United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
pro se suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Dexter
Harris alleges that correctional officers Derek Coppes, Jacob
Deane, and Matthew Cortese used excessive force against him
at the Will County Adult Detention Facility
(“WCADF”). Doc. 8. With discovery closed, Doc.
48, Defendants move for summary judgment, Doc. 52. The motion
Harris's Noncompliance with Local Rule
with Local Rule 56.1, Defendants filed a Local Rule
56.1(a)(3) statement of undisputed facts along with their
summary judgment motion. Doc. 54. The 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 Harris a Local Rule 56.2
notice, which explains what Local Rule 56.1 requires of a
pro se litigant opposing summary judgment. Doc. 55.
Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) required Harris to file “a concise
response to [Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)] statement
… contain[ing] … a response to each numbered
paragraph in [Defendants'] 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).
Although Harris filed a memorandum of law opposing summary
judgment, Doc. 60, he did not file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B)
response to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement
or a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts.
The failure to file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response has
consequences, as the local rules provide that “[a]ll
material facts set forth in the [Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)]
statement … will be deemed to be admitted unless
controverted by the statement of the opposing party.”
N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C).
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) (collecting cases); see
also Zoretic v. Darge, 832 F.3d 639, 641 (7th Cir. 2016)
(same); Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 914 (7th Cir.
2016) (same, collecting cases); 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.”). Harris'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.”); Zoretic, 832 F.3d at 641
(“While we liberally construe the pleadings of
individuals who proceed pro se, neither appellate courts nor
district courts are obliged in our adversary system to scour
the record looking for factual disputes.”) (internal
quotation marks omitted); Welcher-Butler v. Brennan,
619 Fed.Appx. 550, 550 (7th Cir. 2015) (“The district
court has discretion to demand strict compliance with its
local rules, so we uphold its decision because even pro se
litigants must follow these rules.”) (citations
omitted); Brown v. Wyndemere LLC, 608 Fed.Appx. 424,
425 (7th Cir. 2015) (“[A] district court is entitled to
enforce its local rules, even against pro se
litigants.”) (citing Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d
1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006)); Townsend v. Alexian Bros.
Med. Ctr., 589 Fed.Appx. 338, 339 (7th Cir. 2015)
(“[The pro se plaintiff] did not …
properly respond to the defendants' [Local Rule
56.1(a)(3)] Statement of Material Facts or file a [Local Rule
56.1(b)(3)(C)] Statement of Additional Facts in response to
the defendants' motion for summary judgment. …
Thus, the district court adopted the factual representations
in the defendants' unopposed Statement of Material Facts,
and we enforce the court's choice to demand strict
compliance with the local rule.”).
the problem is not that Harris failed to strictly
comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B); rather, it is that he
did not comply at all. Accordingly, the court
accepts as true the facts set forth in Defendants' Local
Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement “to the extent th[ose] facts
[a]re supported by admissible and docketed evidence.”
Kreg Therapeutics, Inc. v. VitalGo, Inc., 919 F.3d
405, 411 (7th Cir. 2019) (“According to
well-established Seventh Circuit law, [the non-movant's]
noncompliance [with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B)] meant that the
district court could exercise its discretion to accept [the
movant's] statements of fact as undisputed.”)
(internal quotation marks omitted); see also Olivet
Baptist Church v. Church Mut. Ins. Co., 672 Fed.Appx.
607, 607 (7th Cir. 2017) (“The district court treated
most of the [movant's] factual submissions as unopposed,
because the [non-movant] 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.”)
(collecting cases); 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 [Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B)], those facts are
deemed admitted for purposes of the motion.”) (internal
quotation marks omitted); Keeton v. Morningstar,
Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880, 884 (7th Cir. 2012) (similar).
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[s]. [The
movants] must still demonstrate that [they are] entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Keeton, 667 F.3d
at 884 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Accordingly, the court will recite the facts as favorably to
Harris as the record and Local Rule 56.1 permit. See
Johnson v. Advocate Health & Hosps. Corp., 892 F.3d
887, 893 (7th Cir. 2018). At this juncture, the court must
assume the truth of those facts, but does not vouch for them.
See Gates v. Bd. of Educ. of Chi., 916 F.3d 631, 633
(7th Cir. 2019).
relevant times, Harris was housed at WCADF. Doc. 54 at
¶¶ 1-2, 14-15. Harris alleges that Defendants used
excessive force against him on January 9, 2018. Id.
at ¶¶ 2, 4; Doc. 8 at 5. Prior to January 9, 2018,
Harris had received the WCADF Inmate Handbook, which set
forth the procedures for submitting and processing grievances
about various matters, including allegations of officer
misconduct or mistreatment. Doc. 54 at ¶¶ 6, 14;
Doc. 54-4 at 3-4.
grievance process at WCADF has two steps: a “grievance
level” and an “appeal level.” Doc. 54 at
¶ 6. An inmate starts the “grievance level”
step by submitting an Inmate Request Form that eventually is
given to the head of the relevant department. Id. at
¶¶ 6-10. The department head must respond in
writing to the grievance within fifteen business days, and
the inmate is given a copy of the response. Id. at
¶¶ 11-12. If the inmate disagrees with the
response, he has 48 hours to submit another Inmate Request
Form-with the “Appeal of Grievance” box
checked-to initiate the “appeal level” step of
the grievance process. Id. at ¶ 13; Doc. 54-3
at ¶ 11.
testified that he was familiar as of January 9, 2018 with
WCADF's grievance process. Doc. 54 at ¶ 15. Harris
submitted three Inmate Request Forms in January 2018
regarding the alleged assault. Id. at ¶¶
17-20, 27; Docs. 54-5, 54-6, 54-7. Harris received timely
responses for each of the three grievances. Doc. 54 at
¶¶ 21-22, 24; Doc. 54-2 at 25, 27. The responses
denied Harris's account and did not take further action.
Docs. 54-5, ...