United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants Patrick Severs and Richard Harrington (Doc. 101).
Plaintiff Darrin W. Shatner is an inmate in the custody of
the Illinois Department of Corrections, and Defendants are
employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections. On June
23, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 (Doc. 2). On July 18, 2013, the Court screened
the complaint and severed Plaintiff's claims into
separate lawsuits (Doc. 1). On April 29, 2015, the Court
dismissed Defendants New, Godinez, Allen, Richard, and Veath
on summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative
remedies (Doc. 81.) Plaintiff now proceeds on the following
Count 4: On August 27, 2012, Defendants
Severs and Harrington wrongfully issued Plaintiff a
disciplinary ticket in retaliation for Plaintiff's
entered the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections
in 1993 (Doc. 102-1 at 1). From October 13, 2010, to January
9, 2013, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Menard Correctional
Center (“Menard”) (Id. at 2). During the
times relevant to the Complaint, Defendant Severs was the
property room officer, and Defendant Harrington was the
assistant warden (Id. at 2, 7).
August 14, 2012, Officer McDonough, Sergeant Dunn, Major
Dilday, and Major Cowans conducted a search of
Plaintiff's cell and seized property that included
Plaintiff's art supplies and religious materials
(Id. at 4). The property seized from Plaintiff's
cell was moved to the personal property room (Id.).
August 27, 2012, upon Plaintiff's request for the return
of his property, Officer New searched the property seized
from Plaintiff's cell for contraband (Id. at 3;
Doc. 116 at 42; Doc. 116-1 at 28). During the search, Officer
New found three sewing needles in a pencil lead container
(Doc. 116 at 42). Defendant Severs witnessed the search,
which took place in the property room (Id.; Doc.
102-2). Because the sewing needles constituted contraband at
Menard,  Officer New issued a disciplinary ticket
to Plaintiff and listed Defendant Severs and Sergeant Richard
as witnesses (Id. at 39-40, 42; Doc. 102-2 at 1-2;
Doc. 102-3 at 1).
August 30, 2012, following a hearing, the adjustment
committee found Plaintiff guilty of possession of dangerous
contraband and sentenced him to six months of C grade status,
commissary restrictions, and segregation (Doc. 116 at 39-40).
On June 21, 2013, Plaintiff filed this action (Doc. 2).
to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
district 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.” When presented with a motion for
summary judgment the court must view all facts and reasonable
inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Sartor v. Spherion Corp., 388 F.3d 275, 278 (7th
Cir. 2004). The summary judgment phase of litigation has been
described as the “‘put up or shut up' moment
in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has
that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of
events.” Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc.,
325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003).
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because they
were not personally involved in the alleged wrongdoing. It is
well established that “§ 1983 lawsuits against
individuals require personal involvement in the alleged
constitutional deprivation to support a viable claim”
and that respondeat superior is not a basis for
liability. Palmer v. Marion Cnty., 327 F.3d 588, 594
(7th Cir. 2003). Under some circumstances supervisory
employees may be subject to liability in § 1983
lawsuits, but “there must at least be a showing that
the [defendant] acquiesced in some demonstrable way in the
alleged constitutional violation.” Id.
Defendant Severs played a limited role in the issuance of the
disciplinary ticket, Plaintiff provides no evidence that
Defendant Harrington was involved in or acquiesced to the
issuance. Rather, Plaintiff relies solely on Defendant
Harrington's position as assistant warden (see
e.g., Doc. 116 at 6; 102-1 at 6). Without evidence of
personal involvement, Plaintiff's claim against Defendant
Harrington cannot survive summary judgment. When faced with a
motion for summary judgment, the non-movant “must
produce more than a scintilla of evidence to support his
position.” Pugh v. City Of Attica, Indiana,
259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff has failed to
meet this burden. Therefore, Defendant Harrington is entitled
to summary judgment.
also argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because
the evidence does not demonstrate a claim of First Amendment
retaliation. “To prevail on a First Amendment
retaliation claim, [plaintiff] must ultimately show that (1)
he engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment; (2)
he suffered a deprivation that would likely deter First
Amendment activity in the future; and (3) the First Amendment
activity was at least a motivating factor in the
Defendants' decision to take the retaliatory
action.” Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546
(7th Cir. 2009). “Once the plaintiff proves that an
improper purpose was a motivating factor, the burden shifts
to the defendant . . . to prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that the same actions would have occurred in the
absence of the protected conduct.” Spiegla v.
Hull, 371 F.3d 928, 943 (7th Cir. 2004); Babcock v.
White, 102 F.3d 267, 275 (7th Cir. 1996).
argue they did not act with an improper purpose and further
argue the disciplinary ticket would have been issued
regardless of any protected conduct or improper purpose
because sewing needles are banned at Menard. With respect to
the disciplinary ticket, the evidence indicates that
Defendant Severs's role was limited to witnessing Officer
New's discovery of the three sewing needles. Considering
Defendant Severs's limited role and the absence of any
personal involvement by Defendant Harrington, the Court
agrees that, even assuming an ...