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Barker v. Todd

September 28, 2009

ROMARIS BARKER (R-72114), PLAINTIFF,
v.
HOWARD TODD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George W. Lindberg

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Romaris Barker filed suit, pro se, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights after he was assaulted by another inmate at the Lake County (Illinois) Jail. Presently before the Court are Defendant Howard Todd's motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons stated in this order, Todd's motion is granted, and Plaintiff's motion is denied.

Summary judgment is proper 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." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323 (1986). All of the evidence and the reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the evidence are viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Miller v. American Family Mutual Ins., 203 F.3d 997, 1003 (7th Cir. 2000). Summary judgment may be granted when no "reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). However, a party cannot defeat summary judgment by relying on unsubstantiated facts or by merely resting on its pleadings. See Hemsworth, II v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Greer v. Board of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 729 (7th Cir. 2001). Instead, the party that bears the burden of proof on an issue must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that a genuine issue of material fact exists that requires a trial. See Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490.

When Defendant filed his motion for summary judgment, he included a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment," as required by Timms v. Frank, 953 F.2d 281, 285 (7th Cir. 1992); Lewis v. Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100, 102 (7th Cir. 1982). This notice clearly sets out the requirements of this Court's Local Rule 56.1. In particular, the notice explains that Plaintiff's response must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) and Local Rule 56.1.

Local Rule 56.1(b) requires a party opposing a motion for summary judgment to file:

(3) a concise response to the movant's statement that shall contain:

(A) a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon, and

(B) a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.

L.R. 56.1(b). The district court may require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1. See Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Serv., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004); Bordelon v. Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir 2000) (strict compliance with the local rules governing summary judgment is upheld, given the importance of local rules that structure the summary judgment process); United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991) ("Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs"). Although pro se plaintiffs are entitled to lenient standards, they are required to comply with procedural rules. Members v. Paige, 140 F.3d 699, 702 (7th Cir. 1998) ("[R]ules apply to uncounseled litigants and must be enforced"); Jones v. Phipps, 39 F.3d 158, 163 (7th Cir.1994); Fischer v. Ameritech, No. 98 C 7470, 2002 WL 1949726, *4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 23, 2002) (Pallmeyer, J.).

Despite being given notice that his response to Defendant's motion must comply with Rule 56(e) and Local Rule 56.1, Plaintiff's response is deficient. In response to Defendant's motion, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, a memorandum in support of his motion, and a "statement of material facts." However, none of Plaintiff's proposed facts includes a reference to the affidavits, parts of the record, or other supporting materials on which Plaintiff is relying to support those facts. If Plaintiff is attempting to dispute Defendant's proposed facts with this same document, it is deficient for the same reason: contrary to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3), Plaintiff fails to support his disagreement with the proposed undisputed facts with any specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, or other supporting materials on which he is relying to dispute those facts.

Since Plaintiff's filings are not in compliance with Rule 56.1(b)(3), Defendant's proposed undisputed facts are deemed admitted. See Chelios v. Heavener, 520 F.3d 678, 687 (7th Cir. 2008); L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). However, because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will consider the factual assertions he makes in his response, but only to the extent that he could properly testify about the matters asserted at trial -- that is, only with respect to those facts within Plaintiff's personal knowledge. See Fed. R. Evid. 602.

UNDISPUTED FACTS

On March 5, 2008, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee in the Administrative Segregation Unit ("ASU") of the Lake County Jail ("Jail"). (Def.'s 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 5.) Donovan Wheeler was also an inmate in the ASU on that day. (Id., ¶ 7.) Defendant Todd was a correctional officer assigned to work in the ASU. (Id., ¶ 6.)

In the ASU, each inmate is provided one hour out of his cell on a daily basis for activities such as recreation, showering, and phone use. (Def.'s 56.1(a)(3) Statement ΒΆ 8.) Only one inmate at a time is supposed to be ...


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