United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Harold W.
Schuler's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 47). For the
following reasons, the motion is granted.
Juan Vargas, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), brings this
lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging his
constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated
at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big
Muddy”). Specifically, Vargas asserts he was sexually
assaulted by Defendant Charles Conrad, a prison official
supervising the dietary department. After he reported the
assault, Vargas alleges, Defendant Lt. Harold Schuler
attempted to cover it up. Vargas's complaint was screened
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A, and he was allowed to
proceed on the following claims:
Count 1: Defendant Conrad sexually assaulted
Plaintiff in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 2: Defendant Schuler was deliberately
indifferent when he covered up Conrad's assault on
Plaintiff in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and
Count 3: Defendant Schuler retaliated
against Plaintiff for reporting Conrad's sexual assault
in violation of the First Amendment.
Schuler filed a motion seeking judgment as a matter of law on
November 21, 2016 (Doc. 47). Along with his motion for
summary judgment, Defendant Schuler filed a Notice pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 informing Vargas of the
contents of Rule 56 and notifying him of the perils of
failing to respond within the proper thirty-day timeframe
(Doc. 49). Defendant's Notice specifically advised Vargas
that his failure to file a response by the deadline may, in
the Court's discretion, be considered an admission of the
merits of the motion pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(c)
receiving adequate notice, Vargas failed to file a response.
The Court deems Vargas's failure to respond to be an
admission as to the merits of Defendant Schuler's motion.
See SDIL-LR 7.1(c).
light of Vargas's failure to file a response to Defendant
Schuler's motion, the following pertinent facts are not
in dispute. The Court construes these facts and the
inferences drawn from them in favor of the non-movant to
determine whether summary judgment is appropriate in this
case. Smith on Behalf of Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d
419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).
claims in this matter concern incidents that occurred while
he was incarcerated at Big Muddy. Vargas worked in the
dietary department at Big Muddy during a period of time in
2013 and then again from February 2014 to April 2014 (Juan
Vargas Deposition, Doc. 48-1, pp. 4, 7). During this time,
Vargas asserts he was sexually assaulted by his supervisor,
Defendant Charles Conrad, who touched and caressed his
genital area on a number of occasions (Id. at p. 8).
Defendant Conrad resigned from his position at Big Muddy in
May 2014 (Doc. 48-2).
24, 2014, Vargas called the Prison Rape Elimination Act
(“PREA”) hotline and advised the operator of the
issues he was having with Conrad (Doc. 48-1, p. 11). On July
25, 2014, Vargas was interviewed by Defendant Schuler, a
lieutenant serving in the Investigations Unit at Big Muddy,
regarding Vargas's PREA call (Id.; Affidavit of
Harold Schuler, Doc. 48-2, ¶ 11; see Doc. 48-2,
pp. 9-11). Vargas explained to Defendant Schuler that Conrad
had sexually assaulted him, but indicated he could not
provide specific dates or names of any witnesses to
corroborate his allegations (Doc. 48-1, pp. 15-16). Vargas
testified that he requested an interpreter, but no
interpreter was provided (Id. at pp. 11, 17).
Defendant Schuler indicates that although there was no
interpreter at this interview, he could understand
Vargas's claims against Conrad (Doc. 48-2, ¶ 13).
Upon completion of the interview, Defendant Schuler escorted
Vargas to Mental Health Services (Doc. 48-1, p. 18; Doc.
48-2, ¶ 16).
his interview of Vargas, Defendant Schuler interviewed two
correctional food supervisors whom Vargas said he told about
the sexual assaults; however, these individuals did not
recall Vargas making any such reports (Doc. 48-2, ¶ 17).
Schuler was unable to interview Conrad since he had retired
(following another sexual assault investigation conducted by
Schuler that led to various charges, including Custodial
Sexual Misconduct) (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 9-10). ...