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Nichols v. Best

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

September 5, 2017

Ar-Raafi Nichols (B-79295), Plaintiff,
Charles Best, Defendant.


          John J. Tharp, Jr., United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Ar-Raafi Nichols brought this pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that he was placed in segregation at the Stateville Correctional Center without due process. Before the Court is Defendant Charles Best's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 35.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.

         I. Legal Standard

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), this 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.” To establish that a material fact is undisputed, a party “must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Rule 56(c)(1). “The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.” Rule 56(c)(3). Courts must “construe all facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.” Van den Bosch v. Raemisch, 658 F.3d 778, 785 (7th Cir. 2011), citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         Once the party moving for summary judgment demonstrates the absence of a disputed issue of material fact, “the burden shifts to the non-moving party to provide evidence of specific facts creating a genuine dispute.” Carroll v. Lynch, 698 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2012). The non-movant must go beyond the allegations of his complaint and “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Hannemann v. Southern Door County School Dist., 673 F.3d 746, 751 (7th Cir. 2012). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if there is evidence “to permit a jury to return a verdict for” the nonmoving party. Egonmwan v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 602 F.3d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 2010); Carroll, 698 F.3d at 564 (“[m]ere metaphysical doubt” about material facts is not enough).

         B. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, Defendant served him with a “Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment” as required by Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.2. (Dkt. 37.) The notice explains the consequences of failing to properly respond to a motion for summary judgment and statement of material facts under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 56.1.

         Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue”, Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009), which Defendant here did. (Doc. 38.) “The opposing party is required to file ‘a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.'” Id. (citing N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Here Plaintiff submitted a response memorandum, verified under 28 U.S.C. § 1746 (Doc. 44), but he did not file a response to Defendant's statement of facts or provide his own statement of additional facts.[1]

         Although courts construe pro se pleadings liberally, see Thomas v. Williams, 822 F.3d 378, 385 (7th Cir. 2016), a plaintiff's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with federal and local procedural rules. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (holding that “we have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel”); Wilson v. Kautex, Inc., 371 Fed. App'x. 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2010) (“[S]trictly enforcing Local Rule 56.1 was well within the district court's discretion, even though Wilson is a pro se litigant.”) (citation omitted); Collins v. Illinois, 554 F.3d 693, 697 (7th Cir. 2009) (“even pro se litigants must follow procedural rules”). Accordingly, the Court accepts all assertions in Defendant's statement of facts as true to the extent that they are supported by the record. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C); Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013). Notwithstanding any admissions, however, the Court has interpreted Plaintiff's filings generously consistent with his pro se status and will construe those filings, as well as the record evidence (which includes his deposition in this case), in the light most favorable to him, to the extent that he has either pointed to evidence in the record or could properly testify himself about the matters asserted. See Sistrunk v. Khan, 931 F.Supp.2d 849, 854 (N.D. Ill. 2013); Fed.R.Evid. 602. With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts.

         II. Factual Background

         Plaintiff is an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center, where he is serving a 50-year prison sentence. (Doc. 38, D's SOF (hereafter “SOF”) at ¶¶ 1, 6.) Defendant, at all relevant times, was the Adjustment Committee Chairperson. (SOF ¶ 2.)

         At issue in this lawsuit is the approximately 60-day segregated confinement of Plaintiff in December 2013 through February 2014. (Id., ¶¶ 10-14.) On December 9, 2013, Plaintiff received a disciplinary charge for gambling, contraband/unauthorized property, and trading or trafficking. (Id., ¶ 10.) That day, he was put on investigation status and sent to segregation. (Id., ¶ 11.) On January 9, 2014, he received a disciplinary ticket for the same charges. (Id., ¶ 10; Doc. 44, P's Mem (hereafter “P's Mem”) at Ex. C.) On January 20, 2014, Plaintiff attended a hearing, was found guilty of the charges, and was sentenced to 30 days of segregation and one month of lost commissary. (SOF ¶ 13.) Although he then informed Defendant that at that time he had already been in segregation for over 30 days, Plaintiff was not released from segregation until February 9, 2014. (Id., ¶ 14; Doc. 6 at 4.)

         During Plaintiff's segregated confinement, he had a roommate, could go outside to exercise once a week, and could go to the healthcare unit on a medical pass. (SOF, ¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff was not allowed, however, to eat meals in the dining hall, attend religious services, or educational programs, or go to the law library. (P's Mem. at 4.) He was also not allowed audiovisual privileges, daily telephone calls, photographs or other ...

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