The opinion of the court was delivered by: Proud, Magistrate Judge
Before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 36) and Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Doc. 43).
Plaintiff Lee Holden Parker is a prisoner in the custody of the IDOC. He filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983. On preliminary review, Doc. 18, his claims were construed as follows:
Plaintiff claims that in December 2005, one of his registered visitors donated a wheelchair for Plaintiff's use. A month later, when he was transferred to Pinckneyville, he alleges that the wheelchair was confiscated. He filed grievances over this matter, but Defendant Dolce's response stated that there was no record of the chair's existence. Defendants Hicks, Bartley, Benton, and Walker each concurred, in turn, with Dolce's response, thus denying Plaintiff's grievance over the missing wheelchair. Plaintiff claims that this chain of denials was the result of a conspiracy of retaliation against him for his lengthy history of filing grievances and lawsuits against various individuals within the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Defendant Walker, Benton, Bartley, and Dolce have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which is supported by a memorandum and exhibits, including an affidavit. (Docs. 36 & 37). Defendants served the notice required by Lewis v. Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100, 102 (7th Cir. 1982). (Doc. 38). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition, which included a motion for partial summary judgment. (Docs. 42 & 43). Defendants replied to plaintiff's response at Doc. 45, and responded to plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment at Doc. 46. Parker then filed a reply at Doc. 48.
Defendants raise failure to exhaust administrative remedies and qualified immunity. Defendant Hicks entered his appearance after defendants' motion for summary judgment was filed. In his answer, Hicks raised failure to exhaust administrative remedies and qualified immunity. See, Doc. 44. Hicks joined in the reply and response to plaintiff's motion, Docs. 45 & 46. In view of the issues raised, the Court's ruling herein applies to defendant Hicks also.
1. Standard for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is appropriate under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). The evidence is construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and all justifiable inferences are drawn in favor of that party. See, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513-14 (1986).
Once the moving party has produced evidence to show that he or she is entitled to summary judgment,the non-moving party must affirmatively demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact remains for trial. Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). In responding to a summary judgment motion, the non-moving party may not simply reiterate the allegations contained in the pleadings; more substantial evidence must be presented at this stage. Moreover, a genuine issue of material fact is not shown 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). 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, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.
Prison officials may not retaliate against inmates for exercising their First Amendment rights. An act that is otherwise permissible may violate an inmate's rights if it is done for the purpose of retaliating for the inmate's filing of grievances or lawsuits. DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 618 (7th Cir. 2000).
The burden of proving a retaliation claim is heavy. Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d 267, 275 (7th Cir. 1996). In order to prevail on such a claim, a plaintiff must show that "(1) he engaged in a protected conduct; and (2) he was retaliated against for engaging in this conduct." DeWalt, 224 F.3d at 618. Further, the retaliatory motive must have been a "substantial or ...