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Hughes v. Durrent

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

September 11, 2017

CAVINAUGH L. HUGHES (M-18138), Plaintiff,
SARGENT DURRENT, et al. Defendants.



         Plaintiff Cavinaugh L. Hughes, an Illinois state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Hughes claims that Defendants, correctional officials and health care providers who work at the Stateville Correctional Center, violated his constitutional rights by engaging in excessive force against him and acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. More specifically, Hughes contends that Defendants unjustifiably sprayed him with OC pepper spray and then denied him follow-up medical care.

         All of the Defendants, both Dr. Saleh Obaisi, a medical professional employed by Wexford Health Sources Inc. (hereafter “ Dr. Obaisi”), and the correctional staff (hereafter “the IDOC Defendants”), have filed motions for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). For the following reasons, the Court grants Dr. Obaisi's motion [68] in its entirety and grants in part and denies in part the IDOC Defendants' motion [95].

         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

         Local Rule 56.1 “is designed, in part, to aid the district court, ‘which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information, ' in determining whether a trial is necessary.” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Under Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), the moving party must provide “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue.” Ammons v. Aramark Unif. Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(a)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The opposing party must then “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.'” Cracco v. Vitran, Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). The opposing party may also present a separate statement of additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C)). A court may consider true any uncontested fact in the movant's Rule 56.1 Statement that is supported by the record and is not addressed by the opposing party. Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2); Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C).

         “District courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1.” Ciomber, 527 F.3d at 643 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A plaintiff's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with these rules. Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) (“even pro se litigants must follow rules of civil procedure”).

         As contemplated by Local Rule 56.1, Dr. Obaisi and the IDOC Defendants each filed a statement of uncontested material facts supporting summary judgment in their favor. (Obaisi. Stmt. of Fact, Doc. 69 (“Obaisi SOF”); IDOC Defs. Stmt. of Fact, Doc. 97 (“IDOC SOF”).) All Defendants also filed and served on Hughes a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, which explains in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1. (Docs. 72, 98.)

         Hughes filed several documents, which consist of multiple sub-parts, in response to Defendants' motions. As is relevant here, Hughes filed responses to both sets of Defendants' statements of uncontested fact. (“Pl's Resp. to Obaisi's Undisputed Material Facts, ” Doc. 106 at 1-13 (“Pl. Resp. Obaisi SOF”); “Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Material Facts [as to IDOC Defendants]”, Doc. 103 at 2-14 (“Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF”).) Hughes also submitted statements of additional facts. (“Pl. Set of Additional Material Facts for Trial [as to Obaisi].” Doc. 106 at 13-15 (“Pl. Obaisi SOAF”); “Pl. Set of Additional Material Genuine Facts for Trial [as to IDOC Defendants], ” Doc. 103 at 14-15 (“Pl. IDOC SOAF”).) Additionally, Hughes submitted two declarations, one in support of his claim against Dr. Obaisi (Doc. 108 at 1-3, (“Pl. Dec. (Obaisi)”)), and one regarding his claims against the IDOC Defendants (Doc. 103 at 16-18, (“Pl. Dec. (IDOC)”)), and approximately 20 pages of exhibits in support of his claim against Dr. Obaisi (Doc. 108 at 5-25) and approximately 25 pages of exhibits in support of his claims against the IDOC Defendants (Doc. 103 at 21-55).

         Where Hughes has pointed to evidence contrary to Defendants' statements of fact in his responses to those statements, the Court will consider that evidence. The Court will, in general, incorporate Hughes' factual assertions to the extent they provide additional facts relevant to the Court's analysis, are supported by record evidence, or are such that Hughes' properly could testify as to them at trial. The Court further will rely upon Hughes' references to exhibits where they are relevant to the Court's analysis and may be admissible at trial. But the Court will not dig through the record to identify disputed issues of fact. See Hemsworth v., Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007) (“In considering a motion for summary judgment, the district court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat the motion; the nonmoving party must identify with reasonable particularity the evidence upon which the party relies.”).

         Hughes, however, cannot create genuine issues of material fact by relying upon legal arguments, conclusions, or suppositions, which do not constitute “facts.” See Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371, 382 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008); see also Almy v. Kickert Sch. Bus Line, Inc., No. 08-cv-2902, 2013 WL 80367, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 7, 2013) (“[C]ourts are not required to ‘wade through improper denials and legal arguments in search of a genuinely disputed fact'”) (quoting Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000)). Nor may Hughes, without demonstrating some source of contrary evidence or personal knowledge of the events, counter Defendants' uncontested facts within their knowledge. See Fed. R. Evid. 602. Hughes cannot, for example, counter Dr. Obaisi's statement that other than via the Offender Injury Report, he was never notified/informed by any person that Hughes had requested an appointment with him, or Dr. Obaisi's statement that he interpreted the Report's notation that Hughes was “standing in the shower” to mean his eyes were being flushed, unless Hughes has an evidentiary foundation for disputing those representations. (Pl. Resp. Obaisi SOF ¶ 40, 37.)

         Finally, the Court will not consider Hughes' statements of additional facts because they are not factual assertions but rather consist of a series of open-ended legal questions beginning in “whether, ” e.g., “Whether Dr. Obaisi had the subjective knowledge which condoned his deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs”; . . . “Whether Defendant Durrett used excessive force when he used OC spray on Plaintiff while he was handcuffed in good faith or bad faith.” (Pl. Obaisi SOAF ¶ 2; Pl. IDOC SOAF ¶ 1.)

         With these guidelines established, the Court turns to the facts of this case.

         II. Factual Background

         A. Parties

         Plaintiff Hughes is an IDOC inmate who was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”) in August 2014 and is presently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”). (IDOC SOF ¶ 1.) In August 2014, Hughes was incarcerated in segregation at Stateville and was participating in the “weapons violator/staff assaulter program” as discipline for possessing a shank in IDOC custody. (Id. ¶ 5.)

         IDOC Defendants Sergeant Durrett, Officer Dobkowski, and Lieutenant Brown all worked in F-House at Stateville during August 2014. (Id. ¶¶ 2-4.) Defendant Dr. Obaisi is currently, and was in August 2014, the medical director at Stateville. (Obaisi SOF ¶ 2.)

         B. Hughes' Version of Events

         On August 5, 2014 at 8:51 a.m., Hughes was in a chow line that had stalled and backed up on the stairs. (Pl's Dec. (IDOC) ¶ 1.) Correctional Officer Moldovan ordered Hughes to keep moving; in response, Hughes attempted to explain that the line had backed up and he could not move. (Id.) Officer Moldovan called Hughes a “striper” (a term for inmates in the “weapons violator program”) and became aggressive. (Id.) Officer Moldovan grabbed Hughes' collar and snatched his I.D. card. (Id. ¶ 2.) Hughes reached back for his I.D., making contact with Officer Moldovan's hand. (Id.; Pl.'s Dep. at 15: L 13-16.) Hughes never closed his fist to strike Officer Moldovan and never touched Moldovan's face. (Pl's Dec. (IDOC) ¶ 2; Pl.'s Dep. at 26: L 8-14.) A “10-10” (officer in distress call) issued, and the responding officers immediately subdued, handcuffed, and then placed Hughes on the ground. (Pl's Dec. (IDOC) ¶ 3.) Hughes never resisted. (Id. ¶¶ 3-4.) Hughes agrees that the use of force up to this point was reasonable, as was handcuffing him. (IDOC SOF ¶ 30.)

         Several minutes later, Defendant Sgt. Durrett, shouting expletives, approached the second gallery landing where Hughes lay handcuffed on the ground. (Pl's Dec. (IDOC) ¶ 4.) He came from two flights of stairs down, and as he was coming to the top of the stairs at the second gallery, he pulled out his OC pepper spray and sprayed Hughes 3-5 times in rapid succession on the exposed side of his face. (Id.; Pl.'s Dep. at 21-22.) Sgt. Durrett gave no directives prior to spraying Hughes. (Pl.'s Dep. at 22: L. 8-14.) None of the officers present attempted to stop Sgt. Durrett from using his OC pepper spray. (Pl's Dec. (IDOC) ¶ 5.) Hughes does not know how long each burst lasted. (IDOC SOF ¶ 28.)

         Hughes was then taken to a non-working shower on the first gallery of F-House. (Pl's Dec. (IDOC) ¶ 5.) It is an unofficial practice at Stateville to use this area of showers as a waiting room for prisoners who have just committed a disciplinary infraction. (Pl.'s Dep. at 97-99: L. 8-24, 1-6.) A medical technician, Shanal Barnett, then arrived to examine Hughes and document his complaints. (Pl's Dec. (IDOC) ¶ 6.) Hughes informed CMT Barnett that he coincidentally had a healthcare appointment scheduled with Dr. Obaisi that day for an unrelated issue. (Pl.'s Dec. (Obaisi) ΒΆ 4.) ...

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