Lorenzo v. Godinez et al
ORDER - Entered by Judge Sara Darrow on 7/27/2017. See written Order. The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment in Defendants' favor and against Plaintiff. All deadlines and settings on the Court's calendar are vacated. (LN, ilcd)
Thursday, 27 July, 2017 03:40:10 PM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
) No.: 15-1506-SLD
RANDY PFISTER, GUY PIERCE, and
This cause is before the Court on the Parties’ pending motions, including Defendants
Randy Pfister, Guy Pierce, and Ed Vilt’s motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff Wilson Lorenzo is an inmate within the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center. During the relevant
time, however, Lorenzo was housed at the Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”). Also during
the relevant time, Defendant Randy Pfister was the warden at Pontiac; Defendant Guy Pierce
was an assistant warden at Pontiac; and Defendant Ed Vilt was an internal affairs lieutenant at
On September 27, 2013, Lorenzo received a disciplinary ticket and was transferred from
the Hill Correctional Center (“Hill”) to Pontiac. The disciplinary ticket charged Lorenzo with
organizing gang hierarchy at Hill. On October 2, 2013, Pontiac’s Adjustment Committee found
Lorenzo guilty of the infraction charged at Hill and imposed discipline upon Lorenzo of three
months in segregation, three months of yard restriction, and six months of contact visitation
restrictions. Lorenzo was then placed in disciplinary segregation until December 27, 2013. On
December 27, 2013, Lorenzo was moved to Pontiac’s administrative detention where he
remained until April 23, 2014. On April 23, 2014, Lorenzo was transferred to the Stateville
Correctional Center (“Stateville”).
At Stateville, Lorenzo returned to the general inmate
population and was no longer on any type of detention status.
On December 10, 2015, Lorenzo filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that
Defendants had violated his Constitutional rights. Specifically, Lorenzo alleged that Defendants
violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by placing him into administrative segregation
without a hearing and without being allowed to call witnesses on his behalf. In addition,
Lorenzo claimed that administrative segregation is much harsher than normal prison life, and
therefore, Defendants violated his Due Process rights by placing him into administrative
segregation. The Court conducted a merit review of Lorenzo’s Complaint as required by 28
U.S.C. § 1915A and determined that Lorenzo’s Complaint stated a claim against Defendants for
allegedly violating his Due Process rights. Defendants have now moved for summary judgment
on Lorenzo’s claim against them.
LEGAL STANDARDS GOVERNING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment shall be granted
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. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); Ruiz-Rivera v. Moyer, 70 F.3d
498, 500-01 (7th Cir. 1995). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary
evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party must
come forward with specific evidence, not mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, which
demonstrates that there is a genuine issue for trial. Gracia v. Volvo Europa Truck, N.V., 112 F.3d
291, 294 (7th Cir. 1997). “[A] party moving for summary judgment can prevail just by showing
that the other party has no evidence on an issue on which that party has the burden of proof.”
Brazinski v. Amoco Petroleum Additives Co., 6 F.3d 1176, 1183 (7th Cir. 1993). “As with any
summary judgment motion, we review cross-motions for summary judgment construing all facts,
and drawing all reasonable inferences from those facts, in favor of the nonmoving party.” Laskin
v. Siegel, 728 F.3d 7314, 734 (7th Cir. 2013)(internal quotation marks omitted).
Accordingly, the non-movant cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must designate
specific facts in affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or admissions that establish
that there is a genuine triable issue; he must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 261
(Brennan, J., dissenting)(1986)(quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 586 (1986)); Hot Wax, Inc. v. Turtle Wax, Inc., 191 F.3d 813, 818 (7th Cir. 1999).
Finally, a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant’s position is not sufficient to oppose
successfully a summary judgment motion; “there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the [non-movant].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
LORENZO’S MOTIONS ARE DENIED
Before turning to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the Court must consider
the motions that Lorenzo filed that affect the summary judgment motion. First, Lorenzo moves
to strike Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, memorandum in support, and affidavit from
Major Chad Brown that they submitted in support of their motion for summary judgment.
Lorenzo argues that they Court should strike these pleadings because Defendants obtained the
affidavit via “inappropriate means.”
Lorenzo claims that Defendants used Major Brown’s
affidavit that he provided in a case that is or was pending in the United States District Court for
the Southern District of Illinois, and therefore, Major Brown’s affidavit has no relevance to the
facts of his case, especially given the fact that Major Brown signed the affidavit months before
the Court ever entered a Scheduling Order in this case.
In response, Defendants admit that they committed a clerical error in submitting Major
Brown’s affidavit, in that, the affidavit contained the incorrect case caption and was dated 2016
rather than 2017 when Major Brown actually executed the affidavit. Defendants assert that the
substance of Major Brown’s affidavit is related to the facts of Lorenzo’s case, and therefore,
Defendants move for leave to amend Major Brown’s affidavit.
Lorenzo’s motion is denied, and Defendants’ motion is granted. The Court has reviewed
Major Brown’s two affidavits and finds that they are identical other than the caption and the date
upon which Major Brown executed his affidavit. The substance of the two is the same. Lorenzo
has not been prejudiced as a result of the filing of the original affidavit, nor will he be prejudiced
by allowing Defendants to correct the affidavit’s clerical error.
Moreover, the records that Defendants produced to Lorenzo in June 2016 indicate that
Major Brown served on the Adjustment Committee that imposed discipline on Lorenzo.
Accordingly, Lorenzo should not have been surprised to have received an affidavit from Major
Brown in support of Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. In any event, Lorenzo has not
shown that the affidavit contains false or incorrect information, and thus, there is no basis for
striking Major Brown’s affidavit.
Second, Lorenzo has filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d)
indicating that he cannot properly respond to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment because
he needs additional discovery, has filed a motion requesting that the Court compel Defendants to
produce certain discovery pursuant to Federal Rule 37, and has filed a motion to re-open
discovery so that he may conduct discovery directed towards Major Brown to determine
whether, in fact, a clerical error was committed in submitting Major Brown’s affidavit or
whether something nefarious was at work. Lorenzo’s motions are denied.
As for his motion under Rule 56(d), Lorenzo asks the Court to delay ruling on
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment until such time as Defendants produce the discovery
that he requested and that he needs to respond properly to the motion for summary judgment. In
furtherance of Lorenzo’s position that Defendants have not properly or adequately responded to
his discovery requests, Lorenzo has also filed a motion asking the Court to compel Defendants to
produce certain information, material, and documents that are responsive to his discovery
requests but that Defendants have failed or refused to produce.
Defendants respond that Lorenzo has now received additional documents that are
responsive to his discovery requests. To the extent that some document requested by Lorenzo
has not been provided to him, Defendants contend that the document either does not exist or was
not provided based upon their asserted objections to Lorenzo’s discovery requests.
As for his motion to compel, Lorenzo’s motion appears to be mooted by the production
of the additional documents. 1 As for Plaintiff’s motion under Rule 56(d), it too is mooted by two
facts. One, Lorenzo has, in fact, filed a response to Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. 2
To the extent that Defendants have not produced additional requested documents, the Court
sustains Defendants’ objection to those discovery requests and finds that no further
supplementation is necessary.
In his response, Lorenzo continues his claim that he cannot properly respond to Defendants’
motion for summary judgment and asks the Court to delay ruling under Rule 56(d). However,
even if the Court were to grant Lorenzo the relief that he seeks, any document that would be
responsive to his requests (to the extent that such a document exists) would not demonstrate that
Lorenzo possessed a protectable liberty interest that Defendants violated. Therefore, Defendants
would still be entitled to summary judgment.
Therefore, contrary to his representation that he could not file a response without first obtaining
the additional documents, Lorenzo has filed his response.
Two, Defendants produced the additional documents in April 2017. Since that time,
Lorenzo has not attempted to supplement his response in any manner even though he has filed
other pleadings. The Court interprets Lorenzo’s silence as an indication that the documents
produced in April had no bearing or effect upon the arguments that he made in his response to
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Even though Lorenzo is proceeding pro se, he has
demonstrated an ability to litigate the case through his motion practice. Therefore, had Lorenzo
wanted to supplement his response, he could have and should have sought to have done so in the
three months between the production of the additional documents and this Order. Lorenzo has
not done so, and therefore, there is no need to further delay ruling on Defendants’ motion for
As for his motion to re-open discovery, Lorenzo asks the Court to re-open discovery so
that he may make further inquiries into Major Brown’s testimony, something that he asserts that
he was precluded from doing because Defendants did not disclose Major Brown, as they should
have, in their initial disclosures. But, as noted supra, Lorenzo was aware of Major Brown’s
participation on the Adjustment Committee and, therefore, should not have been surprised by his
In any event, Defendants have represented that Major Brown did not submit an affidavit
in the captioned case pending in the Southern District of Illinois. Therefore, there is no reason to
re-open discovery to allow Lorenzo to obtain an affidavit that does not exist (i.e., the one that
Lorenzo believes was filed in the Southern District of Illinois).
Lorenzo may question
Defendants’ representation that Major Brown’s originally filed affidavit merely contained a
clerical error, but he has offered nothing other than his suspicions that would support re-opening
discovery in the manner that he has requested. Therefore, his motion is denied.
Third, Lorenzo asks the Court to reconsider is prior ruling and to appoint counsel to
represent him. Lorenzo’s motion is denied.
As the Court has previously explained to Lorenzo, the Court does not possess the
authority to require an attorney to accept pro bono appointments on civil cases such as this.
Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 653 (7th Cir. 2007). The most that the Court can do is to ask for
volunteer counsel. Jackson v. County of McLean, 953 F.2d 1070, 1071 (7th Cir. 1992)(holding
that it is a “fundamental premise that indigent civil litigants have no constitutional or statutory
right to be represented by counsel in federal court.”). In determining whether the Court should
attempt to find an attorney to voluntarily take a case, “the question is whether the difficulty of
the case—factually and legally—exceeds the particular plaintiff’s capacity as a layperson to
coherently present it to the judge or jury himself . . . . The question is whether the plaintiff
appears competent to litigate his own claims, given their degree of difficulty, and this includes
the tasks that normally attend litigation: evidence gathering, preparing and responding to motions
and other court filings, and trial.” Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655 (emphasis in original).
Lorenzo appears capable of reading and writing English. Lorenzo has filed cogent
pleadings with the Court and, and he has filed a response to Defendants’ motion for summary
judgment. As explained infra, Defendants are entitled to the summary judgment that they seek,
and had Lorenzo been represented by counsel, this outcome would not have been affected.
Accordingly, Lorenzo’s renewed motion for appointment of counsel is denied.
DEFENDANTS ARE ENTITLED TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The gist of Lorenzo’s claim against Defendants is that Defendants violated his Due
Process rights by placing him into administrative detention from December 2013 until April
2014 without first affording him the opportunity to have a hearing with live testimony prior to
his placement in administrative detention.
Moreover, Lorenzo contends that administrative
detention was an atypical and significant hardship that amounted to a deprivation of his liberty
interest that is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Court need not consider, however, whether the conditions of Lorenzo’s confinement
in administrative detention were so atypical or significant so as to have violated his Due Process
rights because the law is clear that inmates—such as Lorenzo—have no liberty interest in
avoiding a transfer to discretionary segregation imposed for administrative, protective, or
investigative purposes. Townsend v. Fuch, 552 F.3d 765, 771 (7th Cir. 2008). In other words,
Lorenzo’s placement in administrative detention or administrative segregation did not implicate
a protected liberty interest, and therefore, Defendants did not violate Lorenzo’s Constitutional
rights in such a manner so as to support his claim under § 1983.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has recently made this point
clear. In Smith v. Akpore, 2017 WL 2367378 (7th Cir. May 31, 2017), the plaintiff—like
Lorenzo in this case—claimed a violation of his constitutional rights when the defendants place
him into segregation 3 without affording him his Due Process rights. Id. at * 1.
In rejecting Smith’s arguments on appeal and in affirming the District Court’s summary
judgment order against Smith, the Seventh Circuit began its analysis by noting that “[n]o process
was required, however, unless Smith had a protected liberty interest in remaining in the general
Lorenzo was placed into administrative detention while the plaintiff in Smith was placed into
detention for investigative purposes. Id. at * 1.
population.” Id. at * 2. In fact, “[p]risoners generally do not have a liberty interest in avoiding
brief periods of segregation, whether administrative or disciplinary.” Id.
Thereafter, the Seventh Circuit opined:
Smith’s 30 days in investigative segregation and approximately 3 months in
disciplinary segregation were not long enough to raise a concern under the Due
Process Clause. See Townsend v. Fuch, 522 F.3d 765, 766, 771-72 (7th Cir. 2008)
(no liberty interest implicated in 59 days’ administrative segregation); Lekas, 405
F.3d at 604-05, 612 (90 days’ segregation at Stateville did not trigger liberty
interest); Thomas v. Ramos, 130 F.3d 754, 761-62 (7th Cir. 1997)(no liberty
interest in 70 days’ combined administrative and disciplinary segregation). And
since Smith did not have a right to procedural due process before being moved to
segregation, he could not have suffered a constitutional deprivation when the
Adjustment Committee chairperson did not summon his requested witnesses. Cf.
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 558, 564-66, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935
Lorenzo’s arguments fail for the same reasons. Lorenzo was only in administrative
segregation for approximately 100 days—a short enough duration so as not to trigger a liberty
interest. Lekas v. Briley, 405 F.3d 602, 612 (7th Cir. 2005)(holding that 90 days in segregation at
Stateville did not give rise to liberty interest); Tillman v. Atchison, 2016 WL 3753512, * 6 (S.D.
Ill. July 13, 2016)(69 days not sufficient to implicate liberty interest). This finding is especially
cogent given the fact that Lorenzo is serving a life sentence, and so, his placement in disciplinary
segregation and in administrative detention did not affect his sentence whatsoever. Townsend,
522 F.3d at 772 (finding that an inmate had no liberty interest in avoiding discretionary
segregation placement where the inmate’s placement was not indefinite and did not affect his
Lorenzo’s placement in administrative detention was not indefinite as
evidenced by the fact that members of the administrative detention review committee reviewed
Lorenzo’s detention status and moved him from Phase I (a more restrictive phase) to Phase II
approximately ninety days after being moved to administrative detention.
Because he had no right to procedural due process before being placed in administrative
detention, Defendants did not violate his Fourteenth Amendment rights by not providing him
with a hearing and with the right to call witnesses at that hearing before placing him for a short
duration into administrative detention. Accordingly, Defendants are entitled to the summary
judgment that they seek.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED:
Defendants’ motion for leave to file amended affidavit  is GRANTED,
and the amended affidavit from Major Chad Brown that is attached to Defendants’ motion
for leave to file is considered to be a part of the summary judgment record.
Plaintiff’s motion to strike  is DENIED.
Plaintiff’s motion under Rule 56(d) , motion to compel , and motion
to re-open discovery  are DENIED.
Plaintiff’s renewed motion for the appointment of counsel  is DENIED.
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment  is GRANTED. The Clerk of
the Court is directed to enter judgment in Defendants’ favor and against Plaintiff. All
other pending motions are denied as moot, and this case is terminated, with the Parties to
bear their own costs. All deadlines and settings on the Court’s calendar are vacated.
If Plaintiff wishes to appeal this judgment, he must file a notice of appeal
with this Court within 30 days of the entry of judgment. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4).
If Plaintiff wishes to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, his motion for
leave to appeal in forma pauperis must identify the issues that he will present on appeal to
assist the Court in determining whether the appeal is taken in good faith. Fed. R. App. P.
24(a)(1)(c); Celske v. Edwards, 164 F.3d 396, 398 (7th Cir. 1999)(an appellant should be
given an opportunity to submit a statement of his grounds for appealing so that the district
judge “can make a responsible assessment of the issue of good faith.”); Walker v. O’Brien,
216 F.3d 626, 632 (7th Cir. 2000)(providing that a good faith appeal is an appeal that “a
reasonable person could suppose . . . has some merit” from a legal perspective). If Plaintiff
chooses to appeal, he will be liable for the $505.00 appellate filing fee regardless of the
outcome of the appeal.
ENTERED this 27th day of July, 2017
s/ Sara L. Darrow
SARA L. DARROW
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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