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Akande v. Grounds

October 24, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge


THIS CAUSE comes before the Court on the defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 32). Plaintiff Adetunji Akande ("Akande") has responded to the motion (Doc. 41) and the defendants have replied to that response (Doc. 42).

I. Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate 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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The reviewing court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396. Where the moving party fails to meet its strict burden of proof, a court cannot enter summary judgment for the moving party even if the opposing party fails to present relevant evidence in response to the motion. Cooper v. Lane, 969 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992).

In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the pleadings but must present specific facts to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000). 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; accord Michas, 209 F.3d at 692.

II. Facts

Viewing all the relevant evidence and drawing all reasonable inferences in Akande's favor, the relevant evidence establishes the following facts for the purpose of this motion.

A. Akande's Employment

Akande began working for the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") in 1990. Over the years, he rose through the ranks until in January 2003 he was promoted to the position of clinical casework supervisor in the Clinical Services Department of Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"). The Clinical Services Department was responsible for the programs in which inmates participated. The clinical casework supervisor position was subject to the Illinois Personnel Code, 20 ILCS 415/1 et seq., and Illinois' Central Management Services' ("CMS") Personnel Rules, both of which provided that employees could not be terminated or demoted without good cause.

At the time Akande became a clinical casework supervisor, one other person was also in that position, Richard Cervantes ("Cervantes"). The clinical casework supervisors ranked above correctional counselors, who were responsible for handling complaints of inmates in the housing units, but below the clinical services supervisor. There were eight to ten correctional counselors at Robinson. A correctional officer also assisted with some clerical work in the department, including entering pre-hearing data on inmate tickets into IDOC's computerized disciplinary tracking system ("DTS").

The written job description for the clinical casework supervisor position included the following:

Under general direction of the Clinical Services Supv., Public Service Adm., directs the case management services program at Robinson Corr. Center; supervises delivery of counseling services as well as in-service training of counselors on the casework team; serves on various institutional committees; monitors in-patient substance abuse programs, orientation reviews and ensures compliance of policies and procedures.

1. Supervises staff; assigns work; approves time off; provides guidance and training; gives oral reprimands and effectively recommends grievance resolutions; completes and signs performance evaluations; establishes annual goals and objectives; counsels employees on problems with productivity and quality of work; determines staffing needs to achieve program objectives; reviews activity reports.

6. Serves on special committees such as institutional assignments committee, grievance committee, adjustment committee, Pre-start committee; serves as Team Leader or Team Member of the Pre-start Program; explains and interprets committee goals and objectives to staff to incorporate findings into program objectives.

7. Performs other duties as required or assigned which are reasonably within the scope of those enumerated above.

The job description envisioned that approximately 5% of a clinical casework supervisor's time would be spent serving on committees. In actuality, that estimate was usually inaccurate because the demands of individual institutions varied.

One of the duties expected of correctional casework supervisors under this job description was to serve on the adjustment committee, that is, to serve as a hearing officer for inmate disciplinary hearings for major infractions, or "major tickets." Hearings for major tickets required two hearing officers. Usually, when Cervantes was one of the hearing officers, he served as the chairman and entered data regarding those hearings into DTS. On some occasions, Akande, a correctional counselor or a correctional officer made the DTS entries for the major ticket hearings, even those Cervantes chaired. The warden would then retrieve the DTS data, review it and then decide whether to approve or modify the discipline recommended by the hearing officers. Each entry would take Cervantes approximately ten minutes, and ...

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