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Smith v. Wells

September 24, 2010

QIRSHTON SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRAD WELLS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a person confined at the Madison County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of her constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and monetaryrelief for alleged violations of her right to Equal Protection of the law. 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

Plaintiff's complaint is disarmingly simple. She is a female currently confined at the Madison County Jail and she would like to be a "trustee." Plaintiff, however, has been informed that the Madison County Jail does not have female trustees. Plaintiff apparently takes that statement to mean that females are not eligible to be trustees at Madison County Jail. Accordingly, Plaintiff contends that she is being denied her "equal rights."

DISCUSSION

The Court liberally construes Plaintiff's claim that she is being denied her "equal rights" as a claim that she is being denied Equal Protection of the law. While Plaintiff has no constitutional right to be a trustee, nevertheless if trustees are utilized at the Madison County Jail, then Jail officials may not use unlawful criteria for determining which prisoners may be trustees and which may not. It is not necessarily unlawful for Jail officials to use a prisoner's gender as a basis for making a decision. However, a gender based decision can violate the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if it fails to further an important government interest in a way that is substantially related to that interest. Miss. Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 723, 724 (1982).

Assuming that Plaintiff's allegations - and the reasonable inferences from them - are true, the Court is unable to dismiss Plaintiff's ...


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