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Parker v. Evans

March 28, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stiehl, District Judge


Before the Court is a Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Clifford J. Proud that defendants' Evans and Williams motion for summary judgment be granted (Doc. 74). The Magistrate Judge further recommends that plaintiff's motion for default as to defendant Rennison (Doc. 73) be granted. The plaintiff has filed objections to the recommendation as it applies to the motion for summary judgment (Doc. 75 and 76) therefore, the Court will make a de novo review of those portions of the record to which objections were made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

The plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections and filed an amended complaint against defendants John Evans, Lt. Williams, and Colleen Rennison*fn1 seeking to recover for alleged violation of his rights to access to the Court (Counts 1 and 2). Plaintiff alleges that sometime in 2004 he prepared a lawsuit ("2004 action") against some 46 individuals of the IDOC, which he sought to file in federal court. The 2004 action sought certification as a class action, claiming financial corruption, inmate abuse, and violations of inmates' constitutional rights. It was, according to the record, some 173 pages long with 334 pages of exhibits, and comprised of 35 separate counts. Plaintiff alleges in this action that in 2004 he asked defendant Rennison to make copies of that lawsuit for him (she is the librarian at Pinckneyville Correctional Center) and that she refused to make the copies he requested. He also alleges that defendant Evans, the Warden, conspired with her to violate his constitutional rights and, effectively, sanctioned her actions by failing to respond to plaintiff's grievances filed against Rennison, and, finally, that defendant Williams confiscated the master copy of his complaint and exhibits as part of a shake-down of plaintiff's cell. Plaintiff alleges that those documents have never been recovered.*fn2


A district court will grant summary judgment "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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c): see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322--23 (1986); Popovits v. Circuit City Stores, Inc., 185 F.3d 726, 731 (7th Cir. 1999). The moving party initially bears the burden to demonstrate an absence of genuine issues of material fact, indicating that judgment should be granted as a matter of law. See, Lindemann v. Mobil Oil Corp., 141 F.3d 290, 294 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). Once a motion for summary judgment has been made and properly supported, however, the non-movant has the burden of setting forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. See, id. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court construes all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all reasonable and justifiable inferences in that party's favor. See, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court will not resolve factual disputes, weigh conflicting evidence, or make credibility determinations. See, Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001); Miranda v. Wisconsin Power & Light Co., 91 F.3d 1011, 1014 (7th Cir. 1996).


1. Issues Related to the Copying of Plaintiff's Complaint

A. Claims against Rennison

There is a two-part test to determine if prison administrators have violated an inmate's right of access to the courts. First, the prisoner must show that the officials, "failed to assist in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoner with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Jenkins v. Lane, 977 F.2d 266, 268 (7th Cir. 1992). Second, the prisoner must show "some quantum of detriment caused by the challenged conduct of state officials resulting in the interruption and/or dely of plaintiff's pending or contemplated litigation." Alston v. DeBruyn,13 F.3d 1036, 1041 (7th Cir. 1994); Jenkins, 977 F.2d at 268.

The Court has reviewed the record in this case and FINDS that plaintiff's objections with respect to the magistrate's recommendation on this point are without merit. Plaintiff's cause of action is based on his claim that defendant Rennison acted to interfere with his right of access to the courts when she did not assist him in copying the complaint and exhibits for his 2004 action in accordance with his demands, and that defendant Evans conspired with her by failing to timely and properly deal with his grievances related to those claims. Specifically, plaintiff asserts that Rennison would not do the following:

1. Make copies of the 173 page complaint and 334 pages of exhibits for all 46 named defendants;

2. Reduce 84 pages of exhibit materials that were on legal size paper to letter sized paper for purposes of filing;

3. Supply him with service of process, USM-285 forms and attach them to the ...

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