Labrec v. Walker, No. 18-1682 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
LaBrec, an inmate at a maximum-security institution, with a history that included prior assaults on inmates and staff, was transferred to the Restricted Housing Unit and was placed in a cell with McNeely, who was in the Unit following an assault on his prior cellmate. LaBrec was designated a “pair with care” inmate; Psychological Services were supposed to be consulted prior to assigning a cellmate. LaBrec informed the staff repeatedly of that status and was allowed to see Dr. Persike in Psychological Services. LaBrec informed Persike that McNeely was talking about beating up his last cellmate and that LaBrec did not feel safe with McNeely. LaBrec continued to ask to be moved, complaining did not feel safe. At one point he had an anxiety attack and began crying and asking for help. LaBrec was not reassigned. Three days after the cell assignment, McNeely stabbed LaBrec with a pen behind his ear, in the back, and in his shoulder. The district court rejected LaBrec’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed with respect to some defendants who were unaware of surrounding circumstances that could render plausible LaBrec’s claim of a threat to his safety. The court reversed with respect to others; a jury could reasonably infer that those defendants possessed a subjective awareness of a serious risk to LaBrec and failed to take the minimal, reasonable action of inquiring further and investigating the situation.