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Ware v. Randolph

September 24, 2008

ERIC WARE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AUSTIN RANDOLPH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court are the defendants', Bart Brown, Martha Endres Ed Huggins, Matt Rains, Austin Randolph and Ruth Woods, summary judgment motion [108], the plaintiff's response [118] and the defendants' reply [123].

Standard

Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Any discrepancies in the factual record should be evaluated in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

"Summary judgment is the 'put up or shut up' moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2000). A party opposing summary judgment bears the burden to respond, not simply by resting on its own pleading but by "set[ting] out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In order to be a "genuine" issue, there must be more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "If [the non-movant] does not [meet his burden], summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against [the non-movant]." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

Affidavits must be based on the personal knowledge of the affiant and "set out facts that would be admissible in evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (emphasis added). Personal knowledge may include inferences and opinions drawn from those facts. Visser v. Packer Eng. Assoc., Inc., 924 F.2d 655, 659 (7th Cir. 1991). "But the inferences and opinions must be grounded in observation or other first-hand personal experience. They must not be based on flights of fancy, speculations, hunches, intuitions or rumors remote from that experience." Visser, 924 F.2d at 659.

Background

The plaintiff Eric Ware, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections, brought the instant suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights while he was incarcerated at Illinois River Correctional Center. See Plaintiff's amended complaint [76]. In his amended complaint, the plaintiff claims against these defendants as follows:

1. Defendants Huggins and Randolph violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights when they refused to allow him to mail correspondence and letters with drawings and/or notes on the envelopes.

2. Defendant Huggins and Randolph violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when they subjected him to second hand smoke although Plaintiff is asthmatic.

3. Defendants Brown and Rains retaliated against him and violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights when they issued Plaintiff an investigation ticket and placed him in segregation because he filed the instant lawsuit.

4. Defendant Randolph violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights when Plaintiff was placed in segregation under investigation for charging inmates for completion of their legal work and then transferred to another institution.

5. Defendants Endres and Woods violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights when they refused to allow him emergency medical attention, refused to give him grievance forms, and refused to allow him access to the law library on 3/20/07.

Defendants deny violating Plaintiff's constitutional rights and seek summary judgment in their favor and against Plaintiff.

Undisputed material Facts*fn1

1. Illinois River Correctional Center has a regulation that prevents inmates from mailing envelopes with drawings or writing on them other than the mailing address, return address, and/or notation indicating if it is privileged. (Affidavit of Austin Randolph ("Randolph Affidavit"), attached as Exhibit A).

2. The regulation at issue in this case was implemented on September 1, 2005, by former Warden Hulick in Warden's Bulletin No. 2005-07 RE: Defacing or Alteration of Inmate Correspondence. (Randolph Affidavit).

3. Specifically, the regulation states "Effective September 1, 2005, outgoing envelopes (write-outs) are NOT to have drawings or writing on them, other than the mailing address, return address, and/or notation indicating if a mailing is legal or privileged. Mail received in the mailroom found to be out of compliance with this directive will be sent back to the sender." (Randolph Affidavit).

4. Plaintiff claims that he was prevented from mailing two letters due to this regulation. (Deposition of Eric Ware ("Dep."), attached as Exhibit B, at p. 47).

5. First, Plaintiff attempted to mail a letter in an envelope with a handwritten "notice" on the outside stating something to the effect of "[y]our bank will be sued." (Dep. at pp. 41-42).

6. The contents of this letter were returned to Plaintiff with a notice informing him why it was not mailed. (Dep. at p. 43).

7. Next, Plaintiff attempted to mail an envelope with an altered return address. (Dep. at p. 46).

8. This letter was also returned, but was mailed out the second time Plaintiff sent it. (Dep. at p. 47).

9. Plaintiff admits that he was aware of the regulation when he attempted to mail the two letters. (Dep. at p. 45).

10. Plaintiff testified that he decided to violate the policy anyway "[b]ecause the warden don't have jurisdiction to bridge my first amendment rights..." and because "I just didn't want to do it like that." (Dep. at p. 45 & p. 48).

11. Defendant Brown recalls that former Warden Hulick implemented the instant regulation in an effort to clean up the outgoing mailings and to avoid the possibility of messages being passed on the outside of an envelope. (Affidavit of Bart Brown "Brown Affidavit", attached as Exhibit C).

12. The mailroom always refused to mail out envelopes with obscene drawings, gang insignia, or hidden messages of a security threat group. (Brown Affidavit).

13. Prior to this policy being initiated, the mailroom staff would have had to make judgment calls as to whether a particular drawing or ...


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