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Seventh Circuit Protects Guards Who Allegedly Failed to Protect Wisconsin Prisoner

Before the court was the appeal of prisoner Daniel A. Schillinger, who was confined at Wisconsin’s Secure Program Facility when he was assaulted on September 17, 2015. While on the recreation yard, a prisoner named Terry approached Schillinger as he was playing chess.

Terry made threats and demanded Schillinger buy canteen items for him.

Guards Randy Starkey and Josh Kiley approached and asked, “Are you guys horse playing or are you for real?” Terry responded, “No, it’s all good.”

As the recreation yard was closing, Starkey and Kiley asked Schillinger if he was going to be okay. He responded he didn’t know because Terry made threats and he did not trust him. Another prisoner overheard Starkey say that he thought there was going to be a “rumble.”

When Schillinger arrived at his unit, Terry attacked. It took about eight to 10 minutes for guards to respond. Schillinger was knocked unconscious. He suffered a skull fracture, cuts to the face that required stitches, a cut on his elbow; he lost a tooth and suffered a chipped one, and sustained possible nerve damage on the left side of his mouth, plus a bruised lung.

Schillinger filed a grievance that identified the date of the incident and his injuries.

The Second Circuit agreed with the district court that the grievance failed to inform prison officials of the nature of the wrong and the grievance did not exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, known as PLRA.

Neither Starkey or Kiley were mentioned in the grievance, and there was no reference to an earlier confrontation between Schillinger and Terry. Thus, it could not be concluded from the grievance that they failed to take appropriate measures to prevent the attack.

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Related legal case

Schillinger v. Kiley