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Joyner v. Snyder

November 2, 2007

JERRY JOYNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD SNYDER, STEVEN C. BRYANT, AND KENNETH CRIPE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This cause is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 20). Defendants seek partial summary judgment in favor of Defendants Donald Snyder and Steven C. Bryant. For the reasons stated below, the Defendants' Motion is allowed.

FACTS

Plaintiff Jerry Joyner is an African-American homosexual man who was incarcerated at the State of Illinois' Graham Correctional Center (Graham) from 1999 to 2002. Defendant Kenneth Cripe supervised the preparation and service of inmate meals at Graham while Joyner was an inmate. Bryant served as the Graham Warden at this time, and Snyder was the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

On March 22, 2006, Joyner filed the instant Complaint (d/e 1) alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on deprivations of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Joyner alleges that Cripe regularly made derogatory comments to him regarding his sexual orientation and refused to provide him low-sodium diet trays of food. Joyner asserts that he filed internal Graham grievances against Cripe in April and December of 2001 and in January and March of 2002; in retaliation, Cripe threatened to have him placed in segregation, transferred to another facility, or subjected to "shakedowns" of his cell. According to Joyner, in early 2002, a prison officer performed a "shakedown" of his cell at Cripe's request.

The parties agree that on at least two occasions, Joyner asked Bryant to intervene with Cripe and stop Cripe's harassing behavior.*fn1 Joyner told Bryant he was afraid to go to the dining room because of Cripe's harassment. In approximately December of 2001, Bryant ordered an inquiry into Joyner's complaints against Cripe. A Lieutenant James Brookshire interviewed Cripe, Joyner, and other inmates and concluded that there was insufficient evidence of staff misconduct. Several months later, in April of 2002, Lieutenant Brookshire conducted another internal affairs investigation after another inmate also alleged misconduct by Cripe. During the course of this investigation, Lieutenant Brookshire learned of new allegations that Cripe mistreated Joyner. Again, though, Lieutenant Brookshire concluded that the evidence against Cripe was insufficient, and he recommended that the investigation be closed.

Inmates unhappy with the Graham administration's handling of a grievance could request a review by the Illinois Department of Corrections' Administrative Review Board (ARB). The ARB reviewed inmate correspondence and grievance appeals for Snyder. After Lieutenant Brookshire concluded in December of 2001 that insufficient evidence existed in support of Joyner's April 2001, and December 2001, grievances, Joyner requested an ARB review of his April 2001, grievance. The ARB concluded that the Graham administration had handled the matter appropriately. Snyder never reviewed Joyner's grievance appeal himself; an administrative designee did so on his behalf. Joyner failed to appeal any additional grievances, and Cripe never received disciplinary action regarding his alleged conduct toward Joyner.

On September 7, 2007, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 20) and supporting Memorandum (d/e 21) requesting summary judgment in favor of Snyder and Bryant on the merits and on qualified immunity grounds.

ANALYSIS

I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment must be granted "'if 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.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Herman v. Nat'l Broad. Co., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984). Once the moving party has produced evidence showing that it is entitled to summary judgment, the non-moving party must present evidence to show that issues of fact remain. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). "Summary judgment is appropriately entered 'against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'" McKenzie v. Ill. Dept. of Transp., 92 F.3d 473, 479 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). It is not a discretionary remedy; if the plaintiff lacks sufficient evidence, summary judgment must be granted. Jones v. Johnson, 26 F.3d 727, 728 (7th Cir. 1994).

To successfully oppose a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must do more than raise a "metaphysical doubt" as to the material facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 586. He must "come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587 (emphasis in original) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Id. In determining whether a genuine issue exists, courts should construe all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Moser v. Ind. Dept. of Corr., 406 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 2005). Courts are "not required to draw every conceivable inference from the record. [They] need draw only reasonable ones." Tyler v. Runyon, 70 F.3d 458, 467 (7th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks omitted).

II. JOYNER'S CLAIMS

Joyner alleges that all three Defendants violated his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Joyner's First Amendment claim rests on the principle that when a prison official retaliates against a prisoner for filing a grievance, that official violates the First Amendment. DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 618 (7th Cir. 2000). Joyner's Eighth Amendment claim alleges that Defendants imposed cruel and unusual punishment by denying him humane conditions of confinement. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. Wis. 2001). Finally, "[i]n the prison context, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires inmates to be treated equally, unless unequal treatment bears a rational relation to a legitimate penal interest." May v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 882 (7th Cir. 2000). Defendants argue that neither Snyder's nor Bryant's inaction violated any of the three Amendments and that both are entitled to ...


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