United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
SUMMARY JUDGMENT OPINION
MYERSCOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeding pro se and presently incarcerated at Stateville
Correctional Center, brought the present lawsuit pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging claims for excessive force and
retaliation that arose from his incarceration at Western
Illinois Correctional Center and Lawrence Correctional
Center. The matter comes before this Court for ruling on the
Defendants' Partial Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc.
88). The motion is granted in part and denied in part.
judgment should be granted “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). All facts must be construed in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable
inferences must be drawn in his favor. Ogden v.
Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010).
The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to be a
“genuine” issue, there must be more than
“some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “Only disputes
over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
the relevant time period, Plaintiff was incarcerated at
Western Illinois Correctional Center (“Western”)
and Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”).
Defendant Funk was the transfer coordinator for the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), and Defendant
Gooding was a correctional officer at Western. The remaining
defendants were employed at Lawrence in the following
capacities: Defendant Hodge was the Warden; Defendants Storm
and Tredway were Assistant Wardens; Defendant Strubhart was
the grievance officer; and Defendant Erickson was a
correctional officer. Plaintiff alleges a First Amendment
retaliation claim against each of these
December 7, 2012, Plaintiff arrived at Western Illinois
Correctional Center (“Western”) from another
prison. On December 13, 2012, Plaintiff was transferred to
Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”).
Plaintiff testified in his deposition that this transfer was
a “lateral” transfer, as opposed to a transfer to
a more restrictive prison for disciplinary reasons. Pl.'s
Dep. 27:2-7 (“Q. You indicated that both Western
Illinois and Lawrence are Level 2 facilities. Is that the
same as being a medium security facility? A. Yes. Q. So this
was a lateral transfer? A. Exactly.”). According to
documents Defendants provided, Western and Lawrence are both
“minimum or medium security” prisons that house
inmates in any grade classification with less than 20 years
remaining until the inmate's release date. (Doc. 89-3 at
show that Plaintiff's 2012 transfer from Western was
related to comments Plaintiff made about one of Western's
female employees in 2007. Specifically, Plaintiff filed a
grievance that read in relevant part: “For instance,
[the employee] is an individual with a history of frequenting
bars, getting drunk, meeting strangers, and later discovering
that she is pregnant by the unknown.” (Doc. 89-3 at 8).
Plaintiff's discipline for these comments included a
transfer to Stateville Correctional Center
(“Stateville”), a maximum security prison.
Pl.'s Dep. 9:19-24; see Illinois Department of
Corrections, All Facilities, available at:
Pages/AllFacilities.aspx (last accessed Feb. 6, 2017). The
records indicate that this employee still worked at Western
in 2012 when Plaintiff returned. Accordingly, Plaintiff was
transferred to Lawrence.
Lawrence, Plaintiff encountered issues with receiving his
property. Plaintiff testified that a non-defendant prison
guard confiscated several items, including a television that
was later cracked and cassette tapes to which Plaintiff
attached sentimental value. Pl.'s Dep. 22:7-23:24.
Plaintiff testified that he cannot produce evidence that the
guard was ordered by the Defendants to take these items.
complaints to prison administrators about these items, and
other perceived acts of retaliation, were so frequent that
Plaintiff likened his actions to those of a stalker or a
broken record. In response to those complaints, Defendant
Hodge met with Plaintiff, but did not resolve the issues to
Plaintiff's satisfaction. Instead, the results of this
meeting form the crux of Plaintiff's claims: “I
voiced all my concerns, the retaliation. He promised to look
into them. My TV could have been saved. My tapes could have
been saved, and he did absolutely nothing. It wasn't his
action. It was his inaction.” Pl.'s Dep. 33:20-24.
Tredway also listened to Plaintiff's concerns.
Id. 52:18-20 (“[I]f I would approach her on
the walk, she would hear what I had to say.”). When
Plaintiff met with her, however, she did not entertain
Plaintiff's complaints of retaliation, presumably the
same complaints Plaintiff made to Defendant Hodge and
Defendant Storm. Id. 51:10-16. Nonetheless,
Plaintiff testified that he has no evidence that Defendant
Tredway knew about Plaintiff's prior litigation.
Id. 53:14-22. Plaintiff, however, testified that he
discussed his prior litigation with Defendant Storm.
to Plaintiff, the inaction of prison officials was not
limited to high level administrators. Defendant Strubhart,
the grievance counselor, failed to resolve Plaintiff's
grievances in a manner satisfactory to Plaintiff. Plaintiff
asserts that the responses were not “in conjunction
with the administrative directives.” Id.
example, Plaintiff testified that Defendant Strubhart failed
to investigate a grievance regarding the events that gave
rise to Plaintiff's excessive force claims against
Defendant Erickson. A copy of the grievance discloses that
Defendant Strubhart, or Plaintiff's counselor, obtained a
statement from Defendant Erickson, but later recommended
denial of the grievance on the grounds that Plaintiff's
claims could not be substantiated. (Doc. 89-4 at 21).
Grievances in the record show that Defendant Strubhart
inquired with the relevant individual or department within
the prison each time Plaintiff filed a ...