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Perkins v. Williams

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

January 17, 2018

ALVIN PERKINS #R-22915, Plaintiff,


          Gary Feinerman Judge

         Alvin Perkins brings this pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against Tarry Williams, at all relevant times the Warden of Stateville Correctional Center, and Tracy Engleson, at all relevant times the Superintendent of Stateville's Northern Reception and Classification Center (“NRC”), alleging that he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, from December 2013 to December 2014. Doc. 16. Defendants move for summary judgment. Doc. 58. The motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         Consistent with the local rules, Defendants filed a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement of undisputed facts with their summary judgment motion. Doc. 60. The relevant factual assertions in the Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement cite evidentiary material in the record and are supported by the cited material. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(a) (“The statement referred to in (3) shall consist of short numbered paragraphs, including within each paragraph specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph.”). Also consistent with the local rules, Defendants served on Perkins a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, which explains what Local Rule 56.1 requires of a pro se litigant opposing summary judgment. Doc. 61.

         The Seventh Circuit “has consistently upheld district judges' discretion to require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1.” Flint v. City of Belvidere, 791 F.3d 764, 767 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing cases); see also Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Because of the high volume of summary judgment motions and the benefits of clear presentation of relevant evidence and law, we have repeatedly held that district judges are entitled to insist on strict compliance with local rules designed to promote the clarity of summary judgment filings.”); Patterson v. Ind. Newspapers, Inc., 589 F.3d 357, 360 (7th Cir. 2009) (same). Perkins's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with Local Rule 56.1. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“[W]e have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”); Coleman v. Goodwill Indus. of Se. Wis., Inc., 423 F. App'x 642, 643 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Though courts are solicitous of pro se litigants, they may nonetheless require strict compliance with local rules.”); Wilson v. Kautex, Inc., 371 F. 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); Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) (“[E]ven pro se litigants must follow rules of civil procedure.”).

         Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) required Perkins to file a “concise response to [Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)] statement … contain[ing] 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.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). Perkins filed a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response, which denies some of Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) assertions. Doc. 63 at 1-12. But Perkins, in violation of Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B), failed to support his denials with citations to anything in the record, so his denials will be disregarded. Accordingly, as the local rules provide, the court accepts as true the facts set forth in Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) (“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.”); Olivet Baptist Church v. Church Mut. Ins. Co., 672 F. App'x 607, 607 (7th Cir. 2017) (“The district court treated most of the [defendant's] factual submissions as unopposed, because the [plaintiff] failed to contest them in the form required by Local Rule 56.1(b). We have held that the district court is entitled to enforce that rule in precisely the way it enforced the rule in this litigation.”); Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 218 (7th Cir. 2015) (“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.”) (citation omitted).

         That said, the court is mindful that “a nonmovant's failure to respond to a summary judgment motion or failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1 … does not … automatically result in judgment for the movant. [The movant] must still demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 884 (7th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). The court therefore will recite the facts in the Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement, viewing the facts and inferences therefrom as favorably to Perkins as the record and Local Rule 56.1 allow. See Canen v. Chapman, 847 F.3d 407, 412 (7th Cir. 2017). The court then will determine whether, on those facts, Defendants are entitled to summary judgment. At this juncture, the court must assume the truth of those facts, but does not vouch for them. See Arroyo v. Volvo Grp. N. Am., LLC, 805 F.3d 278, 281 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Williams was Warden of Stateville and the NRC from April 2014 to July 2015. Doc. 60 at ¶ 2. Engleson was Superintendent of the NRC from 1998 to 2016. Id. at ¶ 3. Perkins is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) presently housed at Menard Correctional Center. Id. at ¶ 1. Perkins entered the NRC on or about December 9, 2013, and was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center on or about December 9, 2014. Id. at ¶¶ 5, 56.

         While at the NRC, Perkins was issued one bar of soap per week, and was permitted to buy two additional bars of soap per month at the commissary. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. The bars sold at the commissary were three to four times larger than the bars issued weekly. Id. at ¶ 13. Perkins bought one bar of Ivory soap in January 2014, and then two bars of Ivory soap per month from February 2014 to October 2014. Id. at ¶ 14.

         Perkins was issued one tube of toothpaste, about a finger and a half long, once per week or every two weeks, and was permitted to buy toothpaste and toothbrushes at the commissary. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17. Perkins bought 4.2-ounce tubes of toothpaste in January 2014, March 2014, May 2014, June 2014, and October 2014, and 5-packs of short-handled toothbrushes in January 2014, March 2014, April 2014, May 2014, June 2014, July 2014, August 2014, September 2014, October 2014, and December 2014. Id. at ¶¶ 18-19.

         The jumpsuit and sheet that Perkins was issued upon entering the NRC smelled “like a factory.” Id. at ¶ 20. During his year at the NRC, Perkins was never given a replacement jumpsuit and his jumpsuit was never washed. Id. at ¶ 21. Perkins purchased a laundry bag from the commissary in May 2014 and was told repeatedly to turn his linen in; he put his linen on his door “a couple times, ” but it was never taken to the laundry. Id. at ¶¶ 22-23. Perkins was able to use soap and water in his cell to try to clean his clothes. Id. at ¶ 24. Perkins developed a rash that he believed was caused by a lack of soap and clean clothes. Id. at ¶ 25.

         Perkins observed mice and roaches in his cell on a daily basis, and observed mouse droppings in his cell “a couple times.” Id. at ¶¶ 29-30, 32. Perkins was never bitten and suffered no physical harm from the mice in his cell. Id. at ¶ 31. Perkins also observed gnats in his cell. Id. at ¶ 32. Other than being bitten once by a spider, Perkins suffered no physical harm from the insects in his cell. Id. at ¶ 33. The Critter Ridder extermination company visited the NRC multiple times per month to provide pest control services. Id. at ¶ 34.

         Perkins was provided with cleaning supplies on a “hit or miss” basis, and he used them when they were provided. Id. at ¶ 35. Perkins believed that the toilet in his cell “hadn't been cleaned in years” and observed that it was “caked” in what he described as a fungus or mold. Perkins developed a rash on his hand as a result of cleaning the substance he described as mold on his toilet. Id. at ¶ 39. The vent in Perkins's cell was full of dust buildup that caused him to suffer nausea and experience shortness of breath. Id. at ¶ 40. There was a substance Perkins believed was mold in his living unit's showers. Id. at ¶¶ 36-38.

         Perkins never had contact, either in person or by mail, with Warden Williams or Superintendent Engleson. Id. at ¶ 41. During the thirteen times Perkins saw his counselor at the NRC, he never complained about the conditions alleged in this case. Id. at ΒΆ 53. Perkins submitted one grievance, dated October 25, 2014, regarding his conditions of confinement; it focused on his laundry troubles and also ...

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