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Johnson v. Delgado

March 1, 2010

TERRY C. JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSE A. DELGADO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, formerly an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center,*fn1 brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief 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, 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).

THE COMPLAINT

In early April 2008, while confined at the Tamms Correctional Center, Plaintiff requested restoration of good conduct credits that had previously been taken from him. In late April 2008, Plaintiff learned from prison staff that 9 months of good conduct credit would be restored to him pursuant to his request. In early May 2008, however, Plaintiff witnessed two corrections officers at Tamms choke another inmate in the law library. It appears that Plaintiff agreed to make a statement concerning this attack to Defendants Newell and Mitchell.

In mid-May 2008, Plaintiff was transferred from Tamms to Menard. After his arrival at Menard, Plaintiff was shown a copy of a statement that Newell and Mitchell attributed to him.

Plaintiff, though, contends that Newell and Mitchell altered his statement so as to make it appear that the inmate who was choked by the corrections officers had not been fully restrained. In mid-October 2008, after Plaintiff continued to object that the statement was incorrect, he was issued a disciplinary ticket for "impeding an investigation" by Defendant Delgado and placed on temporary administrative segregation.

In late October 2008, Plaintiff was found guilty of the disciplinary ticket by Defendants Darnell and Lee. As a result, Plaintiff was placed on 6 months segregation; 6 months C-grade; and 6 months commissary restriction. Plaintiff contends that the Defendants Darnell and Lee were biased and prejudiced against him and that the disciplinary action was not supported by any evidence. Furthermore, Plaintiff charges that Defendants Darnell and Lee found him guilty in retaliation for Plaintiff because he had reported the misconduct of other corrections officers. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Newell, Mitchell, Gaetz, Hulick, Walker, and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), withheld the restoration of 9-months of good conduct credit - awarded back to him in based on his April 2008 request - because of Plaintiff's complaints about the corrections officers.

Plaintiff claims (1) that he was denied equal protection of the law because he was subjected to "vindictive action for complaining . . . [about] staff misconduct"; (2) that he was denied Due Process of law because the disciplinary action was not supported by sufficient evidence of Plaintiff's guilt; (3) that he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment while confined in disciplinary segregation; (4) that he was denied Due Process of law because his good conduct credits were withheld without reason; and (5) that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment right to ...


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