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Thomas v. Winters

August 31, 2006

WILLIE LEE THOMAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KEVIN L. WINTERS ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

Order

The defendants' motion for summary judgment is before the court. The motion is granted for the reasons below.

Summary Judgment Standard

A party moving for summary judgment must show, from the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, . . ." that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the "moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986);Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c). This burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994).

In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). The question is " . . . whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

Claims Remaining

On July 20, 2005, the court dismissed all the plaintiff's claims save two:

1. The following cell conditions the plaintiff endured at Western Illinois Correctional Center amounted to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment:

"Mattresses are torn and filthy."

"Toilets don't flush properly, the human bodily waste is running back and forth, from cell to cell, next door to next door."

"Cell walls and doors within the cells are filthy and all kinds of gang graffiti and food on cell walls and doors."

"Air vents and heat vents are filthy within the cells and units."

"Dietary is not giving a wholesome meal to inmates at every meal, nor with salt and pepper."

2. The defendants unconstitutionally prohibited the plaintiff from sending mail to his family or to the IDOC director during the plaintiff's incarceration at Western Illinois Correctional Center.

Undisputed Facts

These facts are taken, essentially verbatim, from the defendant's proposed undisputed facts (d/e 69, pp. 2-10), to the extent relevant and supported by their cites to the record, and to the extent not disputed by the plaintiff. Unless otherwise stated, cites to the record refer to the defendants' memorandum in support of their summary judgment motion, docket number 69.

General Background

1. The allegations in the Complaint concern the Western Illinois Correctional Center. The Court notes that the exact time frame and duration of the plaintiff's stay at Western are not clear. It appears that the plaintiff was incarcerated in about 15 different cells at Western from fall, 2003 to sometime in 2005, about seven of which were segregation cells. (See Complaint (d/e 9); Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, d/e 56; Plaintiff's Aff., d/e 75, ¶13).

2. Kevin Winters was the Chief Administrative Officer at Western Illinois Correctional Center.

3. Roger Zimmerman was and is an Assistant Warden at Western.

4. Sandra Funk was also an Assistant Warden at Western.

5. Major Scott McKee was and is over Internal Affairs at Western.

6. The Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at the Western Illinois Correctional Center.

Food

6. At his deposition, the Plaintiff testified that, upon his arrival at Western Illinois Correctional Center, he was feed less food than he had previously received at Lawrence Correctional Center. (Plaintiff's Dep. at 44).

7. The Plaintiff is approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs approximately 210 pounds. (Plaintiff's Dep. at 45-46).

8. The Plaintiff testified that he lost a lot of weight at Western, but did not remember how much. He did not remember even if he lost at least five pounds. (Plaintiff's Dep. at 47).

9. The Plaintiff does not recall having to get a smaller pant size while he was at Western Illinois Correctional Center. (Plaintiff's Dep. at 49).

10. Meals are prepared and made available to offenders at Western Illinois Correctional Center three times daily. (Affidavit of Martha Fluckey at ¶ 2, Exhibit 4).

11. According to Fluckey, the menu provided to offenders at Western Illinois Correctional Center meets or exceeds the minimal nutritional and caloric requirements as established by the National Academy of Sciences. (Fluckey Affidavit, ¶3). She attaches menus for the time period October 31, 2004 to November 13, 2004, which she avers are representative of the meals provided inmates. The plaintiff avers, however, that, "Food was often served wih missing menu items and much smaller portions than the menu specified." (Plaintiff's Aff., d/e 72, ¶ 8).

Mail

12. At his deposition, the Plaintiff stated that he had been able to send a grievance to the Warden and to the Director's office, without interference, while at Western Illinois Correctional Center. (Plaintiff's Dep. at 50-51).

13. The Plaintiff claims that a letter to the Director did not go out when it was supposed to, but he admits that the letter did reach the Director eventually. (Plaintiff's Dep. at 52).

14. The Plaintiff received mail from his mother and his "girl" while he was at Western Illinois Correctional Center. (Plaintiff's Dep. at 52).

15. The Plaintiff claims that he wrote his mother and girlfriend weekly, while at Western Illinois Correctional Center, but that they never ...


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