United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeds pro se from his detention in the Rushville Treatment
and Detention Facility pursuant to the Illinois Sexually
Violent Persons Act. He pursues constitutional claims for
denial of access to the court and retaliation for the
exercise of his First Amendment right to pursue lawsuits and
file grievances. One of Plaintiff's other pending cases
in this District, 13-cv-3097, was consolidated with this case
because the claims are similar.
the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For
the reasons explained below, summary judgment is granted on
Plaintiff's claim for denial of access to the courts.
Summary judgment is denied on Plaintiff's retaliation
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."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “In a § 1983 case, the
plaintiff bears the burden of proof on the constitutional
deprivation that underlies the claim, and thus must come
forward with sufficient evidence to create genuine issues of
material fact to avoid summary judgment.”
McAllister v. Price, 615 F.3d 877, 881 (7th Cir.
summary judgment stage, the evidence is viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmovant, with material factual
disputes resolved in the nonmovant's favor. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A
genuine dispute of material fact exists when a reasonable
juror could find for the nonmovant. Id.
Summary judgment is granted to Defendants on Plaintiff's
claim for denial of access to the courts. Plaintiff
has not shown how the alleged shortcomings
of the legal resources at Rushville impeded Plaintiff's
constitutional right to access the court is not “an
abstract freestanding right to a law library or legal
assistance.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351
(1996). The right to access the courts means the right to
pursue nonfrivolous claims, not the right to various legal
resources. See Ortloff v. United States, 335 F.3d
652, 656 (7th Cir. 2003)(“[A] right to access-to-courts
claim exists only if a prisoner is unreasonably prevented
from presenting legitimate grievances to a court; various
resources, documents, and supplies merely provide the
instruments for reasonable access and are not protected in
and of themselves.”)(abrogated on other grounds
as recognized in Parrott v. U.S., 536 F.3d 629,
635 (7th Cir. 2008)).
an access claim is viable only if a plaintiff suffered an
“actual injury” from the inability to pursue a
nonfrivolous claim. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351; In
re Maxy, 674 F.3d 658, 660 (7th Cir. 2012); May v.
Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 883 (7th Cir. 2000). There must
be a “connection between the alleged denial of access
to legal materials and an inability to pursue a legitimate
challenge to a conviction, sentence, or prison
conditions.” Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664,
671 (7th Cir.2009) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
“Without a tenable argument to pursue . . ., [a
plaintiff] cannot show actual prejudice resulting from denial
of access to the law library.” McCree v.
Grissom, 657 F.3d 623, 624 (7th Cir. 2011).
identifies six cases in which he claims he suffered injury
because of Rushville's lack of legal resources.
(Pl.'s Aff. paras. 82-87.)
the six cases identified by Plaintiff is his state civil
detention proceedings (12MR419, Winnebago County). Plaintiff
has a statutory right to appointed in counsel in that case.
725 ILCS 207/25(c)(1). An individual's right to access
the courts is satisfied by the appointment of counsel.
U.S. v. Sykes, 614 F.3d 303, 310 (7th
Cir. 2010). That Plaintiff has chosen to proceed pro se in
his detention proceeding does not require Defendants to
supply the legal resources for Plaintiff to do so. See
U.S. v. Sykes, 614 F.3d 303, 311
(2010)(“‘The rule is that [the defendant] has the
right to legal help through appointed counsel, and when he
declines that help, other alternative rights, like access to
a law library, do not spring up.'”)(quoting
United States v. Byrd, 208 F.3d 592, 593 (7th
Cir. 2000)(brackets in Sykes).
does not explain how the alleged lack of resources is
connected to the other five cases' outcomes.
example, in Powers v. Chandler, 10-cv-50097 (N.D.
Ill.), summary judgment was granted to Defendants in various
orders and affirmed on appeal. Plaintiff contends that
Defendants Mesrobian and Carter were dismissed “based
on a discovery violation, ” but the docket in that case
shows that Defendant Carter was dismissed because Plaintiff
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies when he did not
file a timely appeal to the Administrative Review Board.
(6/22/11 order, 10-cv-50097.) Defendant Mesrobian (who was
deceased) was dismissed when Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint which did not include Mesrobian as a ...