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Dobbey v. Illinois Dep't of Corrections

June 11, 2008


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


Plaintiff, an inmate in the Stateville Correctional Center (SCC), brings this action for violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In this action, Plaintiff seeks damages, declaratory, and injunctive relief for an alleged incident of racial harassment at Menard Correctional Center (MCC), an alleged retaliatory disciplinary action, and an alleged denial of due process in connection with his grievances. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint 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 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). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 ( 2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.


Plaintiff asserts that while he was confined at MCC he was assigned to work as a janitor. Plaintiff alleges that while he was performing his job duties on January 24, 2007, he observed Defendant Mefflin hang a noose in the middle of the "officer's cage/main control room." Plaintiff contends that Defendant Mefflin did not say anything to anyone, but he swatted the noose so that it swung back and forth. Plaintiff also states that Defendant Mefflin sat in a chair and "crossed his arms looking crazy with evil in his eyes." Plaintiff further alleges that 20 minutes later, Defendant Mefflin took the noose down. Plaintiff claims that the entire incident was witnessed by Defendants Doughty, Thies, Evers, and "C/O John Doe," who were playing cards in the room. Plaintiff claims that these actions violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

Plaintiff filed both an "emergency grievance" and a "secondary grievance" concerning Mefflin's actions. Plaintiff also wrote letters to various prison officials and others concerning the incident. In his grievances, Plaintiff expressed concern that Mefflin may "go Postal" and kill someone. He was also insulted that Mefflin's actions came so close to Black History month. Plaintiff requested protection from possible unspecified future retaliation for bringing the matter to the attention of prison officials. Specifically, Plaintiff requested transfer to SCC or Logan Correctional Center (LCC). Plaintiff was interviewed about his grievances by Defendants John Does 1 and 2 -- identified as internal affairs officers. These officers reported that a search of the "officer's cage/main control room" did yield a noose. Plaintiff contends, however, that he never received a satisfactory response to his grievances and that he was informed only that issues of staff discipline were not discussed with inmates. Furthermore, with regard to the "secondary grievance," it appears that the paper work was lost or misplaced by Defendant Ryan. Plaintiff contends that the "secondary grievance" was lost on purpose as a means of covering up Mefflin's actions. Plaintiff claims that these actions violated his right to due process of law.

On February 20, 2007, Plaintiff was issued a disciplinary report by Defendant Huff, who was overseeing Plaintiff's work detail, for disobeying a direct order. Plaintiff claims that the disciplinary report is false and was issued by Defendant Huff in retaliation for Plaintiff filing grievances against Mefflin concerning the noose. Despite maintaining his innocence, a disciplinary committee found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct. Plaintiff received the following discipline: (1) one month "C-grade"; (2) one month commissary restriction; and (3) assignment change.


A. Racial ...

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