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Vinson v. Faust


January 29, 2007


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


Plaintiff, currently an inmate in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is legally frivolous and thus subject to summary dismissal.

Plaintiff states that while he was in the work camp affiliated with Tamms Correctional Center, he injured himself playing basketball and was given a two-week lay-in order to recover. During that time, he was given a job assignment working in the commissary, rather than his regular job within the maximum-security part of Tamms. During that two-week period, Plaintiff was abruptly fired from his commissary job by Defendant Faust. When Plaintiff demanded an explanation, Faust told him that he believed Plaintiff was faking his injury in order to avoid working in the maximum-security prison. Following this conversation, Plaintiff received a disciplinary ticket from Faust which charged Plaintiff with making threats against Faust. Plaintiff was found guilty, but he provides no information regarding what punishment was imposed as the result of this incident.

When a plaintiff brings an action under § 1983 for procedural due process violations, he must show that the state deprived him of a constitutionally protected interest in "life, liberty, or property" without due process of law. Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 125 (1990). An inmate has a due process liberty interest in being in the general prison population only if the conditions of his or her confinement impose "atypical and significant relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). In the Seventh Circuit, a prisoner in disciplinary segregation at a state prison has a liberty interest in remaining in the general prison population only if the conditions under which he or she is confined are substantially more restrictive than administrative segregation at the most secure prison in that state. In the view of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, after Sandin "the right to litigate disciplinary confinements has become vanishingly small." Wagner v. Hanks, 128 F.3d 1173, 1175 (7th Cir. 1997). Indeed, "when the entire sanction is confinement in disciplinary segregation for a period that does not exceed the remaining term of the prisoner's incarceration, it is difficult to see how after Sandin it can be made the basis of a suit complaining about a deprivation of liberty." Id.

In this case, Plaintiff makes no allegation that he was deprived of any protected liberty interest. Accordingly, his due process claim is dismissed from this action with prejudice.

Plaintiff also claims that Faust manufactured these charges against him "to retaliate" against Plaintiff for getting another job assignment. Prison officials may not retaliate against inmates for filing grievances or otherwise complaining about their conditions of confinement. See, e.g., Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005 (7th Cir. 2002); Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 573 (7th Cir. 2000); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607 (7th Cir. 2000) ("a prison official may not retaliate against a prisoner because that prisoner filed a grievance"); Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d 267 (7th Cir. 1996) (retaliatory transfer); Higgason v. Farley, 83 F.3d 807, 810 (7th Cir. 1996) (retaliation for filing lawsuit).

In this case, Plaintiff does not allege retaliation due to making any complaints, filing a grievance, or filing a lawsuit over the conditions of his confinement. Instead, he claims retaliation over receiving a new job assignment, a decision that presumably was out of his control. Further, Plaintiff has no protected liberty interest in his job assignment. See DeWalt, 224 F.3d at 613. Therefore, his retaliation claim is also without merit.

In summary, Plaintiff's complaint does not survive review under § 1915A. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED with prejudice. Plaintiff is advised that the dismissal of this action will count as one of his three allotted "strikes" under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).




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