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Dion Cantrell Thompson v. Sheriff Thomas Dart

May 24, 2011


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



The plaintiff, currently a state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendant, the Sheriff of the Cook County Jail, violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his safety. More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that after he witnessed an inmate attack on a staff nurse and spoke to investigators about the incident, the defendant failed to take appropriate steps to protect the plaintiff from reprisal by fellow detainees. This matter is before the court for ruling on the defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted.

Summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Vision Church v. Vill. of Long Grove, 468 F.3d 975, 988 (7th Cir. 2006). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Weber v. Univers. Research Assoc., Inc., 621 F.3d 589, 592 (7th Cir. 2010). The court does not "judge the credibility of the witnesses, evaluate the weight of the evidence, or determine the truth of the matter.

The only question is whether there is a genuine issue of fact." Gonzalez v. City of Elgin, 578 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)).

However, Rule 56 "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Sarver v. Experian Info. Solutions, 390 F.3d 969, 970 (7th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). "A genuine issue of material fact arises only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party." Egonmwan v. Cook Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 602 F.3d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Faas v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 532 F.3d 633, 640-41 (7th Cir. 2008)).


The defendant filed a statement of uncontested material facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(a). The defendant also served on the plaintiff the mandatory notice under Local Rule 56.2, explaining the requirements of the Local Rules and warning the plaintiff that his failure to respond with appropriate evidentiary support would result in the court accepting the defendant's statements of fact as true. (See Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Summary Judgment.) The notice specifically provides:

Your response must comply with Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 56.1 of this court. These rules are available at any law library. Your Rule 56.1 statement needs to have numbered paragraphs responding to each paragraph in the defendant's statement of facts. If you disagree with any fact offered by the defendant, you need to explain how and why you disagree with the defendant. You also need to explain how the documents or declarations that you are submitting support your version of the facts. If you think that some of the facts offered by the defendant are immaterial or irrelevant, you need to explain why you believe that those facts should not be considered.

In your response, you must also describe and include copies of documents which show why you disagree with the defendant about the facts of the case. . . . If you do not provide the Court with evidence that shows that there is a dispute about the facts, the judge will be required to assume that the defendant's factual contentions are true, and, if the defendant is also correct about the law, your case will be dismissed.

Id.; see Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (stating that a party's failure to controvert the facts as set forth in the moving party's statement results in those facts being deemed admitted); LR56.1(b)(3)(c) ("All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing.").

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); see Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005) ("We have . . . repeatedly held that a district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with [Local] Rule 56.1."); Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 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).

Although pro se plaintiffs are entitled to lenient standards, a plaintiff's pro se status does not absolve him from complying with these procedural rules. Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006); Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004); Greer v. Bd. of Ed. of City of Chi., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); see McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) ("[W]e have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.")

Notwithstanding the defendant's admonition, the plaintiff has not responded to the statement of uncontested facts; to the contrary, he largely concedes the factual propositions set forth by the defendant. The plaintiff's failure to controvert the facts provided by the defendant results in those facts being deemed admitted. Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006). The court therefore finds that the following undisputed facts:

The plaintiff, currently a state prisoner, was an inmate at the Cook County Jail at the time he initiated this lawsuit. (Am. Compl. at 2.) The defendant, Tom Dart, is the Sheriff of Cook County. (Id.)

On September 21, 2009, the plaintiff went to his division's dispensary to receive his seizure medication. (Def.'s Ex. A, Thompson Dep. at 13.) At least forty-five inmates were in the waiting room with the plaintiff. (Id. at 14.) While the plaintiff was there, another inmate (Terry Brown), stabbed a nurse with a sharp metal object. (Id. at 17-18.) The plaintiff ran into the hallway to report to the attack to an officer stationed there. (Id. at 17, 19-20.)

Brown did not attack the plaintiff. (Id. at 25.) The plaintiff was not injured in any way during the incident. (Id. at 56.)

Prior to the attack, Brown had never threatened or attacked the plaintiff. (Id. at 25.) The plaintiff knew Brown from "see[ing] him around" the jail throughout his ...

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