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GEDER v. GODINEZ

January 17, 1995

SELMA GEDER, Plaintiff,
v.
SALVADOR A. GODINEZ, MELVIN ALLEN, L. MANNING, D. WILLIAMS, A. JOHNSON, T. CLEVENGER, F. MUSSATTO, J. ACOSTA and JOHN DOE'S AND JANE DOE'S OF I.D.O.C., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELAINE E. BUCKLO

 Prison inmate Selma Geder brought this action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, contending that several prison officials violated his constitutional rights. Defendants now move for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56. For the reasons set forth below, their motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 Facts

 Selma Geder ("Mr. Geder"), proceeding pro se, is incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") in Joliet, Illinois. Defendants are the following employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections at Stateville: Warden Salvador A. Godinez ("Mr. Godinez"), Grievance Officer Melvin Allen ("Mr. Allen"), Correctional Officer Lieutenant Luther Manning ("Lt. Manning"), Correctional Officer Darryl Williams ("Mr. Williams"), and Adjustment Committee members Adrienne Johnson ("Ms. Johnson"), Timothy Clevenger ("Mr. Clevenger"), Frank Mussatto ("Mr. Mussatto"), and Jose Acosta ("Mr. Acosta").

 On the evening of October 15, 1991, Mr. Geder was issued a disciplinary report (known as a "ticket") for Insolence and Disobeying a Direct Order. The basis for the ticket is contested by the parties. According to the defendants, Mr. Geder was walking out of the Unit B-West Tunnel toward the Commissary past approximately ten other inmates on the morning of October 14, 1991. Lt. Manning ordered Mr. Geder to return to the B-West Tunnel three times, telling him to wait in line like the other inmates. Defendants claim that after Mr. Geder ignored the orders, Lt. Manning directed Mr. Geder to surrender his identification card three times, but Mr. Geder refused and proceeded to walk away from the B-West Tunnel Gate. At that point, Lt. Manning cuffed Mr. Geder's hands and placed him in administrative segregation pending an investigation of the incident.

 According to Mr. Geder, Lt. Manning asked him to return to the B-West Tunnel without provocation, and he immediately complied. Nevertheless, when Mr. Geder arrived at the B-West Tunnel Gate, Lt. Manning cuffed his hands and walked him to segregation. On the way to segregation, Lt. Manning told Mr. Geder that because he continued to file grievances against Lt. Manning's co-workers, Lt. Manning would ensure that Mr. Geder would be "out of the way" during the upcoming Audit Inspection so that he could not discuss his grievances with anyone. Mr. Geder remained in segregation until October 29, 1991.

 On October 21, 1991, an Adjustment Committee convened a hearing on the disciplinary report. At the hearing, Mr. Geder pleaded not guilty, requested permission to take a polygraph test, and requested that Sergeant Tadlock ("Sgt. Tadlock") be allowed to appear as a witness on his behalf. The hearing was continued for further investigation. On October 24, 1991, Mr. Geder filed an emergency grievance with Mr. Godinez in which he requested an immediate release from segregation and permission to take a polygraph test. In the grievance, Mr. Geder also stated that several of the statements he had made at the hearing were either misquoted in, or omitted from, the Adjustment Committee Summary. On October 28, 1991, Mr. Godinez denied Mr. Geder's grievance, and forwarded it to the institutional Grievance Officer, Mr. Allen.

 On October 29, 1991, the Adjustment Committee reconvened to consider the disciplinary report. The Committee considered the testimony of witnesses Sgt. Tadlock and Mr. Williams, as well as the positive photo identification of Mr. Geder by Lt. Manning. However, Mr. Geder was not present. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee found Mr. Geder guilty of the violations and recommended that he be disciplined with placement in segregation for fifteen days, demotion to C-grade for one month, and denial of commissary privileges for three months. An executive designee of Mr. Godinez approved and signed the Adjustment Committee Summary. On November 1, 1991, Mr. Allen received Mr. Geder's grievance of October 24, 1991. Mr. Allen denied the grievance on December 17, 1991, and Mr. Godinez concurred in the denial of Mr. Geder's grievance.

 In this action, Mr. Geder alleges that defendants violated his constitutional rights by (1) fabricating the disciplinary ticket in retaliation for his filing of grievances relating to poor prison conditions, (2) denying his repeated requests to take a polygraph test, (3) refusing to watch the film from a camera located at the B-West Tunnel Gate which allegedly recorded the events at issue, (4) misquoting his statements on the Adjustment Committee report, (5) denying him the opportunity to attend the October 29, 1991 hearing, (6) placing him in segregation during the investigation, (7) failing to provide him with his court documents and other personal property during his stay in segregation, and (8) failing to improve Stateville's living conditions.

 Analysis

 Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56. The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden of submitting affidavits and other evidentiary material to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Once the moving party has sustained the initial burden, the opposing party may not avoid judgment by resting upon the mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, but instead must come forward with specific evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra, 477 U.S. at 324. However, pro se litigants are not held to the same stringent standards as formally trained attorneys, and their pleadings are to be liberally construed. Harms v. Godinez, 829 F. Supp. 259, 261 (N.D. Ill. 1993) (citing Caldwell v. Miller, 790 F.2d 589, 595 (7th Cir. 1986)); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted).

 A. Official Capacity Claims

 Mr. Geder has sued all defendants in their official and individual capacities. However, all of the named defendants are state prison officials. A suit for damages against a state official acting in his or her official capacity is a suit against the state, and is barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Estate of Porter v. State of Illinois, 36 F.3d 684, 690 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted); Duckworth v. Franzen, 780 F.2d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 816, 93 L. Ed. 2d 28, 107 S. Ct. 71 (1986) (citations omitted); Hawkins v. O'Leary, 729 F. Supp. 600, 601 ...


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