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Eduardo Navejar v. Lt. Akinola Iyiola

January 6, 2012

EDUARDO NAVEJAR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LT. AKINOLA IYIOLA, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Eduardo Navejar, brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Lieutenant Akinola Iyiola, Sargent Michael Grant, and Lieutenant Glen Elbertson (collectively "Defendants"), all of whom were correctional officers at the Stateville Correctional Center at the time of the events that give rise to this suit. Navejar claims that the Defendants violated his constitutional rights by issuing him a false disciplinary report, by subjecting him to the use of excessive force, by being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition, and by retaliating against him for hitting Lieutenant Iyiola. (Doc. 1). On May 26, 2010, this Court dismissed Navejar's due process claim. (Doc. 54). Thus, Navejar's claim that the Defendants violated his constitutional rights by issuing a false disciplinary report is no longer part of this case. Defendants now move for summary judgment against Navejar on his remaining claims. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted.

I. Material Undisputed Facts

As a threshold matter, Navejar has not complied with Local Rule 56.1(b), which governs the manner for responding to the moving party's statement of facts in support of summary judgment. Although the filings of pro se litigants are subject to more liberal review and interpretation, a pro se plaintiff must still comply with local rules. See Dale v. Poston 548 F.3d 563, 568 (7th Cir. 2008) ("Judges, of course, must construe pro se pleadings liberally. But procedural rules cannot be ignored.) (internal citations omitted); Greer v. Bd. of Educ., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). Indeed, the local rules make special provision for notice to pro se litigants opposing summary judgment by requiring the moving party to issue a letter with their motion describing the proper manner for responding in opposition to the motion. See L.R. 56.2. Defendants sent a Rule 56.2 letter to Navejar with their motion. When a pro se litigant is provided with a Rule 56.2 letter, then he is presumed to be on notice of his obligations under Rule 56.1, and failure to comply with that Rule results in the admission of the moving party's facts. See Gleash v. Yuswak, 308 F.3d 758, 761 (7th Cir. 2002).

In his Rule 56.1 response, Navejar does not explicitly admit or deny the Defendant's facts, nor does he make "a concise response to the movant's statement that...contain[s] numbered paragraphs, each corresponding to and stating a concise summary of the paragraph to which it is directed." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A). This failure might not be fatal to him, because he does enumerate and list each of the Defendants' paragraphs and provides some response to each, but other failures of Navejar to comply with 56.1 are more problematic. First is that he fails to support his responses with adequate evidence in the record. He runs afoul of the Rule because he does not offer "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 material relied upon." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). In his responses, Navejar supports his statements only with his own Complaint, to which his grievance letters are attached, and his own affidavit. Such self-serving evidence is insufficient to constitute the requisite supporting materials needed to create a factual dispute. See Chichon v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 401 F.3d 803, 808 (7th Cir. 2005)(district court properly struck party's 56.1 response and additional facts because the facts were not supported by record evidence); Rogers v. City of Chicago, 320 F.3d 748, 751 (7th Cir. 2003) (district court properly struck party's 56.1 submission because it was largely based on the party's self-serving affidavit); Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 246 F.3d 927, 933 (7th Cir. 2001) ("We repeatedly have held that self-serving affidavits without factual support in the record will not defeat a motion for summary judgment."). Thus, Navejar's response is insufficient because it lacks the necessary evidentiary support.

As a second problem, Navejar adds his own factual assertions in addressing each of the Defendants' facts. This is improper, as Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) mandates that "any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment" must be included in a separate "statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs..." When the non-moving party fails to include his additional facts in a separate statement it is proper for the Court to strike them. See Chichon, LLC, 401 F.3d at 808 (additional facts properly struck for failing to comply with 56.1's requirement that they be filed separately); Ammons v. Aramark Unif. Servs., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004) ("Rule 56.1 envisions a separate statement of additional facts. In this case, several responses...admit to the allegation but then add other additional facts. These facts should have been included in a separate statement."). The Court therefore deems the Defendants' facts admitted and strikes all of the Plaintiff's facts and responses. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) (district court has discretion to treat one party's proposed facts as undisputed when the other party fails to comply with Rule 56.1).

Navejar is a State prisoner, incarcerated by the Illinois Department of Corrections at Menard Correctional Center. (Def. 56.1 Facts ¶ 1). At the time of the incidents alleged, he was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center and the Defendants were officers at Stateville. (Id. ¶¶ 2-4). On December 17, 2008, Navejar, along with other prisoners from his tier of cells, was being transported to an evening meal. (Id. ¶ 7). While he was going down the stairs, an inmate from a different gallery called out to Navejar that he would meet Navejar in the law library. (Id. ¶ 8). Upon descending to another gallery, Navejar again stopped to speak with another prisoner. (Id. ¶ 9). This activity was in violation of Illinois Department of Corrections rules, which prohibit inmates from stopping to speak with one another while being transported. (Id. ¶ 10). Navejar knew this was a violation of the rules, and at the time he was in possession of a copy of the Illinois Department of Corrections handbook. (Id. ¶ 24).

Once the group reached the floor of the cell house, Lt. Iyiola ordered Navejar to get out of line for violating the rule. (Id. ¶ 11). Lt. Iyiola then instructed Navejar to step into the unit bullpen until he could be escorted back to his cell and informed him that he would not be having an evening meal. (Id. ¶ 12). Navejar began to argue with Lt. Iyiola, and told him that he was going to get "a tray." (Id. ¶ 13). Navejar then hit Lt. Iyiola in the face with a closed fist. (Id. ¶ 14). This caused a struggle to ensue between Navejar and Lt. Iyiola. (Id. ¶ 16). Sgt. Grant arrived on the scene and ordered Navejar to stop fighting with Lt. Iyiola. (Id. ¶ 17). Navejar filed to comply with Sgt. Grant's order. (Id.). In an effort to stop the assault that was happening to Lt. Iyiola, Sgt. Grant sprayed Navejar with pepper spray. (Id. ¶ 18). The altercation had escalated to a dangerous disturbance, so a correctional officer on the catwalk above fired a warning shot from his shotgun. (Id. ¶ 19).

After the incident, correctional officers transported Navejar to segregation where he was examined by a medical technician. (Id. ¶ 21). During the fight with Lt. Iyiola, Navejar sustained a scratch to his face and a bruise on his forehead and eyebrow. (Id. ¶ 22). Lt. Iyiola sustained several injuries to his face. (Id. ¶ 23). The next morning Navejar was taken to the health care unit where he was examine by nurses. (Id. ¶ 30). After his medical evaluation, Lt. Elberson told Navejar that he was being transported to Pontiac Correctional Facility and escorted him back to his cell. (Id. ¶ 31).

Under the Illinois Administrative Code it is permissible to use force to compel compliance with a lawful order given by an employee to ensure the safety of the facility. (Id. ¶ 25). Furthermore, chemical agents may be justified if the use of force is otherwise justified. (Id. ¶ 26). Eva Aguero, an investigator at Stateville, conducted an investigation of the incident. (Id. ¶ 27). Seventy inmates who witnessed the investigation were interviewed, as were a number of correctional officers. (Id. ¶ 27). The conclusion of the investigator was that there had been no wrongdoing on the part of the Defendants. (Id. ¶ 29). The investigation further revealed that appropriate force had been exercised under the circumstances. (Id.).

A disciplinary hearing was held for Navejar, and he was found guilty of assaulting Lt. Iyiola, of causing a dangerous disturbance, of insolence, and of disobeying a direct order. (Id. ¶ 32). As a result, Navejar received one year in segregation, a nine-month reduction of good-time credit and a reduction in grade and a restriction on visits. (Id. ¶ 33). Navejar's disciplinary ruling stands, and it has not been overturned or expunged. (Id. ¶ 34).

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper when "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(a). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. See Bennington v. Caterpillar Inc., 275 F.3d 654, 658 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). However, on summary judgment the Court will limits its analysis of the facts to that ...


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