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WOODALL v. PARTILLA
February 29, 1984
WALTER WOODALL, PLAINTIFF,
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.
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
I. Initiation of the Disciplinary Process
Woodall argues that Partilla is an employee of Servomation
and not an employee of the IDOC or Joliet Correctional Center.
According to Woodall, neither Partilla nor Servomation has the
authority to act under color of state law and make charges
against or impose discipline on any inmate through direct use
of the IDOC disciplinary
process. He cites IDOC Administrative Regulation ("AR") 804 as
support for his position. AR 804 concerns the administration
of discipline of inmates in the adult division of the IDOC. It
indicates rule infractions for which inmates can be
disciplined and the extent of that discipline. AR 804
provides: "Every employee, regardless of assignment, has the
duty to observe the conduct of inmates. If an employee either
observes an inmate commit an offense, discovers evidence of its
commission, or receives information from a reliable witness of
such conduct, he shall prepare an inmate disciplinary report."
(Emphasis added). Thus, in Woodall's view, Partilla and
Servomation could only report an incident to an employee. That
employee could then write an RDR. Furthermore, says Woodall,
IDOC staff could not confer upon Servomation, any of its
employees or any other civilian individual the authority to act
under color of state law and cause the imposition of punishment
upon an inmate in a direct manner as was done in this case.
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
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.
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
§ 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 ...