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Carter v. Walker

January 31, 2008

KEVEN CARTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROGER A. WALKER, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's "Amended Complaint" (Doc. 12), which the Court liberally construes as a motion to reopen the case and amend the complaint as provided in Local Rule of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois 15.1.*fn1

BACKGROUND

On December 4, 2007, the Court preliminarily reviewed Plaintiff's original complaint and dismissed the action without prejudice. The Court noted that Plaintiff's first § 1983 claim -- which alleged a denial of due process in connection with a disciplinary proceeding wherein Plaintiff lost good conduct credits -- could not proceed unless and until Plaintiff had the disciplinary action overturned by means of an appropriate state proceeding. See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 647 (1997); Lusz v. Scott, 126 F.3d 1018, 1021-22 (7th Cir. 1997). The Court dismissed Plaintiff's second § 1983 claim -- which alleged that Plaintiff had been attacked by another inmate and that Plaintiff had been denied medical care for the injuries he sustained -- on the basis of George v. Smith, ___ F.3d ___, No. 05-C-0403-C, 2007 WL 3307028 (7th Cir., Nov. 9, 2007), after determining that the claim improperly joined claims and parties. Because the Court did not rule on the merits of Plaintiff's claims, the action was dismissed without prejudice, and no judgment was entered.

In response, Plaintiff filed the instant "Amended Complaint," which the Court construes as a motion to reopen the case and amend his complaint. Because Defendants had not even been served with the original complaint, the motion is GRANTED. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to REOPEN THIS CASE and TO FILE the amended complaint.

THE AMENDED COMPLAINT

In his amended complaint, Plaintiff seeks relief against only four defendants: C.O. Serles, Lieutenant Harold Shuler, R. Hilliard, and Roy Bradford. Thus, the amended complaint drops from the original complaint the following defendants: Illinois Department of Corrections; Roger E. Walker, Jr.; Sgt. Abbott; Lieutenant Brown, and Lieutenant Schuler. Accordingly, the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED TO DOCKET THIS CASE as follows: Keven Carter v. C.O. Serles, Lieutenant Harold Shuler, Roy Bradford, and R. Hilliard.

As he did in the original complaint, Plaintiff claims in the amended complaint that, while confined at the Big Muddy Correction Center, Defendant Serles hit him in the mouth. Plaintiff states that he filed a grievance concerning the matter. Defendant Shuler investigated Plaintiff's complaint concerning Serles's attack. As a result of Shuler's investigation, Plaintiff was given a disciplinary ticket for "giving false information" (i.e., falsely claiming that Serles had hit him). Plaintiff contends that the disciplinary ticket was given to him in retaliation for filing the grievance against Serles. After a hearing, Plaintiff was found guilty of the disciplinary ticket and received the following discipline: (1) segregation for three months; (2) "Grade C" for three months; (3) loss of three months of good time credit; (4) loss of yard time for one month; and (5) recommendation for disciplinary transfer. Plaintiff alleges that he was denied the opportunity to present a defense to this charge -- specifically he was refused the opportunity to take a polygraph test and cross-examine Serles -- and that the disciplinary hearing was biased against him. The disciplinary action was upheld by Defendant Bradford upon his later review. Plaintiff claims that Bradford upheld the disciplinary action in retaliation for filing the complaint against Serles.

Shortly after the disciplinary hearing, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Serles confronted and verbally assailed him. Plaintiff claims that this verbal confrontation was also in retaliation for filing the complaint against Serles. Finally, Plaintiff contends that Defendant Hilliard failed to conduct an independent investigation into the disciplinary action and related matters after promising to do so. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hilliard's failure to investigate was also in retaliation for having filed a complaint against Serles. Liberally construing the complaint, it appears that Plaintiff asserts an excessive use of force claim against Defendant Serles and retaliation claims against Defendants Serles, Shuler, Bradford and Hilliard.*fn2

DISCUSSION

The amended complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Title 28 U.S.C. § 1915A 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 ...


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