Circuit Accepts Illinois Guard’s Concession that Summary Judgment Improperly Granted on Retaliation Claim Against Him

by Mark Wilson

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit accepted a guard’s concession that he was improperly granted summary judgment on a prisoner’s retaliation claim against him. The court also reversed the grant of qualified immunity on that claim.

Illinois prisoner Kenneth James Daugherty was confined at the Menard Correctional Center from 1999 to 2013. While there, he was housed in a unit with “clogged air ventilation, rust, obstructed light, spiders, roaches, mice, filthy showers, raw sewage in the sink, and refusals by prison staff to provide cleaning supplies to combat these conditions.” Daugherty repeatedly complained about his conditions of confinement.

In early May 2012, Lieutenant Kevin Page demanded that he stop complaining about prison conditions and threatened Daugerty with segregation if he continued. Within weeks, Page claimed that Daugherty made incendiary statements of some kind. With the approval of Assistant Warden Richard Harrington, Page placed Daugherty in segregation.

Daugherty was found guilty of “insolence,” and was sanctioned to a month in disciplinary segregation, reduced privileges and commissary restrictions.

Daugherty accused Page of writing a false disciplinary ticket. Page responded that “things could get much worse.” Soon thereafter, Daugherty was transferred to more restrictive disciplinary confinement that is typically reserved for prisoners who pose a higher security risk than Daugherty.

Daugherty brought federal suit against Page, Harrington and others. The district court ultimately granted Defendants’ summary judgment on Daugherty’s retaliation, conditions of confinement and constitutional conspiracy claims. The court also granted Defendants qualified immunity.

The Seventh Circuit accepted Page’s concession that the district court erred in granting him summary judgment on Daugherty’s retaliation claim. “Page implicitly concedes that the court erred in granting him qualified immunity on that claim” as well, the court found. As such, it reversed summary judgment both on the merits of the retaliation claim and Page’s qualified immunity defense to that claim.

The court found that summary judgment was properly granted to all other Defendants on all other claims. See: Daugherty v. Harrington, et al., 906 F3d 606 (7th Cir. 2018).

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Related legal case

Daugherty v. Harrington, et al.