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WOODALL v. PARTILLA

February 29, 1984

WALTER WOODALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAWN PARTILLA, INDIVIDUALLY, SERVOMATION, INC., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A CORPORATION, CAPTAIN J. TIBBITTS, LIEUTENANT W.B. HAMPTON, L. GREEN, R. MATUSZEUSKI AND J.W. FAIRMAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aspen, District Judge:

    MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Walter Woodall, formerly an inmate at Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, brings this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violation of his constitutional rights and state and federal law. Woodall seeks injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief. Five defendants ("Joliet defendants") are staff at Joliet Correctional Center.*fn1 Also named as defendants are Servomation, Inc., a private corporation which provides food service at Joliet Correctional Center, and Dawn Partilla, an employee of Servomation. Before the Court are a motion to dismiss on behalf of the Joliet defendants, a motion to dismiss on behalf of Servomation, Inc. and a motion to quash service of process on behalf of Partilla.

Woodall alleges the facts as follows. Since March, 1983, Woodall had been assigned to work in the officers' kitchen/dining room at the prison. He worked an average of 16-18 hours per day and received a base pay of $30.00 per month along with a bonus of approximately $32.00 per month. Servomation, not Joliet Correctional Center, paid his wages.

On April 18, 1983, Woodall and another inmate were working in the officers' kitchen/dining room when Partilla offered them cigarettes. Woodall questioned Partilla, as he had on prior occasions, regarding the justification for Servomation paying inmate workers below the minimum hourly wage prescribed by state and federal law. Partilla became noticeably irritated by the inquiry, and Woodall dropped the discussion. Shortly thereafter, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Woodall asked Partilla for a light for a cigarette he had accepted from her earlier. She told him not to bother her. When he repeated his request, she told him to leave her alone and left the room.

Approximately an hour later, Woodall was placed in segregation. At 2:00 a.m. on April 19, 1983, he was served with a resident disciplinary report ("RDR") written by Partilla and signed as reviewed by defendant Tibbitts, shift commander. In the RDR, Partilla gave a different version of her confrontation with Woodall. Her version formed the basis for charges against Woodall of assault, sexual misconduct, intimidation and threats, insolence, disobeying a direct order and violation of rules.

On April 25, 1983, Woodall appeared before the Adjustment Committee at Joliet Correctional Center. The Committee found him guilty of all charges except insolence. The proceedings were recorded on a pre-printed form titled Adjustment Committee Summary. See Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 2. In the "Record of Proceedings" section of the summary, the Committee noted: "Resident denied report as it is written. Resident only stated he asked reporting employee for a light." In the section of the summary designated "Disposition and Basis for Decision," the Committee stated: "Resident was positively identified by employee. Resident was in area of reported infraction." The disciplinary action taken against Woodall consisted of 360 days in segregation, revocation of 360 days good time and demotion to "C" grade (maximum security) for 360 days.

Woodall alleges that the loss of 360 days good time would have extended his incarceration 150 days beyond his maximum release date. Immediately subsequent to the filing of this case, however, Michael Lane, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") ordered the revocation of 360 days good time reduced to 210 days to correspond to Woodall's maximum release date. See Plaintiff's Motion in Opposition to Certain Defendants' Motion to Dismiss at 2, n. 1.

Based upon the foregoing allegations, Woodall raises several claims. Broadly stated, he alleges that the disciplinary process was initiated against him "by a non-employee [Partilla] of the State, acting under color of law in an illegal manner." Complaint at 9. Because the disciplinary process was allegedly set in motion illegally, everything which flowed from Partilla's writing of the RDR — i.e., placing Woodall in segregation, charging him with rule infractions, conducting a hearing on the charges, finding him guilty and imposing sanctions — was also illegal. Thus, the very fact of these proceedings allegedly violated Woodall's constitutional rights. In addition, defendants allegedly deprived Woodall of various constitutional protections to which he allegedly was entitled in the course of the proceedings. Woodall cites the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments as the sources of the constitutional rights infringed. Woodall also claims that defendants violated the Constitution and state and federal laws by contracting out his labor to a corporation under contract with the IDOC, Joliet Correctional Center, and the State of Illinois, for an excessive number of working hours per day at a wage level below the minimum required by law.

For purposes of discussion, the issues thus raised may be categorized as follows: (1) initiation of the disciplinary process; (2) placement in segregation prior to Adjustment Committee hearing; (3) Adjustment Committee decision; (4) sanctions imposed upon finding Woodall guilty; (5) IDOC review of Adjustment Committee decision; (6) labor issues. We shall address Partilla's motion to quash service of process in Section I.

I. Initiation of the Disciplinary Process

In short, Woodall argues that Partilla instigated the disciplinary process without legal authority since she was not an IDOC employee and the Joliet defendants could not legally give her authority.*fn2 By using the state-enacted disciplinary process, she acted under color of state law. Consequently, she is liable for the very fact of the disciplinary proceedings and for all constitutional violations which flowed from them.

To analyze whether Woodall's allegations state a claim against Partilla cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, we must first address whether the complaint sufficiently alleges that Partilla acted under color of state law. See Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 1912-13, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981). The conduct complained of consists of Partilla, "a non-employee of the State," writing an RDR which set in motion disciplinary proceedings against Woodall. This conduct is analogous to that of a private citizen who acts as complainant in a criminal prosecution. Even though a criminal action is itself prosecuted under color of law, the act of complaining by a private citizen is not state action. Grow v. Fisher, 523 F.2d 875, 879 (7th Cir. 1975). If this principle is applied to the instant case, Partilla, who acted merely as "complainant" in the disciplinary process, did not act under color of law. Under this analysis, because state action is a jurisdictional prerequisite to a § 1983 suit, Woodall's claim against Partilla fails.

Servomation and the Joliet defendants, in their respective motions to dismiss, take a second approach to clear Partilla, and consequently themselves, of any wrongdoing in the initiation of the disciplinary action. They contend that Partilla was an employee as that term is used in AR 804, and as such, she did not wrongly institute the disciplinary procedure. It follows, then, that no cause of action is stated against Servomation for allegedly authorizing or acquiescing in Partilla's act. Similarly, under this approach, the allegations do not give rise to a claim against the Joliet defendants for authorizing Partilla's writing of the RDR or for acting upon the RDR.

But Woodall argues strenuously, citing sections of the Illinois Revised Statutes, that Partilla was not an IDOC employee. For the purpose of a third analytical approach, we accept his theory. Under the first analysis, we also viewed Partilla as a non-employee of the State. We then concluded that her conduct did not constitute the state action essential to a § 1983 suit. Even if we now, for purposes of our third approach, construe Woodall's allegations to find Partilla's initiation of the disciplinary process did constitute state action, so as to satisfy the jurisdictional prerequisite, no constitutional violation is stated.

The Adjustment Committee ordered Woodall into segregation and revoked good time. Prison disciplinary proceedings involving assignment to punitive segregation and the loss of good time implicate the deprivation of "liberty" in Fourteenth Amendment terms. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556-58, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2974-76, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). Thus, the due process clause requires that the disciplinary proceedings be subject to procedural due process protections. Id. The Supreme Court in Wolff established minimum requirements of procedural due process to be afforded to prisoners in disciplinary proceedings. The Court did not, as one of the procedural safeguards, limit the persons authorized to write disciplinary reports and initiate the disciplinary process.

Indeed, it is not even clear that defendants violated AR 804. Basing his argument on AR 804, Woodall contends that Partilla, a non-State employee, did not possess, and could not be given, the authority to write the RDR. Her instigation of the disciplinary process allegedly violated Woodall's due process rights. But we agree with the Joliet defendants that AR 804 on its face does not limit the persons empowered to write RDR's. Rather, it creates the affirmative obligation of every employee to observe and report violations. But even if defendants did not comply with AR 804, and AR 804 could be construed to provide an inmate with a procedural right to have an RDR written only by designated persons, a state procedural right by itself is not accorded federal due process protection. Shango v. Jurich, 681 F.2d 1091, 1101 (7th Cir. 1982). Only departures from procedures which are constitutionally mandated provide a basis for a constitutional claim. Watts v. Morgan, 572 F. Supp. 1385 at 1391 (N.D.Ill. 1983), appeal dismissed, No. 83-2783 (7th Cir. Nov. 21, 1983). As stated earlier, a limit on the persons authorized to write disciplinary reports and initiate the disciplinary process is not a procedural safeguard that is constitutionally mandated. Thus, defendants' alleged failure to comply with AR 804 states no constitutional claim.

Therefore, regardless of the analytical approach utilized, the claim that Partilla set the disciplinary process in motion illegally so that the very fact of the proceedings violated Woodall's constitutional rights is not cognizable under § 1983. The initiation and the fact of the proceedings pass constitutional muster. Thus, no claims are stated against Partilla for the institution or fact of the disciplinary proceedings, or for constitutional violations which allegedly ocurred in the course of the proceedings. Accordingly, Partilla is dismissed as a defendant in this action.*fn3

With respect to Servomation, the threshold inquiry, as with Partilla, is whether Servomation acted under color of state law. Clearly, if it did not, it is not amenable to suit under ยง 1983. Even assuming, however, that Servomation's conduct constituted state action, no cause of action is stated against Servomation for authorizing or acquiescing in Partilla's act. This conclusion is compelled by our finding that Partilla's conduct did not violate the Constitution. Thus, as with Partilla, no claims are stated against Servomation for the initiation or fact of the disciplinary proceedings, or ...


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