United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge
October 2014, while confined at Menard Correctional Center,
Michael Fields (Plaintiff) filed a pro se civil rights
complaint in this Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983, naming two
Defendants - Richard Ransom and “C/O Quant.”
Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated his
federally-secured constitutional rights.
threshold review, the undersigned dismissed certain claims
but found that the complaint stated a cognizable claim for
retaliation (in violation of the First Amendment) against
both Defendants. “C/O Quant” initially was
believed to be Shane Quant, but later information clarified
that the correct individual was Eric Quant (see Doc.
35). Defendants answered, a discovery schedule was entered,
and the case proceeded. Now before the Court is
Defendants' motion for summary judgment and supporting
memorandum (Docs. 56-57), to which Plaintiff filed a brief in
opposition (Doc. 59). For the reasons delineated below, the
Court grants Defendants' motion.
Summary of Allegations and Evidence
narrowed by the Court's threshold review Order, Plaintiff
alleges that Quandt and Ransom (Defendants) retaliated
against him for filing a grievance against Quandt on December
3, 2012. The act of retaliation was confiscation of
Plaintiff's eyeglasses in a cell search in June 2013
(Doc. 8, p. 2). The key facts and allegations, drawn from the
record properly before the Court (including exhibits, sworn
declarations, and the transcript of Plaintiff's May 2016
deposition) are summarized as follows.
7, 2013, Richard Ransom, a correctional officer at Menard
Correctional Center, conducted a shakedown of Plaintiff's
cell in the West Cell House of Menard (Doc. 57-2, p. 2).
Plaintiff believes the shakedown occurred on June 9, 2013,
but an exhibit from the search (the Illinois Department of
Corrections Shakedown Record, referred to as a
“shakedown slip”) indicates that the search
occurred on June 7, 2013 (Doc. 57-3, p. 1; Doc. 59, p. 17;
Doc. 1, p. 18; 57-3, p. 23-24).
cell, Ransom located three pairs of eyeglasses with pointed
metal ends on the earpieces; he confiscated them (Doc. 57-3,
p. 1; 57-2, p. 2). Two of the pairs belonged to Plaintiff;
the third belonged to his cellmate, Anthony McGruder (Doc.
57-1, p. 24-25). Ransom attests in a sworn declaration that
he confiscated the eyeglasses at the instruction of his
supervisors, a directive issued after it was learned that
inmates in the West Cell House, where Plaintiff's cell
was located, were using the metal earpieces for weapons (Doc.
57-2, p. 1-2). Plaintiff testified that one of the eyeglasses
was rubber and not metal (Doc. 57-1, p. 25).
officer Eric Quandt witnessed the shakedown, according to the
shakedown slip (Doc. 57-2, p. 2; 57-3, p. 1). Plaintiff
points out that Eric Quandt actually was assigned to
“the tower” (not the West Cell House) on June 9,
2013 (the day Plaintiff believes the shakedown took place).
But he acknowledges that the tower was closed that day, and
Quandt may have been on a floating rotation and thus in
Plaintiff's cellhouse during the shakedown (Doc. 57-1, p.
19; Doc. 59, p. 19). Regardless of the date the shakedown
occurred, both sides admit that Quandt was present during the
shakedown, and the Court assumes Quandt's presence during
the cell search for purposes of the summary judgment motion.
alleged in his complaint that his glasses were taken
in retaliation for his filing a grievance against Quandt in
December 2012. Plaintiff testified in his deposition
that Ransom (a month or two after the shakedown,
when confronted by Plaintiff about why Ransom took the
eyeglasses) said to Plaintiff “You complain too
much” (Doc. 57-1, p. 20, 36-37).
also testified that he wrote a grievance against Quandt on
December 3, 2012, based on the fact Quandt would not let him
use the restroom while he was in the healthcare unit (Doc.
57-1, p. 38). Plaintiff admitted that he had not talked to
Quandt about the grievance or shown the grievance to him
(Id. at p. 39). In response to that grievance,
Plaintiff's counselor contacted the healthcare unit and
determined that the restrooms were for staff only (Doc. 1, p.
23). Plaintiff testified that (a) the timeline of events led
him to believe the confiscation of his eyeglasses was an act
of retaliation for him filing a grievance against Quandt six
months earlier, (b) Plaintiff presumed that Ransom was
referring to the grievance when Ransom one day commented that
Plaintiff complained too much (Doc. 57-1, p. 43). When
pressed (in his deposition) as to his belief that Quandt took
the glasses because of the December 2012 grievance,
Plaintiff testified simply: “I'm saying it's
possible” (Id., p. 44).
also suggested he could have been retaliated against because
he had two lawsuits pending against high ranking officers at
Menard, one of which he says was filed just three or four
weeks before his glasses were taken (Doc. 59, p. 7).
Plaintiff identified one of those cases as Fields v.
Restoff, Case No. 13-cv-0145-JPG-DGW filed on February
11, 2013 (Doc. 59, p. 7 n. 5). He identified the other case
as Fields v. Dettrott, Case No. 12-cv-0420. There is
no case listed in this District by that name, and that number
was a case against petroleum refineries for municipal
Plaintiff asserts that he did not receive any notice that the
eyeglasses were declared prohibited. Plaintiff claims that
when items previously were deemed contraband, the inmates
would receive notices of future confiscations. Plaintiff
points to two notices he received regarding confiscation of
items that the prison changed to contraband, typewriters and
hard plastic hairbrushes (Doc. 59-2, p. 7-8). Plaintiff says
he did not get a notice about metal eyeglasses being declared
contraband. Plaintiff also provides affidavits from five
inmates testifying that they have plastic eyeglasses with
malleable metal substance in the earpieces, and they never
had their glasses confiscated (Doc. 59-2, p. 10-13; Doc.
59-3, p. 1-6).