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Curiel v. Stigler

March 31, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James B. Zagel United States District Judge


The plaintiff, a state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendants, officials at the Stateville Correctional Center, violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment. More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that during a prison-wide "shakedown," he was forced to stand handcuffed in a prison recreation yard in near-ninety-degree heat for several hours in pain and without being given food, water, or the opportunity to use the facilities. This matter is before the court for ruling on the defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted.

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Vision Church v. Village of Long Grove, 468 F.3d 975, 988 (7th Cir. 2006). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Walker v. Northeast Regional Commuter Railroad Corp., 225 F.3d 895, 897 (7th Cir. 2000).

However, Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, 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." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "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." Sarver v. Experian Information Solutions, 390 F.3d 969, 970 (7th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). The court may grant summary judgment if facts are in dispute, so long as those facts are not outcome determinative. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 840 (7th Cir. 2001); Nash v. DeTella, No. 00 C 2784, 2001 WL 1160840, *2 n. 5 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 2, 2001) (Zagel, J.)


The defendants filed a statement of uncontested material facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.). Together with their summary judgment motion, the defendants served on the plaintiff the required notice under Local Rule 56.2, advising the plaintiff what he needed to do to contest the motion, and specifically what he needed to do to dispute the defendants' statement of uncontested facts. Despite this, the plaintiff has not submitted a statement of contested facts with citations to the record; instead, he simply elaborates on or equivocates about certain facts in his opposing brief. But unsupported statements in a brief are not evidence and cannot be given any weight. See, e.g., Johnson v. Spiegel, Inc., No. 02 C 0680, 2002 WL 1880137, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15, 2002) (Pallmeyer, J.), citing In the Matter of Morris Paint and Varnish Co., 773 F.2d 130, 134 (7th Cir. 1985).

The plaintiff's failure to respond to the defendants' statements of material facts as directed warrants disregard of any contrary assertions he makes in his briefs. See Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003):

Local Rule 56.1's enforcement provision provides that when a responding party's statement fails to controvert the facts as set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts shall be deemed admitted for purposes of the motion. . . . We have consistently held that a failure to respond by the non-movant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission. See, e.g., Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 689 (7th Cir. 2000). A district court is not required to "wade through improper denials and legal argument in search of a genuinely disputed fact." Bordelon v. Chicago School Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). And a mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material. Edward E. Gillen Co. v. City of Lake Forest, 3 F.3d 192, 196 (7th Cir. 1993).

Nevertheless, because the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court will consider the factual assertions he makes in his brief, but only to the extent that the plaintiff could properly testify about the matters asserted at trial. Affidavits must concern facts about which the affiant is competent to testify, must be based on personal knowledge, and must set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Fed. R. Evid. 602. Furthermore, a party may not create an issue of fact with an affidavit containing assertions that contradict previous depositions or other sworn testimony. See, e.g., Ineichen v. Ameritech, 410 F.3d 956, 963 (7th Cir. 2005).

The court therefore finds that the following facts, gathered from the defendants' statement of facts, the plaintiff's deposition testimony, and other exhibits, are undisputed for purposes of this motion:

The plaintiff is a state prisoner, confined at the Stateville Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action. (Amended Complaint, p. 2, Section I.) Defendant Larry Stigler was the Tactical Team Commander at Stateville during the time period in question. (Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 2, ¶ 3.) Defendant Rodney Brady was a member of the Illinois Statewide Tactical Team at all times relevant to this action. (Id., ¶ 4.)

On September 1, 2005, Stateville's Tactical Team conducted a prison-wide shakedown of the facility. (Amended Complaint, p. 6.)

Between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m, all inmates in the plaintiff's cellhouse were placed in handcuffs and removed from their cells. (Defendants' Exhibit A, Deposition of José Curiel, at p. 19.) [The plaintiff was not wearing a watch during the shakedown and could only guess the approximate times outlined in this Facts section. (Id., p. 23.)]

When he was handcuffed, the plaintiff complained to a medical technician, who told him that he was probably "sore" but that the pain would go away. (Id., p. 31.)

The plaintiff and his fellow cellhouse occupants were first taken to the inmate dining room, where they remained for about an hour and a half to two hours for a roll call. (Id., p. 19.) The inmates were then escorted to the prison gymnasium, where they were all had to provide urine samples for analysis. (Id., p. 20.) Water was given to prisoners who could not urinate. (Id., pp. 21-22.) The inmates remained in the gym for about an hour or so. (Id., p. 22.)

At about 11:00 or 12:00, upon completing the urinalysis tests, the inmates were sent to the segregation yard while their cells were searched. (Id., p. 24.) The plaintiff and other prisons remained in the segregation yard between three and five hours*fn1 waiting for the tactical team to complete its search of the plaintiff's cellhouse. (Id., pp. 24, 28, 54.) Shakedowns at Stateville normally last ...

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