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McDonald v. Payne

July 27, 2009

MAURICE J. MCDONALD PLAINTIFF,
v.
TONY PAYNE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Maurice McDonald, an inmate at the Menard 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). 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).

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide McDonald's pro se action into eight counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1

McDonald alleges that on September 30, 2008, Defendant Payne issued him a false disciplinary ticket resulting in one month C-grade, one month segregation, and one month commissary restriction. McDonald additionally alleges that on November 17, 2008, Defendant Groves issued him a false disciplinary ticket resulting in three months C-grade, three months segregation, and three months commissary restriction. McDonald alleges that Defendant Groves's ticket was part of a conspiracy to cover-up Defendant Payne's ticket.

Civil conspiracy claims are cognizable under § 1983. See Lewis v. Washington, 300 F.3d 829, 831 (7th Cir. 2002) (recognizing conspiracy claim under section 1983). "[I]t is enough in pleading a conspiracy to indicate the parties, general purpose, and approximate date." Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1007-08 (7th Cir. 2002). See also Hoskins v. Poelstra, 320 F.3d 761, 764 (7th Cir. 2003); Tierney v. Vahle, 304 F.3d 734, 740 (7th Cir. 2002). However, conspiracy is not an independent basis of liability in § 1983 actions. See Smith v. Gomez, 550 F.3d 613, 617 (7th Cir. 2008); Cefalu v. Vill. of Elk Grove, 211 F.3d 416, 423 (7th Cir. 2000). "For liability under § 1983 to attach to a conspiracy claim, defendants must conspire to deny plaintiffs their constitutional rights." Hill v. Shobe, 93 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 1996).

McDonald does not have a constitutional right to not have false reports filed against him. See Hanrahan v. Lane, 747 F.2d 1137, 1139-40 (7th Cir. 1984); Freeman v. Rideout, 808 F.2d 949, 951 (2nd Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 982 (1988). Therefore, his civil conspiracy claim for conspiring to write a false disciplinary report is without merit, and this claim against Payne and Groves is dismissed with prejudice.

COUNT 2

McDonald alleges that Defendant Payne refused to honor medical permits, specifically low bunk and low gallery permits. As a result of this refusal, McDonald became upset and demanded the medical permit be honored. Payne allegedly refused and subsequently issued McDonald a disciplinary ticket. After the incident, McDonald was moved into a two-man cell with whom McDonald claims was a psychiatric patient. McDonald alleges this fellow inmate was violent and dangerous, and given McDonald's known blood clot condition and medical permits, he claims that the institution ...


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