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Wallace v. Miller

February 16, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert District Judge


Plaintiff, an inmate at the Tamms Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional and statutory rights. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Before conducting this preliminary review, however, the Court will consider Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint (Doc. 9).

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure expressly grants a plaintiff the right to amend his complaint once as a matter of course before a responsive pleading is served. No responsive pleading has been served by the defendants in this case and, therefore, Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint (Doc. 9) is GRANTED. The amended complaint supersedes and replaces the original complaint. See Flannery v. Recording Indus. Assoc. Of Am., 354 F.3d 632, 638 n.1 (7th Cir. 2004). Therefore, it is the amended complaint which the Court will review for purposes of § 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, 590 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Service, 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).


Plaintiff's amended complaint has proven to be a challenge to review. The body of the amended complaint consists of 90 separately numbered , handwritten paragraphs. Each numbered paragraph of the amended complaint refers to and incorporates an exhibit or exhibits.*fn1 These exhibits, however, were not attached to the amended complaint.*fn2 In so far as the Court can tell, no exhibits were even sent by Plaintiff with the proposed amended complaint.*fn3 The Court's records indicate that exhibits (Doc. 6) were sent a couple of weeks after the original complaint was filed and months before the amended complaint was sent to the Court.

The exhibits consist of approximately 285 original documents in a variety of sizes.*fn4 Some of the exhibits are single-sided while some are double-sided. Because the exhibits were not attached to the amended complaint, the exhibits are physically separated from the amended complaint and are contained in separate portion of the Court's file from the amended complaint. The last exhibit bears the number "exh. 324," but, as noted above, there are only about 285 separate documents. The Court notes that the following exhibit numbers could not be located in the package Plaintiff submitted: 43, 44, 266, 284-297, 299-304, 307-312, and 318-320.

Ignoring the exhibits for a moment, the gist of Plaintiff's amended complaint is that since changing his religion to Judaism, he has been denied the right to freely exercise his religion in violation of his First Amendment rights and in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000cc-1, et seq. Specifically, the amended complaint alleges that Plaintiff has been unable to obtain various religious items (Torah, Siddur, etc.), that he has been denied a kosher diet (especially one free from pork byproducts), that he has been denied group religious activities, that he is being subjected to grooming policies which violate his religious beliefs, and that he has been denied clothing that complies with his religious beliefs. The amended complaint also appears to claim that the meals which Plaintiff has been served are not nutritionally adequate because Plaintiff has lost significant weight. Finally, the amended complaint alleges that Plaintiff has been retaliated against for filing grievances. The retaliation includes "allowing [Plaintiff] to go without ...

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