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Joseph v. Ortiz

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

August 16, 2016

TURI JOSEPH, Plaintiff,


          Young B. Kim, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Turi Joseph brings this action against Defendant Officer Ortiz pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Joseph alleges in his complaint that while he was a pretrial detainee in the Cook County Jail (“CCJ”), Ortiz was responsible for his placement in disciplinary segregation without adequate due process. Before this court is Ortiz’s motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Ortiz’s motion is granted, and Joseph is hereby notified of the court’s intention to enter summary judgment in favor of Ortiz to the extent Joseph may also be asserting a malicious prosecution claim:

         Procedural History

         Joseph, proceeding pro se, filed his complaint in January 2015 naming the Cook County Sheriff’s Office as a defendant in addition to Ortiz. (R. 1.) However, the court dismissed the Cook County Sheriff’s Office as a non-suable entity in June 2015, leaving Ortiz as the sole remaining defendant. (R. 19.) After the parties consented to this court’s jurisdiction, (R. 18); see 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties proceeded with discovery, (see R. 26; R. 30; R. 40-2). Ortiz filed the current motion for summary judgment on April 4, 2016. (R. 42.) Joseph filed what the court deemed to be his opposition to Ortiz’s motion on April 22, 2016, (R. 45), and Ortiz filed his reply thereto on June 3, 2016, (R. 52).

         Local Rule 56.1

         The court notes that in many instances, the parties’ Local Rule (“L.R.”) 56.1 statements and responses do not conform to L.R. 56.1’s requirements. Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires that the party moving for summary judgment provide “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law.” L.R. 56.1(a)(3). The statement should be comprised of short, numbered paragraphs that are supported by citations to admissible evidence. See Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 682 (7th Cir. 2003). However, Ortiz’s statement of facts contains several erroneous citations, including cites to incorrect page and line numbers in Joseph’s deposition transcript. (See, e.g., R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶¶ 3, 6, 11, 13, 19, 30.)

         Local Rule 56.1 “is designed, in part, to aid the district court, which does not have the advantage of the parties’ familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information, in determining whether a trial is necessary.” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations omitted). Ortiz should have ensured that his citations to the record were accurate, especially given the length at which his reply brief criticizes Joseph’s failure to comply with local rules. (See R. 52, Def.’s Reply at 1-4.) While the court is entitled to disregard any statements and responses that do not comply with L.R. 56.1, see Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008); Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005), it will accept most of Ortiz’s facts because they are ultimately supported by the record.

         As for Joseph’s L.R. 56.1 submissions, Ortiz provided a “Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment” to explain L.R. 56.1’s requirements to Joseph. (R. 41.) The notice informed Joseph that if he wanted to dispute any of Ortiz’s facts or submit a statement of his own, he should refer to documents and declarations that support his factual allegations. (Id.) It also cautioned Joseph that this court would deem Ortiz’s factual contentions admitted if he failed to follow the procedures delineated in L.R. 56.1. (Id.) Under L.R. 56.1(b), Joseph, as the non-moving party, was required to 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 any other supporting materials relied upon” and “a statement . . . of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavit, parts of the record, and any other supporting materials relied upon.” L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B), (C). Pro se plaintiffs are expected to comply with these procedural rules. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006); Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004).

         Despite these requirements, Joseph did not file a proper response to Ortiz’s statement of facts. For example, he erroneously included factual or legal arguments in several of his purported responses. (See, e.g., R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶¶ 6-13, 16, 20, 26-31); see Cady, 467 F.3d at 1060 (finding error in a pro se plaintiff’s L.R. 56.1 statement of facts because it “was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture”). Although Joseph did attempt to admit or dispute some of Ortiz’s facts, he also added information that should have been included in a separate statement of additional facts pursuant to L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(c). (See, e.g., R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶¶ 4-18, 20-32); see McGuire v. United Parcel Serv., 152 F.3d 673, 675 (7th Cir. 1998). In several instances it is unclear whether Joseph is admitting or disputing Ortiz’s asserted facts. (See, e.g., R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶¶ 12, 21-22, 28, 30-31); see McGuire, 152 F.3d at 675. Additionally, some of Joseph’s paragraphs contain incorrect citations or fail to cite to the record. (See, e.g., R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶¶ 14, 27, 29); see Cihon v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 401 F.3d 803, 808 (7th Cir. 2005) (plaintiff’s response included facts without citations and cited to portions of the record that failed to support his denials in violation of L.R. 56.1).

         However, this court treats and construes the submissions of pro se litigants generously and liberally. See Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 596 (1972) (stating that the allegations of a pro se complaint are held to less strict standards than pleadings drafted by lawyers). This liberal construction is designed to “give a pro se plaintiff a break when, although he stumbles on a technicality, his pleading is otherwise understandable.” Hudson v. McHugh, 148 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 1998). The majority of deficiencies in Joseph’s response to Ortiz’s statement of facts are technicalities and do not prevent this court from understanding and evaluating his response, so this court will consider those facts that are adequately supported by the record. Furthermore, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to Joseph. See Adams v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 324 F.3d 935, 937 (7th Cir. 2003).


         Joseph was a pre-trial detainee in the custody of the CCJ from April 2014 to March 2015. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 1; R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶ 1.) During that time, Ortiz worked as a correctional officer at the CCJ. (See R. 40-1, Compl. at 2.) On October 22, 2014, Ortiz instructed Joseph to remove a cloth from his head, which Joseph acknowledges was the property of the CCJ. (See R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶¶ 3-4; R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶ 4.) Both parties agree that Joseph initially removed the cloth after Ortiz directed him to do so. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 5; R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶ 5.) However, according to Ortiz, Joseph only briefly removed the cloth before putting it back on his head so he could work out. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 5.) Joseph contends that he never put the cloth back on his head and instead wrapped a shirt around his hair so he could exercise. (R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶ 5.) He testified at his deposition that the CCJ handbook only prohibits detainees from wearing head attire in the facility’s dayroom, and he asserts that he was never in the dayroom while wearing either the cloth or the shirt. (R. 40-2, Pl.’s Dep. at 13:5-24, 32:13-22.) While the tier’s layout is unclear, Joseph testified that he was in a bunk bed area that was separated from the dayroom by a low wall. (R. 40-2, Pl.’s Dep. at 11:13-15, 13:15-20, 14:6-14.) After Joseph covered his head, Ortiz ordered all detainees out of the dayroom. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 6.)

         Jywanza Thompkins, one of the detainees in the dayroom, approached Ortiz and asked why they were being directed to leave. (R. 40-2, Pl.’s Dep. at 12; R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 7.) Thompkins stated that detainees are allowed to wear head attire when they are not in the dayroom, and eventually slammed playing cards down on a table and accused Ortiz of unfairly closing the dayroom. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶¶ 7-8.) Ortiz and another officer then moved Thompkins to another part of the dayroom to handcuff him. (See Id. ¶¶ 9-10; R. 40-2, Pl.’s Dep. at 13:14-17.) According to Ortiz, Joseph approached the area where Thompkins was being handcuffed. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 10.) Joseph testified that although he stepped into view to speak to Ortiz, he never left the bunk area or entered the dayroom. (R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶ 10; R. 40-2, Pl.’s Dep. at 13:17-20.) Joseph then told Ortiz that Thompkins was right about the rules regarding head attire. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 10; R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶ 10.)

         Ortiz ordered Joseph to step back while Thompkins was being handcuffed. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 11.) According to Ortiz, Joseph continued to approach them and eventually placed himself in front of Thompkins. (Id. ¶ 12.) But Joseph asserts that although he did come closer to them, he still never entered the dayroom and never placed himself between Thompkins and the correctional officers. (R. 46, Pl.’s Resp. ¶ 12.) At this point a third officer directed Joseph “to back off” so that they could investigate the situation. (R. 40, Def.’s Facts ¶ 13.) This third officer ordered Joseph to sit down, but Joseph did not do so because he was instructed to sit on someone else’s bed and felt uncomfortable complying. (Id. ¶ 14.) Joseph remained in the area until Thompkins was taken off the tier. (Id. ΒΆ 15.) ...

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