United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Judge
Dacia Nakema Ward, an inmate at Westville Correctional
Facility, an Indiana state prison, filed this civil action.
The defendants are Jack Tanner and Vigo County.
alleges that he sought and was granted approval by a state
court judge to participate in a drug treatment program called
Jail Linkage. Ward completed phase one, a six-week program,
which is held in the Vigo County jail. However, Ward was
denied the opportunity to participate in phase two of the
program. Ward alleges that he was denied the opportunity to
go to a sober living halfway house called
“Freebirds” and complete phase two of the program
because he is a sex offender. He asserts that this decision
was made by Jack Tanner consistent with Vigo County's
policies in violation of Ward's right to equal
screening Entry issued July 18, 2016, held that these
allegations were sufficient to raise an equal protection
claim under the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Dkt. No. 6. Section 1983 provides:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State ... subjects, or
causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States ...
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress ....
42 U.S.C. § 1983. “Equal protection of the laws
means that all persons similarly situated should be treated
alike.” United States v. Brucker, 646 F.3d
1012, 1016-17 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal citation omitted).
defendants deny any wrongdoing. Now before the Court is the
motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Jack Tanner.
For the reasons explained below, the motion for summary
judgment is granted and both defendants are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Malak v.
Associated Physicians, Inc., 784 F.2d 277, 280 (7th Cir.
1986) (“[W]here one defendant files a motion for
summary judgment which the court grants, the district court
may sua sponte enter summary judgment in favor of
additional non-moving defendants if the motion raised by the
first defendant is equally effective in barring the claim
against the other defendants and the plaintiff had an
adequate opportunity to argue in opposition to the
Standard of Review
judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A “material fact”
is one that “might affect the outcome of the
suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “The applicable substantive law
will dictate which facts are material.” National
Soffit & Escutcheons, Inc., v. Superior Systems,
Inc., 98 F.3d 262, 265 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).
party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “[T]he burden
on the moving party may be discharged by
‘showing'--that is, pointing out to the district
court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” Id. at 325. The
Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and all reasonable inferences are drawn in
the non-movant's favor. Ault v. Speicher, 634
F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011).
case, Tanner has met that burden through his unopposed motion
for summary judgment. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680,
683 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[F]ailure to respond by the
nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an
admission.”). By not responding to the motion for
summary judgment, Ward has conceded to Tanner's version
of the facts. Brasic v. Heinemann's Inc., 121
F.3d 281, 286 (7th Cir. 1997). This is the result of Local
Rule 56-1(h), of which Ward was notified. This does not alter
the standard for assessing a Rule 56 motion, but does
“reduc[e] the pool” from which the facts and
inferences relative to such a motion may be drawn. Smith
v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).
was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession
of paraphernalia in Vigo Superior Court on February 23, 2015,
and the court referred Ward for an evaluation at a sober
living facility shortly thereafter on March 4, 2015.
Solution Center (“Freebirds”) is a faith based
sober living facility in Terre Haute, Indiana. Jack Tanner,
the Director of Operations of Freebirds, evaluated Ward for
placement at the facility. Tanner performed a background