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Brown v. Walker

July 18, 2008

JAMES BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROGER E. WALKER, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate at the Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks damages for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. 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). 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).

THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff is a self-styled "advocate and champion for reform of the Illinois Department of Corrections." Plaintiff has attached several exhibits to his complaint indicating that, over a period of years, he has informed corrections officials of various problems he believes exists within the prison system - including general problems with illegal drugs and weapons. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants have retaliated against him by: (1) allowing another inmate to attack him on November 6, 2005; (2) disregarding sexual threats and sexual harassment from another inmate in February 2006; (3) transferring him to a more secure institution; and (4) issuing him a conduct violation and finding him guilty of the same. In addition to his retaliation claim, Plaintiff asserts that the above actions - especially the November inmate attack and the February sexual threats - violated his Eighth Amendment right to be reasonably protected from assaults by other inmates .

DISCUSSION

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); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607 (7th Cir. 2000); Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d 267 (7th Cir. 1996); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139 (7th Cir. 1988).Furthermore, "[a]ll that need be specified is the bare minimum facts necessary to put the defendant on notice of the claim so that he can file an answer." Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002). Naming the suit and the act of retaliation is all that is necessary to state a claim of improper retaliation. Id.

The Court notes that the Seventh Circuit has clarified that in order to qualify as protected speech, an inmate's complaints or grievances must be "related to matters of public concern" rather than merely a "personal gripe" about a particular incident. Pearson v. Welborn, 471 F.3d 732, 740- 41 (7th Cir. 2006). See also McElroy v. Lopac, 403 F.3d 855 (7th Cir. 2005); Brookins v. Kolb, 990 F.2d 308 (7th Cir. 1993). In his complaint, Plaintiff seems to refer to several different grievances. Some of these grievances are mere "personal gripes" while others appear to be of "public concern." At this point in the case, though, the Court is not prepared to say that the complaint fails to allege a claim upon which relief may be granted.

In summary, this case survives review under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1914A. The Court notes that due to a typographical error, Defendant Garnett has been wrongly docketed as "Jason C. Barnett." The Clerk of Court will be ...


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