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Smith v. Alvarez

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 15, 2012

Seneca SMITH (# K-76299), Plaintiff,
Lt. ALVAREZ, et al., Defendants.

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Roger Williams, Joliet, IL, pro se.

Colleen Bernadette Cavanaugh, Martin D. Syvertsen, Richard J. Daley Center, James Charles Pullos, Chicago, IL, for Defendants.


ELAINE E. BUCKLO, District Judge.

The plaintiff, currently an Illinois state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendants, correctional officials and health care providers at the Cook County Jail, violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical/mental health needs. More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that correctional officers refused him access to a psychiatric evaluation even though he was expressing suicidal thoughts, resulting in an overdose. This matter is before the court for ruling on the defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted.


" 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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (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, 106 S.Ct. 2548. " 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)).


The defendants' statement of facts is based almost entirely on the plaintiff's deposition testimony, which I have read. The court has disregarded any statements in the plaintiff's " Declaration" (Exhibit A to his summary judgment brief) that conflict with his sworn deposition testimony. " [L]itigants cannot create sham issues of fact with affidavits that contradict their prior depositions." Janky v. Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 576 F.3d 356, 362 (7th Cir.2009) (quoting Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. A & E Oil, Inc., 503 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir.2007)). The plaintiff may not backpedal from factual assertions he made under oath simply because they have

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become inconvenient at the summary judgment stage.

Given the considerations stated above, the court views the following facts as uncontested for purposes of the motion for summary judgment:

The plaintiff, Seneca Smith [also known as Roger Williams], was a pretrial detainee in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections at all times relevant to this action. (Defendants' Exhibit A, Plaintiff's Deposition, pp. 6, 13.) Defendants Nancy Alvarez, Belinda Blunt, Nakeea Buchanan-Smith, and William Lopez are all correctional officers of various ranks at the Cook County Jail. (Complaint, pp. 2-2(A).)

The plaintiff claims to suffer from psychotic disorder, acute depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. (Plaintiff's Exhibit A, Declaration of Seneca Smith, ¶ 2; Plaintiff's Dep., pp. 18-19.) At the time of the events giving rise to this action, the plaintiff was housed in the jail's Division Ten, a medical tier for detainees with acute psychological needs. (Plaintiff's ...

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