United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ST. EVE, District Court Judge
Centrell Gee, now a prisoner at Lawrence Correctional Center,
filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was subjected to
unconstitutional conditions of confinement in Division 1 of
the Cook County Jail from November 2014 to March 2015.
Defendant Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart moves for summary
judgment, arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies and that his claim fails on the
merits. For the following reasons, the Court grants
Defendant's motion as to the failure to exhaust, and as
such need not address Defendant's argument as to the
merits of Plaintiff's claim.
Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, Defendant served him
with a Local Rule 56.2 “Notice to Pro Se Litigant
Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment, ” as required by
Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.2. (Dkt. No. 48.)
That notice explains how to respond to a motion for summary
judgment, and in particular how to respond to a statement of
facts. It also explains that failure to comply with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Local Rule 56.1 will result in the Court
assuming the truth of the Defendant's factual assertions.
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) (internal citation omitted). 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 and that entitles the
moving party to judgment as a matter of law.”
Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th
Cir. 2009) (citing N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(a)(3)). “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)). The non-moving party also
may submit his own statements of facts, to which the moving
party must similarly reply. N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). The
Court may consider true a moving party's Rule 56.1
factual statement that is supported by the record and that is
not properly addressed by the opposing party. See
Id. (“All material facts set forth in the
statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be
admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing
party.”). The same rule applies for facts submitted by
a non-moving party that are not contested or responded to by
the moving party. See Koursa, Inc. v. manroland,
Inc., 971 F.Supp.2d 765, 770-71 (N.D. Ill. 2013) (citing
N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(a) (providing that if additional facts are
submitted by the opposing party, the movant may submit a
concise reply, and the failure to do so will result in the
additional facts being deemed admitted).
the purpose of Local Rule 56.1 statements and responses is to
identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the
material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments.
See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir.
2006) (holding that pro se plaintiff's statement
of material facts did not comply with Rule 56.1 as it
“failed to adequately cite the record and was filled
with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and
conjecture.”). “When a responding party's
statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving
party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule,
those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the
motion.” Cracco, 559 F.3d at 632; see also
Frey Corp. v. City of Peoria, Ill., 735 F.3d 505, 513
(7th Cir. 2013).
district court may insist on strict compliance with its local
rules regarding summary judgment. Metropolitan Life Ins.
v. Johnson, 297 F.3d 558, 562 (7th Cir. 2002). Although
Plaintiff is pro se, he was nonetheless obligated to
comply with Local Rule 56.1. See Cady, 467 F.3d at
1061 (“even pro se litigants must follow rules
of civil procedure”). Defendant submitted a Statement
of Material Facts in accordance with Local Rule 56.1. (Dkt.
46.) Plaintiff has not responded to Defendant's 56.1
factual statements, and thus the Court will consider them
true to the extent they are supported by the record. See
Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 880, 884 (7th Cir.
has submitted a Statement of Additional Material Facts to
which Defendant has responded. (See Dkt. Nos. 64,
73.) Most of Plaintiff's facts are not supported by
citations to the record, and many consist of legal argument.
Nevertheless, because Plaintiff is proceeding pro
se, the Court will consider the factual assertions in
his summary judgment materials about which he would be able
to competently testify at a trial. See Fed. R. Evid.
602; Williams v. Saffold, No. 15 C 3465, 2016 WL
1660527, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 27, 2016); Hill v. Officer
Phillips, No. 12 C 9404, 2014 WL 626966, at *1 (N.D.
Ill. Feb. 18, 2014). The Court observes, however, that the
facts as to exhaustion are really not in dispute. Rather, the
parties dispute whether exhaustion was required. With these
standards in mind, the Court turns to the facts of this case.
lawsuit arises from Plaintiff's allegations that he was
subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in
Division 1, Tier A2 of the Cook County Jail, where he was
housed from November 24, 2014, to sometime in March 2015.
(Def.'s Stmt. (Dkt. No. 46) at ¶¶ 4, 5.)
Plaintiff alleges conditions including mice in his cell, a
lack of hot water in his cell and in the shower, mold in the
shower that caused a rash, broken windows, and a leaking
toilet. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-20). The parties
disagree about the severity of these conditions and
Defendant's responsibility for creating them or allowing
them to persist. As noted above, however, the Court declines
to address the merits of the dispute.
exhaustion, Plaintiff did not file a grievance about the
conditions in his cell. (Id. at ¶ 23.)
Plaintiff acknowledged in his deposition testimony that he
received an inmate handbook upon entry to the Cook County
Jail, and that he was aware of the grievance procedure at the
jail. (Id. at ¶ 22; see Pl.'s
Dep., Dkt. No. 46-2, at 36:23-37:7.) Plaintiff described the
procedure as allowing detainees to submit complaints against
officers for unjust conditions. (Id.) Plaintiff
filed a grievance about the location of the showers in the
dayroom and the fact that detainees did not have privacy
while showering. (Id. at ¶ 23.) That was the
only grievance he could recall filing. (See
Pl.'s Dep. at 37:24-38:2.) (Pl.'s Stmt. (Dkt. No. 64)
at pg. 2, ¶ 1 under subheading
“Exhaustion.”) Plaintiff further states that Cook
County Jail inmates have been filing grievances since at
least 2010 with no improvement in the conditions, although he
again cites no evidence in support of this statement.
(Id. at pg. 3, ¶ 3.)
refers to a 2010 Department of Justice report describing
conditions at the jail that he states are similar to the
conditions in his lawsuit. (Id.) He does not attach
a copy of the report. As Defendant surmises, this is likely a
reference to a report created in advance of United States
v. Cook County, No. 10 C 2946, which resulted in the
entry of a consent decree requiring Sheriff Dart to implement
remedial measures to ensure constitutional conditions of
confinement at the jail. The consent decree was terminated as
to Sheriff Dart earlier this year after the Sheriff's
Office demonstrated sustained compliance with its provisions.
(See United States v. Cook County, No. 10 C 2946, at
Dkt. Nos. 358, 361.)
also states that as of 2017, the Department of Justice
released another report about Cook County Jail inmates having
been subjected to unconstitutional practices, and as a result
Division 1 was condemned. (Pl.'s Stmt. at pg. 3, ¶ 4
under subheading “Exhaustion.”) It is unclear,
however, to what report Plaintiff is referring, and he does
not provide it. Plaintiff further questions why he had to
exhaust his administrative remedies at all given that
there's “an ongoing suit about the conditions of
Cook County Jail.” (Id. at ¶ 5.) It is
unclear whether ...