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Lorenzo v. Pfister

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

July 27, 2017




         This cause is before the Court on the Parties' pending motions, including Defendants Randy Pfister, Guy Pierce, and Ed Vilt's motion for summary judgment.


         Plaintiff Wilson Lorenzo is an inmate within the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center. During the relevant time, however, Lorenzo was housed at the Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”). Also during the relevant time, Defendant Randy Pfister was the warden at Pontiac; Defendant Guy Pierce was an assistant warden at Pontiac; and Defendant Ed Vilt was an internal affairs lieutenant at Pontiac.

         On September 27, 2013, Lorenzo received a disciplinary ticket and was transferred from the Hill Correctional Center (“Hill”) to Pontiac. The disciplinary ticket charged Lorenzo with organizing gang hierarchy at Hill. On October 2, 2013, Pontiac's Adjustment Committee found Lorenzo guilty of the infraction charged at Hill and imposed discipline upon Lorenzo of three months in segregation, three months of yard restriction, and six months of contact visitation restrictions. Lorenzo was then placed in disciplinary segregation until December 27, 2013. On December 27, 2013, Lorenzo was moved to Pontiac's administrative detention where he remained until April 23, 2014. On April 23, 2014, Lorenzo was transferred to the Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). At Stateville, Lorenzo returned to the general inmate population and was no longer on any type of detention status.

         On December 10, 2015, Lorenzo filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants had violated his Constitutional rights. Specifically, Lorenzo alleged that Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by placing him into administrative segregation without a hearing and without being allowed to call witnesses on his behalf. In addition, Lorenzo claimed that administrative segregation is much harsher than normal prison life, and therefore, Defendants violated his Due Process rights by placing him into administrative segregation. The Court conducted a merit review of Lorenzo's Complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and determined that Lorenzo's Complaint stated a claim against Defendants for allegedly violating his Due Process rights. Defendants have now moved for summary judgment on Lorenzo's claim against them.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment shall 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); Ruiz-Rivera v. Moyer, 70 F.3d 498, 500-01 (7th Cir. 1995). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence, not mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, which demonstrates that there is a genuine issue for trial. Gracia v. Volvo Europa Truck, N.V., 112 F.3d 291, 294 (7th Cir. 1997). “[A] party moving for summary judgment can prevail just by showing that the other party has no evidence on an issue on which that party has the burden of proof.” Brazinski v. Amoco Petroleum Additives Co., 6 F.3d 1176, 1183 (7th Cir. 1993). “As with any summary judgment motion, we review cross-motions for summary judgment construing all facts, and drawing all reasonable inferences from those facts, in favor of the nonmoving party.” Laskin v. Siegel, 728 F.3d 7314, 734 (7th Cir. 2013)(internal quotation marks omitted).

         Accordingly, the non-movant cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must designate specific facts in affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or admissions that establish that there is a genuine triable issue; he must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 261 (Brennan, J., dissenting)(1986)(quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)); Hot Wax, Inc. v. Turtle Wax, Inc., 191 F.3d 813, 818 (7th Cir. 1999). Finally, a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is not sufficient to oppose successfully a summary judgment motion; “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.


         Before turning to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court must consider the motions that Lorenzo filed that affect the summary judgment motion. First, Lorenzo moves to strike Defendants' motion for summary judgment, memorandum in support, and affidavit from Major Chad Brown that they submitted in support of their motion for summary judgment. Lorenzo argues that they Court should strike these pleadings because Defendants obtained the affidavit via “inappropriate means.” Lorenzo claims that Defendants used Major Brown's affidavit that he provided in a case that is or was pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, and therefore, Major Brown's affidavit has no relevance to the facts of his case, especially given the fact that Major Brown signed the affidavit months before the Court ever entered a Scheduling Order in this case.

         In response, Defendants admit that they committed a clerical error in submitting Major Brown's affidavit, in that, the affidavit contained the incorrect case caption and was dated 2016 rather than 2017 when Major Brown actually executed the affidavit. Defendants assert that the substance of Major Brown's affidavit is related to the facts of Lorenzo's case, and therefore, Defendants move for leave to amend Major Brown's affidavit.

         Lorenzo's motion is denied, and Defendants' motion is granted. The Court has reviewed Major Brown's two affidavits and finds that they are identical other than the caption and the date upon which Major Brown executed his affidavit. The substance of the two is the same. Lorenzo has not been prejudiced as a result of the filing of the original affidavit, nor will he be prejudiced by allowing Defendants to correct the affidavit's clerical error.

         Moreover, the records that Defendants produced to Lorenzo in June 2016 indicate that Major Brown served on the Adjustment Committee that imposed discipline on Lorenzo. Accordingly, Lorenzo should not have been surprised to have received an affidavit from Major Brown in support of Defendants' motion for summary judgment. In any event, Lorenzo has not shown that the affidavit ...

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