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Winston v. Walls

September 30, 2010

ANDRE WINSTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J.R. WALLS, ACTING WARDEN AT MT. STERLING CORRECTIONAL CENTER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCuskey Chief United States District Judge

Memorandum Opinion and Order

Before the court are Defendant J. R. Walls' summary judgment motion [27], Plaintiff Andre Winston's response [36], Defendant's reply [37] and Defendant's supplement [48]. Defendant moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 and United States District Court Local Rule 7.1(D).

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). 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)).

Background

Plaintiff Andre Winston is an inmate currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center. On February 9, 2009 he brought this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violations of his civil rights. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Walls, the former Acting Warden of Western Illinois Correctional Center, violated his First Amendment rights by revoking Plaintiff's privilege to write his brother, Ray Winston, another Illinois Department of Corrections inmate. Defendant contends that he is entitled to qualified immunity because the revoking of correspondence privileges between Plaintiff and his brother by the Defendant did not violate any clearly-established constitutional rights.

Defendant's Undisputed Material Facts*fn1

1. Plaintiff is an inmate currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center. (Complaint ¶2).

2. Plaintiff's biological brother, Ray Winston, is an inmate currently incarcerated at Pnckneyville Correctional Center. (Complaint ¶1).

3. On July 23, 2008, Defendant revoked correspondence privileges between Plaintiff and his brother, Ray Winston. (Complaint Exhibit A).

4. The revocation of correspondence privileges was due to inappropriate correspondence between Plaintiff and Ray Winston, resulting in the abuse of the privilege. (Exhibit A).

5. The letter in question, sent from Mr. Winston to Plaintiff, contained, among other things, two references to the administration at Western Illinois Correctional Center as "devils" and refers to ...


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