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MARTIN v. LANE

June 12, 1991

JOHN-TYRONNE MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL LANE, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUA

 NICHOLAS J. BUA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 John-Tyronne Martin, now an inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center, has again filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit with this court challenging the procedures of the Department of Corrections and the conditions of his confinement at the Stateville Correctional Center. The court was first introduced to Martin in Martin v. Davies, 694 F. Supp. 528 (N.D. Ill. 1988), aff'd, 917 F.2d 336 (7th Cir. 1990), where Martin claimed that he was denied meaningful access to the courts. In this case, Martin attacks more than restricted access to the law library, he challenges a whole array of institutional practices and services.

 Defendants Michael Lane and Michael O'Leary move for summary judgment on Martin's claims. Although some of Martin's claims are quite novel, they do not all withstand summary judgment scrutiny.

 ANALYSIS

 The complaints and submissions of pro se litigants, like Martin, are to be construed liberally. Caldwell v. Miller, 790 F.2d 589, 595 (7th Cir. 1986). In a motion for summary judgment, the very nature of the motion requires that all reasonable inferences be made in favor of the non-moving party. Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues as to any material fact and a judgment can be made as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The existence of a factual dispute will not foreclose summary judgment unless "the disputed fact is outcome determinative under governing law." Howland v. Kilquist, 833 F.2d 639, 642 (7th Cir. 1987) (quoting Egger v. Phillips, 710 F.2d 292, 296 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 918, 78 L. Ed. 2d 262, 104 S. Ct. 284 (1983)). Factual disputes are not outcome determinative if the facts asserted by the non-moving party, even assumed correct, do not state a legally sufficient claim. Howland, 833 F.2d at 642. That is the problem with certain of Martin's claims.

 I. Department of Corrections Procedures

 Martin brings his novel claims under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. He accuses defendants of engaging in a conspiracy to deny benefits to black inmates. Defendant James Thompson is accused of following racially discriminatory practices in the appointment and promotion of policy-making officials in the Department of Corrections. He and defendant Jerry Consentino allegedly refused to deposit funds in minority-owned banks as well as in the minority community. It is claimed that Lane continued this policy of non-investment in minority-owned banks. Lane is also accused of engaging in discriminatory hiring and promotion practices.

 The first issue to be addressed is whether Martin has standing to bring these claims. For standing to exist, three requirements must be met: (1) Martin must personally have suffered an actual or threatened injury caused by defendants' allegedly illegal conduct; (2) the injury must be fairly traceable to defendants' challenged conduct; and (3) the injury must be one likely to be redressed through a favorable decision. Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 472, 70 L. Ed. 2d 700, 102 S. Ct. 752 (1982).

 Martin aims his first attack at the investment practices of public officials. His contention is that funds received by the State of Illinois should be invested in minority-owned rather than white-owned banks. From the allegations in his amended complaint, it is difficult to determine whether Martin has anything at stake here. The court can only assume that Martin is challenging these investments as a taxpayer. The funds targeted by Martin consist mainly of grants to the State of Illinois from the Department of Justice. He appears to be challenging state agencies in their use of funds received from federal agencies. If that is the case, Martin cannot sustain his claim since, in his role as a taxpayer, he can only challenge congressional or legislative actions. City of Evanston v. Regional Transportation Authority, 825 F.2d 1121, 1127 (7th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1005, 98 L. Ed. 2d 649, 108 S. Ct. 697 (1988). Even if legislative action were involved, he could not challenge the use of these funds solely on the basis of his status as a taxpayer. "The expenditure of public funds in an allegedly unconstitutional manner is not an injury sufficient to confer standing, even though plaintiff contributes to the public coffers as a taxpayer." Valley Forge, 454 U.S. at 477. See Taub v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 842 F.2d 912, 918-919 (6th Cir.) (federal taxpayer standing rules applicable to state taxpayers), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 870, 102 L. Ed. 2d 148, 109 S. Ct. 179 (1988). Since Martin has not alleged any direct injury he suffered that was not shared by all the taxpayers in Illinois, he does not have standing to bring this claim.

 Martin also challenges the investment of money in a prisoners' account. From the passing reference in Martin's amended complaint to the prisoners' account, the court cannot determine the exact nature of that account. Consequently, the court cannot determine what type of injury Martin has allegedly suffered. Martin's standing, then, is questionable.

 Even if Martin could establish that he has standing to challenge the use of the funds in the account, he does not really state a claim. Martin is not alleging that his funds were treated differently than others' funds, in violation of equal protection. Nor can he complain of a denial of due process. Martin is correct in his assertion that there are provisions in Illinois law which suggest that state funds be invested in minority-owned banks. See Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 130 para. 20.1, § 1.1 (1989); Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 85 para. 907, § 7 (1989). The custodians of such funds, though, need only invest to the extent allowed by the Deposit of State Moneys Act and in line with the lawful and reasonable performance of their custodial duties. These provisions do not give rise to a right to have money invested in minority-owned institutions. Only those property interests to which plaintiffs have a legitimate claim of entitlement are protected by procedural due process. Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577, 33 L. Ed. 2d 548, 92 S. Ct. 2701 (1972). Therefore, Martin's claim fails.

 Martin aims his second attack at the hiring practices of the Department of Corrections. This claim is not an ordinary employment discrimination claim since Martin has not applied for a position with the Department of Corrections. (Martin's Deposition at 11 [hereinafter Dep.].) Martin is not even eligible for such a position considering his current situation. Again, attention must be given to Martin's standing. The problem, here, is his inability to allege injury-in-fact. In his amended complaint, Martin mentions loss of the benefit of interaction because blacks are not in policy-making positions. However, Martin goes no further in describing that benefit. An "alleged 'injury in fact' will not suffice if it is too speculative." Action Alliance of Senior Citizens of Greater Philadelphia v. Heckler, 252 U.S. App. D.C. 249, 789 F.2d 931, 937 (1986). Martin seems to be alleging something akin to a "stigmatizing injury often caused by racial discrimination." Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 755, 82 L. Ed. 2d 556, 104 S. Ct. 3315 (1984). For instance, he claims that he is subject to discrimination in each and every facet of prison life. (Plaintiff's Motion to Deny Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, at 1.) In Allen, the Court found that this injury could only be redressed through suit by "persons who are personally denied equal treatment by the challenged discriminatory conduct." Id. at 755. The court cannot conclude from Martin's vague allegations that he was personally denied equal treatment. Unfortunately, Martin offers no additional support in his affidavit or his deposition testimony. (Dep. at 14-15.)

 Further, the court has no reason to automatically assume that Martin was deprived of a benefit because non-blacks handled his case. The court has no reason to suppose that white or other minority persons would practice discrimination merely on the basis of race. See Lamar v. Whiteside, 606 F.2d 88, 88-89 (5th Cir. 1979) (in prisoners' suit challenging racial composition of staff of Board of Pardons and Paroles, "it is not enough . . . merely to speculate that an allegedly racially imbalanced work force will have discriminatory proclivities.") ...


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