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Banks v. City of Chicago


September 21, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge


Michael Banks ("Banks"), who is serving time at Menard Correctional Center for the 2001 killing of one Neal Washington, has just filed a self-prepared 42 U.S.C. §1983 ("Section 1983") Complaint. Banks seeks (1) what appears to add up to something over $240 million in damages against various defendants whom he blames for his present plight, as well as (2) an order for his immediate release. This Court has conducted the initial screening called for by 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a),*fn1 and this memorandum opinion and order dispatches Banks' lawsuit.

After first identifying his seven targeted defendants and providing information as to five earlier lawsuits that he has brought in this District Court (91 C 3410, 02 C 4269, 02 C 4271, 02 C 5450 and 04 C 7205), Banks sets out a closely written and highly repetitive narrative occupying more than 17 pages that detail his asserted grievances. In a way it would be unnecessary to treat with the substance of what he asserts because the dismissals of his earlier efforts by various of this Court's colleagues represent three "strikes" under Section 1915(g), thus requiring his prepayment of the full $350 filing fee, which Banks' documentation shows he cannot possibly manage.*fn2

Section 1915(g) does contain an exception where a prisoner "is under imminent danger of serious physical injury." Banks appears to have done enough homework to spot that provision, for he has contemporaneously tendered a handwritten "Application To Proceed Pursuant to 28 USC, Section 1915(g)" ("Application"), and his sixth prayer for relief (found on the second last page of his narrative) says that "Defendants conduct was intentional inflicted which caused a mental and emotional distress of imminent danger of physical injury to Mr. Banks well-being"--an asserted wrong for which he asks a modest award of $100 million. But the Application advances nothing beyond that conclusory ipse dixit, and nothing in his extraordinarily detailed set of grievances even hints at a risk of "serious physical injury"--in short, Banks' attempted Section 1915(g) assertion is plainly frivolous and is a poster child for being discredited under the Supreme Court's recent teaching in the Twombly and Iqual cases.

What has been said to this point might end the discussion by simply denying Banks leave to proceed without paying the entire $350 filing fee up front. But that would only postpone the inevitable, because Banks' Complaint is substantively dismissible under Section 1915A(b)(1) as "frivolous, malicious, or fail[ing] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Only a little added discussion is necessary on that subject.

All of Banks' charges go back to 2001, the time of Banks' arrest and initial detention, or to 2004 or at the latest to January 2006, when Banks went on trial and was convicted. All of those claims are of course thus outlawed by the two-year statute of limitations that applies to Illinois-based Section 1983 claims, and it will not do--as Banks attempts in a couple of places at the end of his narrative--to treat claims against persons whose actions took place outside of the limitations period as somehow kept alive because Banks' current incarceration is assertedly an effect that might be traced back to that earlier conduct.

In sum, Section 1915A(b)(1) applies to this action with full force. It is dismissed with prejudice.*fn3

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