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Sowemimo v. Bader

February 10, 2009


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


Plaintiff, an inmate at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 Specifically, Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief for alleged retaliation and denial of his religious 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).

Before turning to the allegations of the complaint, however, the Court notes that Plaintiff has not named all the persons against whom he seeks relief as defendants in the caption of his complaint as required by Rule 10(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In reviewing the complaint, the Court has identified the following additional defendants: Randy Stevenson, Pamela Moran, Janis Jokisch, Sherry Benton and Roger E. Walker, Jr. Accordingly, the Clerk will be directed to add these persons as defendants in the Court's docket.


Although this action concerns matters that occurred while Plaintiff was confined at Lawrence Correctional Center (Lawrence), the seeds of the bulk of Plaintiff's claims lay in events that occurred before June 2007 when Plaintiff was transferred to Lawrence. Before being transferred to Lawrence, Plaintiff was confined at Hill Correctional Center (Hill) and Menard Correctional Center (Menard). In March 2001, while confined at Menard, Plaintiff was issued a conduct violation for "giving false information to an employee." Plaintiff was given this conduct violation because he allegedly refused to take a polygraph test. It appears that Plaintiff was going to be given a polygraph test in connection with his claim that he needed to be placed on "Protective Custody" status due to asserted "enemy issues." Because Plaintiff refused to take the polygraph test - after, apparently, agreeing to take it - it appears prison officials considered Plaintiff's claim that he had "enemy issues" to be false. This false information (i.e., that plaintiff had "enemy issues) apparently formed the basis for the conduct violation.

Plaintiff was found guilty of the conduct violation and received the following disciplinary sanctions: demotion to C grade (2 months); segregation (2 months); revoke GCC or SGT (2 months); loss of commissary (2 months); and pay $77.59 in restitution to Menard. The sanctions were upheld during the administrative review process.

In September 2001, Leora Harry, Administrative Review Board Chairperson, reviewed as grievance that Plaintiff had been denied "Protective Custody" status. Ms. Harry determined that Plaintiff had provided "sufficient verifiable information" to warrant Protective Custody. Plaintiff asserts that the conduct violation for giving false information concerning his enemies was expunged.*fn2 Consequently, Plaintiff contends that he does not owe Menard $77.59 in restitution.

Nevertheless, funds are still being deducted from Plaintiff's inmate account for the repayment of this debt. In addition to the restitution charge, Plaintiff's inmate account is currenlty being debited for three other charges that Plaintiff disputes. Most significantly, the account is being charged $357.02 for library and postage charges Plaintiff allegedly incurred while confined at Hill and Menard. Plaintiff does not allege that this debt is not owed to Hill and Menard. Rather, Plaintiff claims that this debt laid "dormant" for several years and only became "activated" in January 2008, after he asked officials at Lawrence for a transfer to another institution. Plaintiff's request for a transfer from Lawrence was denied by Defendants Bader and Stevenson who claimed that Plaintiff could not be transferred until he had spent one year at Lawrence.

Plaintiff's inmate account is also currently being debited $12.30 and $0.40 for library charges. Plaintiff's inmate account statement indicates that these charges were incurred on July 23, 2007. Plaintiff, however, contends that he did not use the library facilities at Lawrence on that date and, therefore, contends the charges are fraudulent.*fn3

Plaintiff filed an administrative grievance, No. 03-08-075, concerning these charges against his inmate account. An investigation by Defendants Mack and Rohr found the charges proper and, therefore, Plaintiff's grievance was denied by Defendant Moran. On appeal, Defendant Benton affirmed Moran's decision.

Liberally construing the complaint and attached exhibits, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Mack, Rohr, Moran, and Stevenson*fn4 are "falsifying" his inmate account records and levying these "fraudulent" charges against his account "in retaliation." Plaintiff further charges that Defendant Benton retaliated against him by denying his grievance and failing to properly investigate his fraud claims. Additionally, Plaintiff contends that his account is being kept "in the negative" in retaliation for his prior litigation. That is, he owes more to the State than he has funds in his account. Accordingly, Plaintiff's inmate account is "restricted" and he is unable to buy items from the prison commissary.

On May 20, 2007, while confined at Hill, Plaintiff's cell was searched and two items were seized as contraband: (1) a certificate of deposit and (2) a prayer rug. Plaintiff filed grievances concerning the seizure of these items and, after administrative review, it was determined that Plaintiff's certificate of deposit would be returned to him, but that his prayer rug would not. On October 23, 2007, Sherry Benton, acting for the Administrative Review Board, directed that the certificate of deposit be forwarded to Plaintiff at Lawrence. Ms. Benton also directed that the rug be sent from the Hill Property Unit to the Lawrence Property Unit and that Plaintiff be allowed to dispose of it in accordance with prison regulations. Plaintiff contends that the certificate of deposit has not been returned to him

Plaintiff states that he spoke to Defendant Gatz in January 2008, about being assigned a job at Lawrence. Plaintiff states that Gatz told him: "Don't expect me to give you a job after all you did the problems you gave us at Menard Prison in '97, I was the captain second in command behind Supretendent [sic] Brady in the East cell house in 1997 in Menard prison, you full of shit, and you not getten [sic] back your certificate of deposit, so you can go ahead file a law suit." Plaintiff goes on to state that Brady was a defendant in Sowemimo v. Hennrich, No. 98-cv-387-GBC Plaintiff contends that Brady's response "showed retaliat[ion]" against him.

Plaintiff states that he spoke to Defendant Boyd in February 2008, about the charges against his inmate account, the lack of a job assignment, and being housed in a cell block with "gang members that are allied with [his enemies]." Plaintiff states that Boyd told him: "You are a problem, you need to go back to Afrika, [sic] send me a request note and I will get back with you." Plaintiff claims that Defendant Boyd never responded to his issues and, therefore, she showed "prejudice, deliberate indifference and reckless disregard" for them.

Plaintiff states that he spoke to Defendant Bader on February 28, 2008, about the charges against his inmate account. Plaintiff states that Bader told him: "You are having all this [sic] problems now cause you keep suing the officials and staff of Illinois Department of Corrections, you need to stop filing civil suits on us so we can stop targeting you, I cannot do anything concerning this. This is above me. If I do anything to correct it I will lose my job, you cannot win litigating against the ...

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