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WATTS v. RAMOS

November 1, 1996

MCNEAL WATTS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTHONY RAMOS, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CASTILLO

 Plaintiff McNeal Watts filed a complaint in forma pauperis against defendant Anthony Ramos under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Watts, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, claims that Ramos, who was then managing the prison's segregation unit, violated Watts' Eighth Amendment rights by depriving him of all recreation time for over a year, from March 6, 1995 through March 9, 1996. Watts seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive and declaratory relief. Pending before the Court is Ramos' motion for summary judgment based on issue preclusion, absolute immunity and qualified immunity. The motion is denied in all aspects except with regard to absolute immunity, which protects Ramos from liability in his official capacity only.

 RELEVANT FACTS

 As required by Lewis v. Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100, 101-02 (7th Cir. 1982), Ramos notified Watts that, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e), factual assertions in Ramos' evidentiary materials will be taken as true unless Watts submits his own evidentiary material contradicting the assertion. Ramos submitted a Local Rule 12(M) statement of uncontested facts. *fn1" However, Watts failed to submit a Local Rule 12(N) statement responding to Ramos' statement of facts. *fn2" Therefore, Ramos' statement of facts is deemed admitted. See Local Rule 12(M) and 12(N)(3)(b) (all properly supported material facts set forth in either party's statement are deemed admitted unless properly controverted); see also Flaherty v. Gas Research Inst., 31 F.3d 451, 453 (7th Cir. 1994) (same). Because Watts is a pro se plaintiff and because both parties have made only legal, rather than factual, arguments, however, Watts' failure to comply with Local Rule 12(N) is not in itself fatal. The following recitation of facts is drawn from Ramos' Local Rule 12(M) statement and its exhibits.

 Plaintiff Watts is currently serving a thirty-one year sentence in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). At all times relevant to this action Watts was an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois. On January 19, 1995, Watts violated several prison rules. He assaulted two correctional officers while he was being taken to the Health Care Unit ("HCU") and later set a blanket and a mattress on fire in the HCU. Watts apparently claimed that he "accidentally" assaulted the first officer, that he was blind and confused from pepper gas (presumably used to subdue him) when he assaulted the second officer, and that he inadvertently set the blanket and mattress on fire when he dropped a lit cigarette. Def.'s Exs. A-6 to A-16.

 On January 26 and 27, 1995, Watts was found guilty of all four violations (two counts of assault and two counts of arson) by the Stateville Adjustment Committee. His sentence from the Committee included a total of two years in "I-House," Stateville's segregation unit, as well as the revocation of statutory good time credits, demotion to C-Grade, denial of commissary and audio/visual privileges, and restitution. Watts does not contest the findings or the sentencing of the Committee.

 Defendant Ramos was the manager of I-House when Watts was assigned to segregation. As such, Ramos was a designee of the Warden and had the authority to impose recreation restrictions on I-House inmates under certain circumstances. Although most restrictions are based on the inmate's behavior while in segregation, IDOC's Administrative Directive 05.03.140A ("the Directive") allowed Ramos to place a 90-day restriction on any inmate in I-House who had been found guilty of, among other things, assault or arson, whether those acts were committed before or after the inmate entered segregation. *fn3" Def.'s Ex. B-2. Ramos imposed upon Watts four consecutive 90-day restrictions, one for each infraction committed on January 19. Added together, the restrictions denied Watts recreation from March 6, 1995 through March 9, 1996. Watts claims that he suffered from stress and sleeplessness as a result of the restrictions imposed by Ramos, against whom he seeks damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.

 LEGAL STANDARDS

 Summary judgment is proper only if the record shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A genuine issue for trial exists only when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The court must view all evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Valley Liquors, Inc. v. Renfield Importers, Ltd., 822 F.2d 656, 659 (7th Cir. 1987), and draw all inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Santiago v. Lane, 894 F.2d 218, 221 (7th Cir. 1990). However, if the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; Flip Side Prods., Inc. v. Jam Prods., Ltd., 843 F.2d 1024, 1032 (7th Cir. 1988).

 In determining whether a genuine issue exists, the court "must view the evidence presented through the prism of the substantive evidentiary burden." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254. In making its determination, the court's sole function is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to support a verdict in the nonmovant's favor. Credibility determinations, weighing evidence, and drawing reasonable inferences are jury functions, not those of a judge when deciding a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 255.

 ANALYSIS

 I. ISSUE PRECLUSION

 Ramos' first contention is that he is entitled to summary judgment on the ground of issue preclusion. Ramos relies on Davenport v. DeRobertis, a class action suit brought by Stateville segregation inmates *fn4" that involved the amount of out-of-cell recreation afforded such inmates as a matter of segregation policy. See Davenport v. DeRobertis, 653 F. Supp. 649 (N.D. Ill. 1987), aff'd, 844 F.2d 1310 (7th Cir. 1988). After hearing extensive testimony concerning the mental and physical effects of "prolonged idleness and isolation," the jury found that Stateville's practice of allowing segregation inmates only one hour of out-of-cell recreation per week constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Id. at 655-57. The court issued an injunction requiring Stateville to increase out-of-cell recreation time from one hour to five hours per week. Id. at 664. The injunction stated, however, that "reasonable exceptions" to the five hour minimum could be made for certain fractious inmates. Id. Subject to this exception, the court approved the Directive, which set forth procedures for recreation restrictions that had been agreed upon by the parties. The same Directive remains in effect today, and provides the set of rules under which Ramos imposed 360 days without recreation on Watts. Ramos claims that the reasonable exception for fractious inmates allowed by the court's injunction in Davenport, coupled with that court's approval of the Directive, preclude any segregation inmate from challenging actions taken under the Directive. This Court disagrees.

 An issue is precluded, or barred from further adjudication, when: (1) the same issue was involved in a prior judicial proceeding, (2) the issue actually was litigated, (3) the issue was resolved, and (4) the issue's determination was necessary to the judgment in the prior proceeding. See Bailey v. Andrews, 811 F.2d 366, 369 (7th Cir. 1987). Courts are reluctant to apply the doctrine when the defendant claims that a class action suit challenging general guidelines (such as the one in Davenport) should preclude an individual claim challenging the application of those guidelines (such as Watts' claim). See Cooper v. Federal Reserve Bank, 467 U.S. 867, 876, 81 L. Ed. 2d 718, 104 S. Ct. 2794 (1984); Hiser v. Franklin, 94 F.3d 1287, 1290-91 (9th Cir. 1996); Cameron v. Tomes, 990 F.2d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 1993). In the present case, Ramos fails to convince the Court that this reluctance should be overcome. Although Ramos arguably satisfies the first element (the prior proceeding involved the same issue), he clearly fails to satisfy the remaining three elements of the test, and indeed did not even address the last element. The plaintiffs in Davenport challenged a one hour per week recreation policy. None of them, so far as the record shows, were subjected to any special restrictions beyond this one hour guideline. The issue of further restrictions ...


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