United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Zagel Judge
Cortez Lyons, an Illinois state prisoner, has brought this
pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, officials at
the Stateville Correctional Center, violated Plaintiff's
constitutional rights by denying him due process, by denying
him equal protection, and by subjecting him to cruel and
unusual conditions of confinement. More specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that he received a harsher punishment for
fighting than the cellmate who had allegedly attacked him; he
additionally maintains that he endured inhumane living
conditions in the segregation unit. This matter is before the
Court for ruling on the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's
motion for summary judgment is denied altogether, and
Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted only
Summary Judgment Standard
Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Hanover Ins. Co. v. Northern Bldg.
Co., 751 F.3d 788, 791 (7th Cir. 2014). In determining
whether there are factual questions, the Court must view all
the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Weber v. Univ.
Research Assoc., Inc., 621 F.3d 589, 592 (7th Cir.
2010). The Court does not “judge the credibility of the
witnesses, evaluate the weight of the evidence, or determine
the truth of the matter. The only question is whether there
is a genuine issue of fact.” Gonzalez v. City of
Elgin, 578 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249-50
survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must make a
sufficient showing of evidence for each essential element of
his case on which he bears the burden at trial. Kampmier
v. Emeritus Corp., 472 F.3d 930, 936-937 (7th Cir. 2007)
(citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23). “Where
the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier
of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine
issue for trial.” Blythe Holdings, Inc. v.
DeAngelis, 750 F.3d 653, 656 (7th Cir. 2014) (citations
omitted). “A genuine issue of material fact arises only
if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to
permit a jury to return a verdict for that party.”
Egonmwan v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 602
F.3d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Faas v. Sears,
Roebuck & Co., 532 F.3d 633, 640-41 (7th Cir.
Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1
Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment nor his response
to Defendants' motion for summary judgment comports with
Local Rules. “Under the Local Rules of the Northern
District of Illinois, a party filing a motion for summary
judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 must serve and file ‘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.'”
Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger
Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371, 382 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 385 F.3d
1104, 1107-08 (7th Cir. 2004)). 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) (citing N.D.Ill. R.
56.1(b)(3)(B)); Fabiyi v. McDonald's Corp., No.
11 CV 8085, 2014 WL 985415, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 13, 2014)
(Kim, Mag. J.) (aff'd 595 F.App'x 621 (7th
Cir. 2014)). 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, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). A plaintiff's
pro se status does not excuse him from complying
with these rules. Morrow v. Donahoe, 564 F.App'x
859, 860 (7th Cir. 2014) (unpublished opinion) (citing
Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th
Cir. 2008) (inter alia)).
motion for summary judgment does not include a statement of
undisputed material facts. And even if Plaintiff was
unfamiliar with Local Rules governing summary judgment
despite having brought two prior civil rights actions in this
district, Defendants made him aware of summary judgment
requirements when they filed their cross-motion. Defendants
filed and served on Plaintiff a Local Rule 56.2 Notice in
conjunction with their own motion for summary judgment.
See Dkt. No. 54, “Notice Pursuant to Local
Rule 56.2.” That notice explained in detail the
obligations of a party opposing summary judgment, as well as
the consequences of failing to comply with the rules.
Defendants' admonition, Plaintiff's statements of
facts suffer from multiple deficiencies. First, many of
Plaintiff's factual assertions are unsupported by
citations to the record. The Local Rules require the parties,
in pertinent part, to make “specific references to the
affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting
materials relied upon.” L.R. 56.1(a)(3) (N.D. Ill.) The
Court is not required to comb the record to locate relevant
information. Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895,
899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted); see also
Hemsworth v. Quoteswmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490
(7th Cir. 2007) (“In considering a motion for summary
judgment, the district court is not required to scour the
record in search of evidence to defeat the motion; the
nonmoving party must identify with reasonable particularity
the evidence upon which the party relies.”).
Plaintiff's motion and his response to Defendants'
Statement of Facts impermissibly blend facts with legal
arguments. Legal arguments, suppositions, and conclusions of
law are not “facts.” See Judson Atkinson
Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d
371, 382 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008) (“It is inappropriate to
make legal arguments in a Rule 56.1 statement of
facts.”). Nor is the “response to a statement of
facts ... the place for purely argumentative denials, and
courts are not required to ‘wade through improper
denials and legal arguments in search of a genuinely disputed
fact.'” Almy v. Kickert Sch. Bus Line, No.
08 CV 2902, 2013 WL 80367, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan 7, 2013)
(Dow, J.) (internal citation omitted) (quoting Bordelon
v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th
the Court has disregarded Plaintiff's factual assertions
that conflict with his sworn deposition testimony.
“[L]itigants cannot create sham issues of fact with
affidavits that contradict their prior depositions.”
Janky v. Lake Cnty. Convention & Visitors
Bureau, 576 F.3d 356, 362 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. A&E Oil, Inc., 503 F.3d
588, 592 (7th Cir. 2007)). “A deponent may not use an
affidavit sworn to after a deposition to contradict
deposition testimony without giving a credible explanation
for the discrepancies.” Abraham v. Washington Group
Intern., Inc., 766 F.3d 735, 741 (7th Cir. 2014)
(citations omitted). Consequently, Plaintiff cannot now deny,
for example, that his cellmate sustained numerous stab wounds
in the course of the altercation at issue.
in responding to Defendants' statement of facts,
Plaintiff sometimes added information that should have been
set forth in a separate statement of additional facts
pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(c) See, e.g., McGuire
v. United Parcel Serv., 152 F.3d 673, 675 (7th Cir.
1998); De v. City of Chicago, 912 F.Supp.2d 709,
714-15 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (collecting cases). In several
instances it is not even clear whether Plaintiff is admitting
or disputing Defendants' asserted facts.
a layperson may not testify about matters involving medical,
technical, or other specialized knowledge. See Fed.
R. Evid. 701, 702. Thus, the Court has taken into account
Plaintiff's basic representations that, for example, he
vomited immediately after drinking F-House tap water. But the
Court has discounted those statements that call for a medical
or technical expert, such as that the mold on the wall caused
headaches or that Stateville's pipes somehow contaminate
the facility's drinking water. Plaintiff lacks the
necessary qualifications to express his personal analysis of
such specialized matters.
the above standards in mind, the Court has incorporated
Plaintiff's factual assertions to the extent that he
could properly testify about the matters asserted, so long as
those representations would be admissible at trial and have
bearing on the Court's analysis. The following facts, all
supported by the record, are undisputed for purposes of the
summary judgment motion [or the Court has noted instances of
Cortez Lyons is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections (hereinafter, “IDOC”).
(Defendants' Exhibit A to their Motion for Summary
Judgment, Complaint, at p. 2.) Plaintiff has been
incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center since
September 2013. (Id.; Defendants' Exhibit B,
Deposition of Cortez Lyons, at p. 12.) Defendants Ambosis
Vergara, William Shelvin (or Shevlin), Jerry Baldwin, and
Charles Best were all correctional officers at Stateville at
the time of the events giving rise to this action.
(Complaint, p. 2.) Defendant Terry Williams was
Stateville's warden at all times relevant. (Id.)
Defendant Salvador Godinez was the Director of the IDOC
during the relevant time period. (Id.)
April 24, 2014, Plaintiff had a row with his cellmate, Hector
Santiago. (Lyons Dep., p. 13.) Plaintiff contends that
Santiago was the aggressor, and that Santiago was bigger and
stronger than he. (Complaint, p. 4.) According to Plaintiff,
Santiago choked him, pushed him up against a wall, and tried
to stab him in his hand with an ink pen, although the pen
admittedly caused no damage. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts
that he only defended himself from attack. (Id.)
the struggle, Santiago sustained approximately thirteen stab
wounds from the pen. (Lyons Dep., pp. 14, 19-20.) Following
the altercation, the inmates were taken to the health care
unit for medical treatment. (Id., p. 14.) Santiago
received medical attention for his wounds, while Plaintiff
declined medical attention, as he had sustained no injuries
in the fight. (Id., pp. 14-15.)
five to ten minutes later, Defendant Vergara, an Internal
Affairs officer, interviewed Plaintiff about the incident.
(Id., pp. 15, 19.) During the interview, Vergara
advised Plaintiff of the allegations against him, informed
him about the extent of Santiago's injuries, and gave
Plaintiff the opportunity to recount his version of the
events that had taken place. (Id.) This interview
was Vergara's only contact with Plaintiff in connection
with this matter. (Id.) Defendant Shelvin was
present during Plaintiff's interview with Vergara.
(Id., p. 21.)
the interview, Shelvin issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket
charging him with fighting and assault. (Id., pp.
20-21.) As a result of the pending disciplinary proceedings,
correctional officials transferred Plaintiff to the
segregation unit's F-House. (Id., p. 24.)
5, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before a prison disciplinary
committee. (Defendants' Exhibit C, Adjustment Committee
Final Summary Report.) Defendants Best and Baldwin served on
the hearing committee. (Id.) At the hearing,
Plaintiff pleaded guilty to fighting, but not guilty to the
assault charge. (Lyons Dep., p. 35-36.) Plaintiff again
related his account of what had transpired with Santiago.
(Id.) Plaintiff admitted that he had stabbed
Santiago an unknown number of times, but stated that he had
done so only after Santiago tried to stab him first.
(Id., p. 36.) Plaintiff requested no witnesses.
(Defendants' Exhibit C.)
hearing the evidence, Best and Baldwin found Plaintiff guilty
of both fighting and assault. (Id.) The hearing
officers imposed a penalty of one year in segregation, a
one-year demotion to “C-grade, ” and one year of
commissary restriction. (Id.) Plaintiff gathers,
based on a conversation with Santiago in the segregation
unit, that the latter had to spend only thirty days in
segregation for fighting. (Lyons Dep., pp. 20, 38.) Plaintiff
makes this admitted “assumption” based on his
general knowledge that the “standard” IDOC
penalty for fighting is thirty days in segregation.
(Id., p. 39.) Plaintiff spent the next year in
F-House segregation other than when he had a furlough in May
2014 for an operation. (Id., pp. 28, 62.)
first cellmate in segregation, from Aril 25, 2014, until the
middle of August 2014, was Marvin Molina. (Id., p.
31.) Normally, inmates who arrive in segregation are issued a
“bedroll” that contains bedding, socks, and
underwear. (Id., p. 41.) But when Plaintiff moved
in, he did not receive a bedroll or fresh sheets.
(Id.) Authorities provided Plaintiff only with a
blanket and mattress upon his assignment to segregation.
(Defendants' Exhibit A-1, Grievance Dated August 19,
2014.) Plaintiff found that there were already sheets on his
bed in his new cell. (Lyons Dep., pp. 32, 40.) Plaintiff
believes that Molina's previous cellmate had slept on the
sheets left for him. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 3, Offender
Grievance, at p. 2.) Plaintiff has sensitive skin. (Lyons
Dep., p. 41.) He thought that the dirty sheets caused his