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Sharp v. Franklin

February 26, 2010

CHARLES SHARP (B-64625), PLAINTIFF,
v.
COLLEEN FRANKLIN, SANDRA HAWKINS AND JOHNNIE FRANKLIN,*FN1 DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Ronald A. Guzman United States Judge

Judge Ronald A. Guzmán

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Charles Sharp has sued Stateville Correctional Center employees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that: (1) Colleen Franklin, his inmate counselor, ignored his complaints about abuse he suffered at the hands of another correctional officer and retaliated against him for filing a grievance about her conduct; (2) Johnnie Franklin, who is Colleen's husband as well as a Stateville employee, threatened plaintiff; and (3) Sandra Hawkins, a Stateville grievance counselor, ignored plaintiff's grievances. Defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.

Facts

Plaintiff was incarcerated at Stateville in 2005. In April 2005, Correctional Officer Paul Buchanan used excessive force against plaintiff. (R. 1, Compl. at 6.) Plaintiff complained about the excessive force, but Colleen Franklin (plaintiff's counselor at Stateville) ignored his complaints. On June 6, 2005, plaintiff filed a grievance about Colleen Franklin's unprofessional conduct, asserting that she spent much of her time talking to her husband (Johnnie Franklin) instead of tending to the prisoners in her area of the prison. (R. 80-2, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt., Ex. G (grievance); Ex. C, Pl.'s Dep. at 16-17.) Because plaintiff checked the box on the grievance form indicating that it was an emergency, the grievance was not reviewed by Sandra Hawkins (grievance counselor), but instead by Warden Deirdre Battaglia, who determined that the grievance was not an emergency and returned it with the instruction that plaintiff refile it not as an emergency. (R. 80-2, Ex. G.) Plaintiff did not refile the grievance, possibly because he did not receive Battaglia's response until after he was transferred to another prison. (R. 80-2, Ex. C, Pl.'s Dep. at 17.)

Between June 10th and 20th, plaintiff asked Colleen Franklin several times about the grievance, but he did not get a response. (Id. at 19-20.) On June 22, 2005, plaintiff wrote a letter to Colleen Franklin, stating that he needed to speak to her "face to face as my counselor." Plaintiff stated that Colleen Franklin had not provided plaintiff with copies of his grievances or his affidavit. Plaintiff further stated, "what I need to talk to you about is very detrimental to your marriage. I mean no harm nor do I need any trouble. If your husband or anyone else messes with me about the letter, I will go public with what I know starting with the warden" which will "jeopardize your job." Plaintiff threatened that if Colleen Franklin did not speak to him by Wednesday of the following week, "I'm going to the warden, your husband, Springfield." (R. 80-2, Ex. D.) According to plaintiff, his threats were meant to get Colleen Franklin's attention so that he could talk to her about other issues, such as his ailing mother, going to the funeral if she died, and getting his cellmate's property back for him. (R. 84-2, Ex. C, Pl.'s Dep. at 24-25.)

On June 24, 2005, Colleen Franklin met with plaintiff, spoke to him about the letter, his ailing relative, and then issued him a disciplinary ticket for having written the letter. (R. 84-2, Ex. C, Pl.'s Dep. at 27; R. 80-2, Ex. E, Stateville Adjustment Committee Report.) The disciplinary ticket charged plaintiff with intimidation or threats, bribery or extortion, and sexual misconduct (plaintiff asked Colleen Franklin if he could masturbate in front of her). (R. 80-2, Ex. E) (the masturbation comment may have been made at a different time than the 6/24/05 conversation); (R. 80-2, Ex. C, Pl.'s Dep. at 27.) Plaintiff alleges that Officer Buchanan, upon learning of the disciplinary ticket, again beat plaintiff. (R. 1, Compl. at 9-10.)

At the disciplinary hearing, the Adjustment Committee, satisfied with Colleen Franklin's report, found plaintiff guilty of intimidation or threatening of an officer, but not the other two counts. Plaintiff's grade was reduced for two months, he was placed in segregation for a month, and he received commissary restrictions for three months. (R. 80-2, Ex. E, Adjustment Committee 6/29/05 Report.) On June 25, 2005, Correctional Officer Johnnie Franklin (Colleen's husband) visited plaintiff and discussed plaintiff's letter to Colleen Franklin. According to plaintiff, Johnnie Franklin said that he would wait until plaintiff was out of segregation and in general population before doing anything to him. Plaintiff stated in his deposition that Johnnie Franklin did not verbally threaten bodily harm, but his body language suggested that he might physically harm plaintiff. Plaintiff admitted, however, that Johnnie Franklin "never touched [plaintiff]" at any time. At most, Johnnie Franklin's comment "was only a threat." (R. 80-2, Ex. C, Pl.'s Dep. at 53.) Plaintiff has submitted several affidavits from other inmates stating that they heard Johnnie Franklin threaten plaintiff for disrespecting Johnnie's wife. (R. 85, Exs. C, D, and E.)

With respect to Sandra Hawkins, plaintiff contends that she did not respond to his grievances. However, plaintiff labeled several grievances as emergencies, which were given to the warden and not Hawkins. (R. 80-2, Ex. C, Pl.'s Dep. at 65-68.) Plaintiff acknowledged that Hawkins had nothing to do with the incidents involving Colleen and Johnnie Franklin or Paul Buchanan, and that plaintiff named Hawkins as a defendant based solely on her role as grievance officer and her handling of his grievances. (Id. at 70.)

Discussion

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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). In determining whether of a genuine issue exists, the Court views all of the facts, and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.

The movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that judgment based upon the uncontested facts is warranted. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the movant meets this burden, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires trial." Borello v. Allison, 446 F.3d 742, 748 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26. A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated 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 reasonable finder of fact could return a decision for the nonmoving party based upon the record. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; Insolia v. Phillip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599-98 (7th Cir. 2000).

When addressing summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 Statements, which assist the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004). The nonmoving party must admit or deny each factual statement proffered by the moving party and concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005). Each party's statement should contain short numbered paragraphs including references to the record, affidavits, and other supporting materials. Id.; see Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817.

Because plaintiff is a pro se litigant, defendants served him with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" as required by Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.2. The notice explains the consequences of failing to properly respond to a motion for summary judgment and to ...


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