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Payton v. Grote

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

September 15, 2014

Tobias G. Payton (R-10454), Plaintiff,
Nurse Kenlyn Grote, Johnnie Franklin, Billy Johnson, Frank Shaw, Shawn Bass, C. Markee, Dr. Liping Zhang, Defendants.


ROBERT M. DOW, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Tobias Payton, an Illinois prisoner confined at Stateville Correctional Center, brought this 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 action against Stateville Nurse Kenlyn Grote, Grievance Officer Shawn Bass, former Warden Frank Shaw, Officer C. Markee, Adjustment Committee Hearing Officers Johnnie Franklin and Billy Johnson, and Dr. Liping Zhang. Plaintiff alleges the following: Nurse Grote refused to deliver Plaintiff's prescribed antidepressant medication to him for several months in 2009; when Plaintiff complained, Grote retaliated by charging him with falsely accusing her of refusing to deliver medication; Officers Markee and Sortino (not a Defendant)[1] falsely testified during disciplinary proceedings that, from a tower, they witnessed Grote delivering medications to Plaintiff; Disciplinary Hearing Officers Franklin and Johnson found Plaintiff guilty of the charge, allegedly knowing it was false; and Grievance Officer Bass, Dr. Zhang, and Warden Shaw refused to investigate Plaintiff's grievances about not receiving his medication and being retaliated against.

Currently before the Court are two motions for summary judgment: one from Dr. Zhang and the other from Grote, Shaw, Markee, Franklin, and Johnson. Plaintiff has responded to both motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Dr. Zhang's motion and she is dismissed. The other motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff may proceed against Nurse Grote and Officer Markee. Defendants Franklin, Johnson, Bass, and Shaw are dismissed.

I. Legal Standard on Summary Judgment

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, courts construe the facts and make 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).

Pursuant to Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1, "a district court is entitled to decide [a summary judgment] motion based on the factual record outlined 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) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted); see also Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th Cir. 2011). 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); Coleman v. Goodwill Indus. of Se. Wis., Inc., 423 F.Appx. 642, 643 (7th Cir. 2011) ("Though courts are solicitous of pro se litigants, they may nonetheless require strict compliance with local rules").

Consistent with the local rules, Defendants filed Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statements of Material Facts with their summary judgment motions. See Doc. 135 (Dr. Zhang's Rule 56.1 Statement) and Doc. 147 (Grote, Shaw, Bass, Markee, Franklin, and Johnson's Rule 56.1 Statement). Each substantive factual assertion in the Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statements cites evidentiary material in the record and is supported by the cited material. See N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(a). Also consistent with the local rules, Defendants served Plaintiff with Local Rule 56.2 Notices explaining the requirements of Local Rule 56.1 and his need to respond to both the summary judgment motions and Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statements. See Docs. 137 and 148.

Plaintiff responded to both summary judgment motions, and his responses consist of short, numbered paragraphs of facts with citations to affidavits and supporting materials in the record. See Docs. 141, 152; see also Local Rule 56.1(b)(1)(C). His responses, however, do not respond "to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). The Court directed Plaintiff to follow the instructions in the Rule 56.2 Statements to Pro Se Litigants: that is, to respond to each numbered paragraph in Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statement and, if disagreeing with the factual assertion, state how and why he was disagreeing with reference to the record. See Doc. 169 (Order of June 24, 2014). Plaintiff submitted a pleading stating what he believes are undisputed facts; however, the pleading, like his others, does not address each paragraph in Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statements and does not comply with this Court's local rule. See Doc. 171.[2]

Although none of Plaintiff's pleadings respond to Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statements in accordance with Rule 56.1(b), Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff's statements of material facts, which he presented in accordance with Rule 56.1(a). See Docs. 141, 152. At most, Defendants challenge whether an affidavit submitted by Plaintiff is in the proper form, but they do not address each numbered paragraph in Plaintiff's submissions. See Doc. 163; see also N.D.Ill. Local Rule 56.1(a) ("All material facts set forth in the [opposing party's] statement filed pursuant to section (b)(3)(C) will be deemed admitted unless controverted by the statement of the moving party.")

The Court thus is presented with two sets of factual assertions to which the other party did not respond in accordance with local rules. Accordingly, the Court has considered the factual assertions submitted by both Plaintiff and Defendants, and the facts stated below are taken from the Rule 56.1 statements from all of the parties. Where there are gaps, and there are many, the Court refers directly to the materials submitted by the parties, such as Plaintiff's deposition, medical records, affidavits, grievances, responses to grievances. See Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 887 (7th Cir. 2011) (a district court has discretion "whether to apply [local rules] strictly or to overlook any transgression") (citing Little v. Cox's Supermarkets, 71 F.3d 637, 641 (7th Cir. 1995)). With the above standards in mind, the Court turns to the facts of this case, noting both where facts are disputed and undeveloped.

II. Facts

Plaintiff was an inmate at Stateville Correction Center in 2009. During that time, Kenlyn Grote was a nurse at Stateville; Frank Shaw was the prison's warden; Shawn Bass was a grievance officer; Billy Johnson and Johnnie Franklin were members of the Adjustment Committee; and Dr. Liping Zhang was one of Stateville's physicians. Although the motions for summary judgment do not address Officer Markee's role in this case, as he was not served until after the summary judgment motions were filed, it is clear that he was an officer at Stateville during the period of time relevant to this case.

Plaintiff took Celexa for depression and Trazadone to help him sleep, and, according to Plaintiff, Nurse Grote refused to deliver these medications to Plaintiff as ordered. Medications were delivered to inmates by a nurse, who would walk down a row of cells, stop before each one, and hand the medication to the inmate. Plaintiff states that inmates sometimes stayed in their bunks and put out their hands through the bars to retrieve their medications; other times, the nurse would require the inmate to get out of his bunk. According to Plaintiff, sometime in February or March 2009, Nurse Grote came by his cell; he held out his hand from his bunk for his medications; Grote told him to get down; Plaintiff (who was sometimes unable to get out of his bunk because of lingering effects of the Trazadone he took for sleep) told Grote to just give him his medications. She instead walked away without delivering his medications. Following that occurrence, Grote allegedly refused to give Plaintiff his medications through June 2009, and Plaintiff contends that, from March through June 2009, he did not receive medications for four to five days in a row. According to Defendants, Plaintiff's medical records show that Plaintiff received his medications on a daily basis in 2009. Plaintiff agrees that it was written down that he was receiving his medications but insists that he was not getting them.

On June 23, 2009, Nurse Grote handed out medications to Stateville inmates. According to Grote, she went to Plaintiff's cell door to deliver his medications, but he refused to come to the door. Plaintiff told Officer Kirk that Grote again refused to deliver Plaintiff's medications. In accordance with Kirk's instruction, Plaintiff informed a lieutenant nurse, who sent him to the health care unit. On June 23, 2009, Nurse Grote wrote a disciplinary ticket charging Plaintiff with giving false information about her not delivering his medications.

An Adjustment Committee hearing was held to determine the merits of the disciplinary charge. Officers Markee and Sortino, who were in F-House's tower on June 23, 2009, testified that they saw Grote stop by Plaintiff's cell on June 23, 2009. Plaintiff was given an opportunity to testify at the hearing. Plaintiff also was allowed to, but did not, call any witnesses to testify. Based upon the charge and testimony from Markee and Sortino, the Adjustment Committee (Johnnie Franklin and Billy Johnson) found Plaintiff guilty. He was sentenced to 30 days of commissary restriction.

Plaintiff contends that Franklin and Johnson knew that the disciplinary charge against Plaintiff was false but still found him guilty. In support of his position, Plaintiff presents an affidavit from fellow inmate Max McCoy, who states that B-House (where Plaintiff was housed) cannot be seen from the F-House tower (where Markee and Sortino were). Plaintiff also contends that he has spoken to Officer Markee, who indicated that he never spoke to the Adjustment Committee and that B-House cannot be seen from F-House. According to Plaintiff, ...

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