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Gay inmate loses medical care, punitive segregation suit

December 15, 2017

A gay inmate who uses a man’s name but identifies as a woman has lost a summary judgment challenge in Indiana’s Northern District Court, where the inmate alleged she was intentionally assigned to medical segregation as a punitive measure.

After being booked into the Lake County Jail as a pretrial detainee in September 2012, Keith McCoy — who is gay and identifies as a woman, yet claims she is not transgender — was placed in administrative segregation on the jail’s medical floor. Jose Menchaca alleged he made the decision to place McCoy in administrative segregation as a way of protecting her from other inmates preying on her, and of protecting other inmates from her possible preying on them due to her sexual orientation.

Shortly after her detention, McCoy was involved in a fight with another inmate that ended with the other inmate getting a cut above his eye and McCoy getting blood on her uniform. Surveillance footage showed McCoy threw the first punch, then later struck the other inmate with a broken broomstick, causing the cut. The blood found on McCoy’s uniform was from the other inmate’s cut.

In her complaint against various jail defendants, McCoy alleged she did not receive medical treatment for one or two days after the incident. However, that allegation contradicted her own version of events, which included McCoy being stabbed in the leg and receiving a shot and bandages directly after the incident. Under either version of events, District Judge Philip Simon wrote Thursday that jail employee Michael Atherton, one of the officers who responded to the fight and completed a jail log for the incident, was entitled to summary judgment on McCoy’s allegations of deliberate indifference to her medical needs.

According to Atherton’s log, McCoy was examined after the fight and was found to have no visible injuries. McCoy did not offer any evidence to contradict the log, so Atherton was entitled to summary judgment under his version of events, Simon wrote. Further, Atherton would still be entitled to judgment in his favor under McCoy’s version of the fight because she alleged she received a shot and bandages immediately after the incident.

McCoy also alleged jail employees Curtis Pearson and Yvonne Hogan-Foster were deliberately indifferent to her need for medical attention, but both employees claimed they had no contact with McCoy during the time period at issue, Sept. 20 through Dec. 3, 2012. McCoy did not offer evidence to counter those claims, so Simon granted summary judgment to Pearson and Hogan-Foster as well, specifically noting that Pearson’s employment at the jail did not begin until 2014.

McCoy also filed a complaint against Menchaca and Niecey Gore for their role in classifying her to administrative medical segregation, but similar to Pearson and Hogan-Foster’s argument, Gore alleged she was not personally involved or present at the time McCoy was incarcerated. As with Pearson and Hogan-Foster, Simon granted summary judgment to Gore on those grounds.

While Menchaca did not dispute that he assigned McCoy to administrative segregation, he asserted in his motion for summary judgment the decision was made to protect both McCoy and the other inmates. McCoy, however, claimed her medical and mental health evaluator had cleared her because she is not transgender, making her assignment to medical segregation punitive.

“These facts do not appear to be disputed,” Simon wrote. “But in order to be successful on her claim against Menchaca, or at least survive summary judgment, McCoy needs to present evidence that the motivation for her classification was punitive.”

“Menchaca’s reasons for reclassifying McCoy to administrative segregation on the medical floor were administrative and for the purposes of protecting both McCoy and the other inmates and, therefore, were not punitive and thus do not violate due process,” Simon continued. “For these reasons, Menchaca’s motion for summary judgment is granted.”

The case is Keith McCoy v. Niecey Gore, et al., 2:14-cv-355.

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