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Watson v. Cullinan

September 10, 2010


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


Before the court are Defendants Catton, Godar, Spracklyn, Earl Helm, and Houston's summary judgment motion [39], Plaintiff's response [45] and Defendants' reply [49].


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). Further, "[t]he plaintiff cannot merely allege the existence of a factual dispute to defeat summary judgment .. Instead, he must supply evidence sufficient to allow a jury to render a verdict in his favor." Basith v. Cook County, 241 F.3d 919, 926 (7th Cir. 2001). Specifically, the non-moving party "must present sufficient evidence to show the existence of each element of its case on which it will bear the burden at trial." Filipovic v. K&R Express Systems, Inc., 176 F.3d 390, 390 (7th Cir. 1999). Failure by the non-movant to meet all of the above requirements subjects him to summary judgment on his claims.

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. It is also well settled that "conclusory allegations and self-serving affidavits, if not supported by the record, will not preclude summary judgment. Keri v. Barod of Trustees of Purdue University, 458 F.3d 620, 628 (7th Cir.2006)(citing Haywood v. N. Am. Van Lines, Inc., 121 F.3d 1066, 1071 (7th Cir.1997)).


On June 23, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this matter complaining of conditions and treatment at the Tazewell County Jail. On July 21, 2008, this court conducted a Merit Review of Plaintiff's complaint and allowed Plaintiff to proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim that defendants were deliberately indifferent to serious medical needs as well as claims made for due process violations under the Fourteenth Amendment, a First Amendment free speech claim and a policy and practice claim against the Sheriff. On October 22, 2008, this Honorable Court further recognized a claim made by Plaintiff alleging a violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Defendants are now moving for summary judgment on the basis that the Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a).

Undisputed Material Facts*fn1

1. The Illinois Department of Corrections is authorized by law at 730 ILCS 5/3- 15-2 to issue county jail and detention standards regarding conditions of confinement and treatment of inmates. (See Exhibit A)

2. Regulations promulgated by the Illinois Department of Corrections pursuant to authority of state statute at 730 ILCS 5/3-15-2 regarding standards for county jail conditions and treatment of inmates are codified in the Illinois Administrative Code at Title 20, Section 701.160. (See Exhibit B)

3. Title 20, Section 701.160(c) requires county jails to allow detainees to "make requests or complaints to the jail administration in written form, without censorship as to substance." (See Exhibit B)

4. In compliance with state law and regulations, the Tazewell County Jail maintains administrative procedures for inmates and detainees to make complaints regarding jail conditions and treatment by staff and officers. (See Affidavit of Earl Helm at #6-8)

5. The Tazewell County Jail provides Jail Detainee Handbooks to all detainees and inmates when classified for placement in the jail. The handbook contains instructions, direction and information regarding how to make a complaint or file a grievance regarding conditions or treatment at the jail. A ...

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