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Santiago v. Rabideau

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

August 23, 2014

FABIAN SANTIAGO, Plaintiff,
v.
KAREN RABIDEAU, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Ruben Castillo Chief Judge.

         Fabian Santiago ("Plaintiff), a prisoner incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), brings his second amended complaint against Karen Rabideau, Leslie Turner, Mindi Pierce, Clarence D. Wright, Colleen M. Franklin, Daniel Reed, Christopher Williams, Tarry Williams, and John Does 1 through 10 (collectively, "Defendants"), employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") at Stateville. (R. 28, Second Am. Compl.) Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging deprivations of his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (Id.) Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment on his First Amendment claim. (R. 60, Mot.) For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         RELEVANT FACTS

         The following facts are undisputed. For the past ten years, Plaintiff has been incarcerated at Stateville. (R. 67, Defs.' Resp. to PL's Facts ¶ 2.) In July 2014, an inmate who was classified as an "escape risk" was transferred to Plaintiffs cell. (Id. ¶ 8.) Because Plaintiffs cellmate was deemed an escape risk, their cell was subject to more frequent searches. (Id.) In August 2014, Plaintiff wrote a letter to then Illinois Governor Patrick J. Quinn regarding his cellmate, the frequent searches that he was being subjected to, and his perceived lack of response by IDOC employees. (Id. ¶ 15; R. 61-3, Ex. C, 2014 Letter.) The letter reads, in its entirety, as follows:

8/20/2014
To: Mr. Patrick J. Quinn:
Listen to me you faggot motherfucker! I wrote your punk ass almost a month ago notifying your office of these piece of shit, corrupt prison officials deliberately having me placed into a celling [sic] location with an [inmate] categorized as an extremely high escape risk in order to justify having my cell searched every several days, completely destroying my cell, stealing my property & provoking physical confrontations between myself, my cellmate & prison guards. These are criminal acts of misconduct & your fuckin racist & corrupt office is refusing to do anything about these abuses.
I have already filed an emergency grievance dated: 8/3/14, concerning these abuses & this punk ass warden has refused to take correct action. I have every intention on filing suit in federal court and your offices [sic] roll [sic] in disregarding & concealing these abuses will be stipulated. You have allowed a cess pool [sic] of corruption & abuse against [inmates] to plague the IDOC & haven't done shit to address these matters-I can only hope you lose the election you fuckin asshole.

(R. 61-3, Ex. C, 2014 Letter.)

         A copy of Plaintiff s letter to Governor Quinn was forwarded to the Stateville Investigation Unit. (R. 61-1, Ex. A, Offender Disciplinary Report.) The Offender Disciplinary Report documenting the letter listed Defendant Pierce as the reporting employee and Defendant Turner as a witness. (R. 67, Defs.' Resp. to PL's Facts ¶ 16.) The Offender Disciplinary Report noted that the letter "was very disrespectful, " constituted "insolence, " and was a "major infraction." (R. 61-1, Ex. A, Offender Disciplinary Report.) Insolence is defined in the prison regulations as "[f]alking, touching, gesturing, or other behavior that harasses, annoys or shows disrespect." II. Admin. Code 20, § 504, Table A (2001). On September 8, 2014, Plaintiff was brought before IDOC's Adjustment Committee, composed of Defendants Wright and Franklin, on the insolence charge. (R. 67, Defs.' Resp. to PL's Facts ¶¶ 18-19.) Wright and Franklin found Plaintiff guilty of insolence and recommended that he be transferred to F-House, Stateville's disciplinary segregation unit, for one month. (Id. ¶ 26.) As a result, Plaintiff was subsequently incarcerated in F-House for one month. (Id.)

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On February 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed apro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging numerous violations of his constitutional rights by Stateville officials. (R. 1, Compl.) After Plaintiffs initial complaint was dismissed without prejudice, (R. 9, Order), the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend his subsequent complaint and also appointed counsel for him, (R. 23, Order). Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint, through counsel, on August 17, 2015. (R. 28, Second Am. Compl.)

         In Count I, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the First Amendment by charging him with insolence and punishing him with disciplinary segregation in connection with his letter to Governor Quinn. (Id. ¶¶ 36-47.) In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to provide him with procedural due process during the IDOC hearing on the insolence charge. (Id. ¶¶ 48-50.) In Count III, Plaintiff alleges that the conditions he was incarcerated under during his time in disciplinary segregation constitute a violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Id. ¶¶ 52-56.) Defendants Rabideau, Turner, Pierce, Franklin, Reed, Tarry Williams, and Christopher Williams answered the amended complaint on December 18, 2015. (R. 47, Answer.) Defendant Wright filed a separate answer on March 10, 2016. (R. 57, Wright's Answer.)

         Plaintiff now moves for summary judgment as to all Defendants on his First Amendment claim. (R. 60, Mot. at 1.) On May 31, 2016, Defendants filed their response, (R. 66, Resp.), and Plaintiff filed his reply on June 13, 2016, (R. 70, Reply).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that "[t]he court shall grant 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). "A dispute over a material fact is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party on the evidence presented." Life Plan, Inc. v. Sec. Life of Denver Ins. Co., 800 F.3d 343, 349 (7th Cir. 2015). In deciding whether a dispute exists, the Court must "construe all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to ...


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