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Ruffin v. Pierce

January 10, 2006

JOHNNY M. RUFFIN, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
GUY PIERCE, AND KAREN MCKINNEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Proud, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Before the Court is defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment with Supporting Brief. (Doc. 226). As plaintiff is pro se, the Court served upon him the notice required by Lewis v. Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100 (7th Cir. 1982). (Doc. 227). Plaintiff filed a Response, Doc. 228, and an Amended Response, Doc. 249. Defendants filed a Reply. (Doc. 229).

Nature of Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff Johnny M. Ruffin is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. The operative complaint is the Amended Complaint, Doc. 45. Count 5 is the only Count now pending.

Plaintiff is paralyzed on his right side, and uses a wheelchair. In Count 5, plaintiff alleges that defendants Pierce and McKinney implemented, designed, or dictated policies or customs at Pinckneyville which violated the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794, and that correctional officers (and former defendants) Runyon, Sellers, and Poninski enforced the policies against him on February 5, 2001. At that time, Pierce was the Warden and McKinney was the ADA Coordinator at Pinckneyville. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Pinckneyville follows a policy or custom of confiscating the wheelchair leg supports from disabled inmates in the segregation unit. He asserts that he is being denied access to his leg supports in violation of the Rehabilitation Act.

Defendants Pierce and McKinney are sued in their official capacities only. Doc. 45, paragraphs 8B and 8C. Runyon, Sellers, and Poninski were sued in their individual capacities only. Doc. 45, paragraphs 5, 6, and 7. Count 5 was dismissed as to Runyon, Sellers, and Poninski because there is no individual liability under the Rehabilitation Act. See, Doc. 149, pp. 4-5.

Plaintiff prays for actual and punitive damages. He does not seek prospective injunctive relief. Doc. 45, p. 6, paragraph V. Plaintiff now concedes that he cannot recover punitive damages under the Rehabilitation Act. See, Doc. 249, p. 8.

Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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); see, Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). The evidence is construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and all justifiable inferences are drawn in favor of that party. See, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513-14 (1986).

Once the moving party has produced evidence to show that he is entitled to summary judgment, the nonmoving party must affirmatively demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact remains for trial.Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir.1996). In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party may not simply reiterate the allegations contained in the pleadings. "The object of [Rule 56(e) ] is not to replace conclusory allegations of the complaint or answer with conclusory allegations of an affidavit." Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3188 (1990).

A genuine issue of material fact is not shown by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, 106 S.Ct. at 2510, or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists only if "a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.

Summary judgment is not barred by the mere existence of some factual dispute. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; see also, JPM Inc. v. John Deere Industrial Equipment Company, 94 F.3d 270, 273 (7th Cir. 1996). Only disputes as to facts that might affect the outcome of the suit in light of the substantive law are sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Disputes as to irrelevant or unnecessary facts do not preclude summary judgment. Clifton v. Schafer, 969 F.2d 278, 281 (7th Cir. 1992).

Even in the absence of a dispute as to the material facts, the moving party must demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. "Thus, even where many or all of the material facts are undisputed, the court still must ascertain that judgment is proper 'as a matter of governing law.' [internal ...


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