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Allen v. Engelson

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

August 11, 2016

Charles Allen #R-55857, Plaintiff,
v.
Tracey Engelson, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Manish S. Shah United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Charles Allen, a former state prisoner, brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action claiming unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Stateville’s Northern Reception Center. Defendants, Superintendent Tracey Engelson and Correctional Sergeant Dennis Phillips, move for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, defendants’ motion is granted.

         I. Background

         A. Local Rule 56.1

         Under Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), the moving party must provide “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue.” Ammons v. Aramark Unif. Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(a)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The opposing party must then “file ‘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.’” Cracco v. Vitran, Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). The opposing party may also present a separate statement of additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C)).

         Defendants move to strike Plaintiff’s entire response to their 56.1 Statement on the grounds that plaintiff’s response is improper because (in some places) it: (1) consists of legal arguments and conclusions; (2) improperly adds new facts that are unrelated to refuting defendants’ statement of facts; and (3) lacks citations to the record. The motion to strike is denied because striking the response in its entirety is unnecessary and would be an overly broad sanction in light of plaintiff’s partial compliance with the local rule. Defendants’ arguments as to specific responses, and for which they include an explanation and supporting argument, have been considered. See also Bentz v. Hardy, 638 Fed.Appx. 535, 536 (7th Cir. 2016) (finding that, even where plaintiff failed to respond properly to statement of uncontested facts, “[t]hat misstep was not fatal” because defendants chiefly relied upon plaintiff’s discovery deposition as their evidentiary source, rendering his account of prison conditions undisputed).

         The facts, therefore, are taken from Defendants’ N.D.Ill. Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Material Facts (“SOF”) and facts included in Plaintiff’s response and supporting affidavits, where he and/or the affiants are competent to testify as to those facts or they are supported by record evidence. See Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1109 (7th Cir. 2004). The court gives deference to plaintiff’s version of the facts where they are properly presented and supported by admissible evidence. Where defendants’ statements are properly supported and are not disputed by admissible evidence or through a proper Local Rule 56.1 response, the statements are deemed undisputed. See Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C).

         B. Facts

         Plaintiff arrived at NRC from Cook County Jail on July 29, 2014, and for the next six days, until August 4, 2014, was incarcerated in a bullpen. Dkt. 51, Defs’ SOF and Dkt. 68, P’s Resp. at ¶¶ 6, 8. Plaintiff was then transferred to a cell. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff’s claims in this lawsuit are limited to the six-day period of his incarceration in the NRC bullpen. Id. During that time period, defendant Engelson was Superintendent of NRC and defendant Phillips was a Correctional Sergeant. Id. ¶ 3.

         Plaintiff identified three adverse living conditions in the NRC bullpen: (1) being forced to sleep on the floor; (2) being exposed to mice that climbed across him; and (3) being exposed to birds that defecated on his sheet. Dkt. 68, P’s Resp. at ¶ 9.[1]

         1. Sleeping arrangements

         Although plaintiff alleged in his complaint that he “slept on the floor, ” he testified at his deposition, and does not dispute, that he slept on a mattress during each night of his incarceration in the NRC bullpen. Dkt. 51, Defs’ SOF and Dkt. 68, P’s Resp. at ¶ 11. On some of those nights the mattress was in a plastic structure, which plaintiff referred to as a “little boat thing, ” and on some nights the mattress did not fit in the structure, so was placed directly on the floor. Id. Plaintiff was also issued two sheets and a blanket. Id. ¶ 19.

         2. Mice and birds

         Plaintiff testified and does not dispute that he saw a mouse “four or five times” during his bullpen incarceration. Id. ¶ 13. On one occasion, a mouse ran across plaintiff’s sheet. Id. ΒΆ 14. Plaintiff lost sleep, and stayed awake, because he feared mice crawling on him. Dkt. 51, ...


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