The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert U. S. District Judge
Plaintiff Antonio Reyes, an inmate in 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.
Reyes prefaces his complaint with an explanation of his history within the Illinois Department of Corrections. He is currently serving a life sentence, which began to run in 1987. In the late 1990s, while at Stateville, he began to work as an inmate law clerk. Shortly thereafter, he states that officials at Stateville began a campaign of harassment in retaliation for the numerous complaints and grievances he filed, or assisted other inmates in filing. At one point, Reyes received an allegedly false disciplinary report, over which he filed suit. That lawsuit was eventually settled; Reyes states that one term of the settlement was to expunge that disciplinary report. Reyes alleges that Internal Affairs officers conspired to compile false records to label him as a member of a security threat group (STG); specifically, he is now identified as a member of the Latin Kings.
In 2003, Reyes was transferred to Menard. In 2005, the aforementioned disciplinary record was expunged. Several months later, Reyes spoke with his counselor regarding reinstatement of his low-escape-risk status, which had been elevated due to that disciplinary proceeding. Reyes filed numerous grievances over this matter, but his low-escape-risk status was not reinstated. As a result, he was denied a job in the law library at Menard. Reyes believes that his inaccurate STG classification is used by I.D.O.C. to exclude him from certain jobs and privileges.
The events giving rise to this action began in the fall of 2007. Between September 2007 and January 2008, Reyes experienced difficulty in getting access to the law library in order to meet certain court deadlines. He specifically alleges that Defendant Allsup (a/k/a Schorn) delayed in responding to his requests for access and provided misinformation. He further alleges that Defendants Ford and Walker simply denied his grievances over these matters "in boilerplate fashion." Finally, he states that with regard to one specific, Defendant Fairchild advised Reyes that he could find no record of that grievance on file. Reyes alleges that these actions were done in retaliation for his prior litigation and grievances filed against staff, in violation of his constitutional rights.
Prison officials may not retaliate against inmates for filing grievances or otherwise complaining about their conditions of confinement. See, e.g., Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005 (7th Cir. 2002); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607 (7th Cir. 2000); Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d 267 (7th Cir. 1996); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139 (7th Cir. 1988). At issue here is whether Reyes experienced an adverse action that would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future, and if the First Amendment activity was "at least a ...