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THOMAS v. RAMOS

February 21, 1996

ANTHONY THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTHONY RAMOS, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, Chief Judge:

 Plaintiff Anthony Thomas brings this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against five employees of the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois, alleging that they deprived him of his constitutional rights during his incarceration at the facility. Presently before this court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff's motion to strike certain portions of the documents filed by the defendants in support of their motion. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to strike is granted in part and denied in part, and the motion for summary judgment is granted.

 I. Background1

 At the outset, we address the plaintiff's motion to strike portions of the defendants' Local Rule 12(N)(3)(b) statement and reply memorandum in support of the motion for summary judgment. Specifically, the plaintiff argues that the defendants' denials of paragraphs 16-22 and 33-37 of its Local Rule 12(N) statement are inadequate because they do not contain citations to specific portions of the record. We agree with the plaintiff that several of these denials are insufficient under the Local Rules. Accordingly, so long as the plaintiff's assertions in these paragraphs are supported with specific citations to evidence, we will deem them admitted. See Local Rule 12(M), 12(N)(3); Wienco, Inc. v. Katahn Assocs., Inc., 965 F.2d 565, 568 (7th Cir. 1992). However, we decline to strike the contested portions of pages 4, 6, and 7 of the defendants' reply memorandum, since these statements are more properly construed as argument rather than factual assertions. Accordingly, the plaintiff's motion to strike is granted in part and denied in part.

 At all times relevant to this case, Thomas was an inmate at Stateville serving a twelve year sentence for armed robbery. *fn2" On May 15, 1994, while other inmates were being escorted to the medical area of Stateville, Thomas decided to wander to another wing of the prison without obtaining permission. He was caught by Correctional Officer Dunlap, who claims that when he and three other officers approached Thomas and told him to return to his cell, Thomas threatened them and refused to follow their instructions. Thomas was immediately taken to segregation by one of the officers, Lieutenant Bagley, and later that day Dunlap wrote a disciplinary report against Thomas charging him with unauthorized movement, intimidation/threats, disobeying an order, and insolence.

 Pursuant to Illinois Department of Corrections regulations, Thomas was given a hearing on May 20, 1994, before an Adjustment Committee chaired by Defendant David Essenpreis, who was also the casework supervisor of the segregation unit where Thomas was being held. At that hearing Thomas admitted to being in an area without authorization, but denied the allegations that he had threatened the officers. The plaintiff also requested a continuance of the hearing in order to give Bagley an opportunity to corroborate his story. The Adjustment Committee agreed to continue the hearing and returned Thomas to segregation under "Investigative Status."

 On May 31, 1994, the Adjustment Committee reconvened, although this time Essenpreis and the other committee members from May 20 were not present. Rather, the May 31 Adjustment Committee was comprised of Defendants Margaret Thompson, Yolande Williams, and Leona Gregory. Thomas was not given notice of this second hearing, and did not appear before the Committee to tell his side of the story. After considering the written summary from the May 20 Adjustment Committee, and a written statement from Bagley confirming the accuracy of the disciplinary charge, the second Adjustment Committee found Thomas guilty of the infractions as charged. Thomas was sentenced to two months of commissary denial and a two month demotion to C-grade; however, the Adjustment Committee did not sentence the plaintiff to any time in segregation. Despite the absence of any sentence to disciplinary segregation, Thomas remained in segregation past May 31, 1994. Indeed, it is undisputed by the parties that, at the very earliest, Thomas was released from segregation on July 21, 1994--almost two months after the second Adjustment Committee ruled on the disciplinary charges against him. *fn3"

 While in segregation, Thomas contends that he was placed in a significantly more restrictive environment than that endured by inmates in the general population. He claims that while in segregation he spent almost all of his time in a cell as wide as his armspan and less than two times that distance in length, and was only allowed to see the medical staff visitors. Although Illinois Department of Corrections regulations require that inmates in segregation receive certain amenities, see 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.620, Thomas contends that the actual conditions in segregation are much different. For example, he claims that segregation inmates are precluded from participating in educational and work programs, as well as all other prison activities, and are prohibited from using the regular library, the day room, the telephones, or the gym. Although segregation inmates ostensibly possess law library privileges, Thomas contends that inmates actually wait for extended periods of time before being allowed to visit the law library, and even then direct access to the materials is prohibited. Instead, the segregation inmates are locked in small cages and have law books brought to them. *fn4" Although segregation inmates should be permitted to visit the yard for two hours each week, Thomas claims that during his more than two months in segregation he was never allowed out in the yard. *fn5"

 Thomas claims that he began verbally complaining to guards in the segregation unit as soon as he became aware that his sentence did not contain a term of confinement in segregation. On June 7, 1994, Thomas filed a formal grievance with his counselor demanding that he be released from segregation. The counselor's written response on June 13, 1994 stated that the Committee was still investigating Dunlap's charges against him and that Thomas was still being detained in segregation on Investigative Status. Thomas maintains that because the May 31 Adjustment Committee had resolved the charges against him by that time, he believes that his counselor's supervisor, Essenpreis, must have incorrectly told him that Thomas was under Investigative Status. Thomas also claims that he repeatedly informed Anthony Ramos, the Superintendent of Segregation Unit I, that he should be released from segregation. He claims that these conversations occurred both as Ramos made his weekly rounds to the cells, and on at least one occasion in Ramos's office. Thomas maintains that neither Ramos nor his counselor did anything to clear up the problem, and that his release from segregation only occurred because of the efforts of a social worker.

 While still in segregation Thomas filed this pro se complaint, although he subsequently retained counsel. His complaint names as defendants Margaret Thompson, Yolande Williams, and Leona Gregory, members of the May 31, 1994 Adjustment Committee, who he claims denied him due process at the hearing and failed to ensure that he was released from segregation after their ruling. The plaintiff also sues David Essenpreis, the Chairman of the May 20, 1994 Adjustment Committee and the casework supervisor of his segregation unit, claiming that he impeded the implementation of the sentence imposed by the May 31 Adjustment Committee. Finally, Thomas names Anthony Ramos, the superintendent of his segregation unit, for keeping him in segregation without any lawful justification. In addition, Thomas claims that Ramos is liable for failing to provide him with any yard time during his two month detention in the unit. The defendants now move for summary judgment, arguing that (1) the plaintiff received all the process he was due at the May 20 and May 31 Adjustment Committee hearings, (2) his extended detention in segregation was caused by no more than negligent conduct that cannot be found actionable under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, (3) he received access to the yard while in segregation, (4) the defendants lack personal involvement in the alleged constitutional violations, and (5) they are entitled to qualified immunity.

 II. Summary Judgment Standard

 Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). "Although we review the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, to avoid summary judgment that party must supply evidence sufficient to allow a jury to render a ...


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