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Antoine Simmons (#2010-0729259 v. Officer Gregory Mcculloch

August 8, 2012

ANTOINE SIMMONS (#2010-0729259),
PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER GREGORY MCCULLOCH, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Antoine Simmons, an inmate in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendants, two correctional officers at the jail, violated his constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his safety. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants failed to prevent a sudden attack by a razor-wielding fellow inmate. The plaintiff additionally contends that the officers stood by and watched without intervening as he was chased around the tier while screaming for help. This matter is before the court for ruling on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted, and the plaintiff's motion is denied.

I. Standard on a Motion for Summary Judgment

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a 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. Village 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. Universities 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 Information 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 County Sheriff's Dept., 602 F.3d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 2010), quoting Faas v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 532 F.3d 633, 640-41 (7th Cir. 2008).

II. Background

A. Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.)

The defendants filed a statement of uncontested material facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.). Together with their motion for summary judgment, the defendants included a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" [document no. 81], as required by circuit precedent. That notice clearly explained the requirements of the Local Rules and warned the plaintiff 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. See, e.g., Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003).

Local Rule 56.1(b) requires a party opposing a motion for summary judgment to file:

(3) a concise response to the movant's statement that shall contain

(A) 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 materials relied upon, and

(B) a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.

L.R. 56.1(b).

The district court may rigorously enforce compliance with Local Rule 56.1. See, e.g., Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th Cir. 2011) ("Because of the high volume of summary judgment motions and the benefits of clear presentation of relevant evidence and law, we have repeatedly held that district judges are entitled to insist on strict compliance with local rules designed to promote the clarity of summary judgment filings") (citing Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Serv., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004). Although pro se plaintiffs are entitled to lenient standards, compliance with procedural rules is required. Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006); see also Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004). "We have ... repeatedly held that a district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1." Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005).

Despite the admonitions stated above, the plaintiff failed to file a proper response to the defendants' statement of uncontested facts. The defendants correctly point out in their motion to strike that the plaintiff, in his Local Rule 56.1(e) statement: (1) improperly includes additional information rather than admitting or denying the defendants' assertions; (2) makes legal arguments;

(3) makes conclusory assertions, unsupported by evidence; and (4) fails explicitly to admit or deny certain stated facts. The plaintiff is advised that statements in a brief are not evidence and are not entitled to any evidentiary weight. See, e.g., Topi v. Mukasey 264 Fed. Appx. 504, 506 (7th Cir. 2008); Wilson v. ...


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