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Robinson v. Sweeny

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 4, 2013

RONALD ROBINSON (K-88722), Plaintiff,
ED SWEENY, et al., Defendants.


JOAN H. LEFKOW, District Judge.

Ronald Robinson ("Plaintiff"), an Illinois inmate currently confined at Pontiac Correctional Center, brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Cook County Jail Deputy Sheriffs Ed Sweeny and Juanita Essex, Jail Superintendent Victor Thomas, and First Assistant Executive Director Daniel Moreci ("Defendants"). Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his safety. More specifically, he states that he was housed in protective custody during his jail confinement in 2011, yet was transported to and from court with general population inmates. On August 25, 2011, after riding an elevator at the Markham courthouse with general population inmates, an inmate named Barnes (Plaintiff's co-defendant in his criminal case) struck Plaintiff on his face. During another trip to the Markham courthouse on September 29, 2011, general population inmates allegedly spat on, verbally harassed, and kicked Plaintiff during the bus ride to court. Currently pending before this court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 35], to which Plaintiff has responded. For the reasons stated herein, the court grants the motion.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56

Summary judgment is appropriate "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); Jajeh v. County of Cook, 678 F.3d 560, 566 (7th Cir. 2012). When addressing a motion for summary judgment, this court construes the facts and makes all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Jajeh, 678 F.3d at 566. Once the party moving for summary judgment demonstrates the absence of a disputed issue of material fact, "the burden shifts to the non-moving party to provide evidence of specific facts creating a genuine dispute." Carroll v. Lynch, 698 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2012). The non-movant must go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Hannemann v. Southern Door County School Dist., 673 F.3d 746, 751 (7th Cir. 2012). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if there is evidence "to permit a jury to return a verdict for" the nonmoving party. Egonmwan v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 602 F.3d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 2010).

Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.)

The facts of this case are taken from Defendants' N.D.Ill. Local Rule 56.1 Statement. A district court is entitled to decide a summary judgment motion based on the factual record presented in the parties' Local Rule 56.1 Statements. Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1109 (7th Cir. 2004); see also 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"). Plaintiff's status as a pro se litigant does not excuse him from complying with Local Rule 56.1. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) ("even pro se litigants must follow rules of civil procedure"); see also Coleman v. Goodwill Indus. of Se. Wis., Inc., 423 F.App'x 642, 643 (7th Cir. 2011).

Consistent with the local rules, Defendants filed a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Material Facts along with their summary judgment motion. Doc. 37. Each substantive factual assertion in their Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement cites evidentiary material in the record and is supported by the cited material in accordance with N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(a). Also consistent with the local rules, Defendants filed and served on Plaintiff a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, which explains in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1 and how to respond to a Rule 56.1 Statement. Doc. 38.

Plaintiff responded to Defendants' summary judgment materials by challenging a few of Defendants' contentions; however, Plaintiff filed neither responses to Defendants' Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement in accordance with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) (B) nor a statement of additional facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C). See Doc. 43. After Plaintiff responded to the summary judgment motion, the court informed him that, due to his purported limited use of his prison's library, he could supplement his response. Doc. 46. Plaintiff has not done so. Plaintiff not having responded to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement, the factual assertions therein are deemed admitted and constitute the factual record on which the summary judgment motion will be resolved. See N.D.Ill. L.R. 56. 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 party."); Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880, 884 (7th Cir. 2012); Parra v. Neal, 614 F.3d 635, 636 (7th Cir. 2010); Rao v. BP Prods. N. Am., Inc., 589 F.3d 389, 393 (7th Cir. 2009); Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006); Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 682-83 (7th Cir. 2003). With the above standards in mind, the facts of this case are as follows.


At all times pertinent to this case, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Jail. Doc. 37 ¶ 1. Defendants Essex and Sweeny were and are deputy sheriffs at the jail. Id. at ¶¶ 2-3. Defendants Moreci was the superintendent of Division 9, which houses protective custody inmates. Defendant Thomas is or was the superintendent of Division 9 at the time Plaintiff filed this action. Id. at ¶¶ 4-5. Defendant Tom Dart was and is the Cook County Sheriff. Id. at ¶ 6.

Plaintiff entered the jail in April of 2011. Id. at ¶ 8. On June 22, 2011, he requested to be placed in protective custody and was transferred to Division 9. Id. at ¶ 11. He signed a protective custody request form and stated as his reason for his request: "in fear of my life." Id. at ¶ 12; see also Doc. 43, Exh. B. Plaintiff did not list the names of individuals he feared. Doc. 37, ¶ 16.

On August 25, 2011, Plaintiff had a court appearance at the Markham Courthouse for his criminal case. Doc. 37, ¶ 17. Defendant Essex was assigned to the courtroom for Plaintiff's and co-defendant Barnes' court hearing. She remained in the courtroom when Plaintiff and Barnes were being escorted to a holding cell and was not present when the inmates were being moved. Id. at ¶¶ 20, 25; see also Doc. 37, Exh. D, ¶¶ 3-6. After the court hearing, Defendant Sweeny escorted Plaintiff down an elevator with three general population inmates. Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiff was handcuffed with his hands in front of him. Id. at ¶ 21. The three general population inmates, Barnes being one, were cuffed with their right hands cuffed together. Id. at ¶¶ 22, 23. Sweeny stood between Plaintiff and the three general population inmates. Id. at ¶ 24. Plaintiff never told the Defendants or any officers at the Cook County Jail that he feared Barnes. Id. at ¶¶ 26. Even on August 25, 2013, when Plaintiff was attacked, he never expressed to Officers Essex or Sweeny that he feared an attack by Barnes. Id. at ¶¶ 28, 30. At most, Plaintiff told the officers that he did not want to be near general population inmates. Doc. 37-4, Exh. B, Pl's Depo. at 46-47.

When exiting the elevator, Sweeny instructed Plaintiff to exit first. Doc. 37, ¶ 31. The parties' accounts differ slightly as to what happened when everyone exited the elevator. According to Sweeny, Plaintiff stopped walking and turned to face Barnes after the two inmates had exchanged words. Sweeny allegedly told Plaintiff to stop talking and keep walking. Id. at ¶¶ 32, 34. Plaintiff states in his deposition that he does not recall turning to face Barnes. Id. at ¶ 33. Just after exiting the elevator, Barnes threw two or three punches at Plaintiff, one striking Plaintiff on the right side of his face. Id. at ¶ 35. Plaintiff also states that he was hit on the left side of his face, but he does not recall where. Id. at ¶ 41. Sweeny reached through the inmates to separate them. ...

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