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Giampaolo v. Shaw

August 25, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge


This cause is before the court for merit review of the plaintiff's complaint. The court is required by 28 U.S.C. §1915A to "screen" the plaintiff's complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it "(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. §1915A The plaintiff brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against 11 defendants at the Hill Correctional Center including Warden Frank Shaw, Health Care Administrator Lois Mathes, Dr. Ravanam, Law Librarian Leonard Palmer, Paralegal Mark Spencer, Grievance Officer Robert Schisler, Nurse Rita Last Name Unknown (Herein LNU), Clothing Room Manager Gil Lewis and Correctional Officers Anderson, Dickerson and Colinson. The plaintiff's complaint lists six different allegations.


The plaintiff says for more than three months he was denied prescription medications causing him to suffer severe ulcer pain, intestinal pain, migraines and back pain. The plaintiff says the medications had been continuously renewed since 2001 by various Illinois Department of Corrections Doctors. However, the plaintiff says Defendant Nurse Rita LNU ignored the plaintiff's claims and continued to tell him he had to put in a sick call request. Defendant Rita LNU also refused the plaintiff over-the-counter medications that would have eased his pain. The plaintiff says Dr. Ravanam and Health Care Administrator Lois Mathes also refused to schedule an appointment for the plaintiff or see him despite numerous sick call requests.

The plaintiff alleges that Mathes is responsible for his claims because she was the supervisor of the medical unit. The mere fact that Mathes has a supervisory position is insufficient to establish liability because the doctrine of respondeat superior (supervisor liability) does not apply to actions filed under 42 USC §1983. Pacelli v. DeVito, 972 F.2d 871, 877 (7th Cir. 1992). A supervisor cannot be held liable for the errors of her subordinates. However, the plaintiff has also alleged that Mathes was responsible for scheduling appointments in the health care unit and did not schedule him despite numerous requests. Therefore, the plaintiff has adequately alleged that Mathes has personal knowledge of his allegations. The court finds that the plaintiff has adequately alleged that Defendants Nurse Rita LNU, Dr. Ravanam and Lois Mathes violated his Eighth Amendment rights.


The plaintiff next claims that the Defendants Mark Spencer , Leonard Palmer and Robert Schisler violated his right to meaningful access to the courts by failing to provide him adequate time in the law library. An inmate alleging denial of access to the courts lacks even the standing to assert such a claim in the absence of actual injury, which means an adverse decision in, or inability to litigate, some concrete legal claim. Lewis v. Casey, 518 US. 343, 116 S.Ct. 2174, 2180 (1996). The plaintiff mentions several delays in lawsuits due to the lack of law library time, but this is not an "actual injury." Id. However, the plaintiff does state that he was unable to file an appeal in one of his criminal cases. This is adequate to allege a violation of his First Amendment right of meaningful access to the courts.


The plaintiff says he has failed to receive proper clothing while at Hill Correctional Center. The plaintiff says Defendant Gil Lewis has denied the plaintiff "proper coats, winter gloves, scarves, winter boots, thermal tops, thermal bottoms or raincoats" despite the frigid winter temperatures. (Comp, p.7). The plaintiff says he suffered from a variety of health problems as a result. The plaintiff has adequately alleged that Defendant Lewis violated his Eighth Amendment rights when he was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's health and safety.


The plaintiff alleges that Defendant Collinson violated his constitutional rights when he took several books from the plaintiff and told the plaintiff the items were contraband because they were on the disapproved list. The plaintiff says the items were not on the list and the plaintiff had no legitimate reason to take these items. The plaintiff says the actions of the defendants violated his First and Fourth amendment rights.

The plaintiff has not stated a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Prisons may screen incoming publications, Thornburgh v Abott, 490 U.S. 401, 412-419 (1989), and prisoners have no expectation of privacy with respect to their property under the Fourth Amendment. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526 (1984). However, the plaintiff has stated a violation of his First Amendment rights based on the censorship of the incoming publications.


The plaintiff also claims that Defendants Anderson, Dickerson and Schisler improperly took some of his property at Hill Correctional Center. The plaintiff says on August 2, 2005, he was sent to segregation and then allowed back into the general population the next day. The plaintiff says Officers Anderson and Dickerson searched his property and did not allow him to observe the search. He was then forced to sign an inventory sheet. When he looked through his property, the plaintiff found several items missing including a toothbrush, extension cord, a rain coat, folders, ...

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