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Jackson v. Gaetz

September 29, 2010

MAURICE A. JACKSON, #R-31861, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD GAETZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Maurice A. Jackson, 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.

FACTS ALLEGED

On June 17, 2009, Jackson received a disciplinary ticket for intimidation or threats, resulting in six months in segregation. On that same day, Jackson received a print-out of his trust fund statement for a civil case he was preparing. In reviewing that statement, Jackson discerned that his outgoing mail was being subjected to significant delays. The next day, Jackson began filing a series of grievances over this matter. Shortly thereafter, Jackson alleges that Defendants Phillips, Foster, Lockhead and Drain began contaminating his food with assorted substances, including urine, saliva, bugs, sticks, dirt, hair, and medication; he believes these actions were taken in retaliation for his grievances. Jackson then alleges, generally, that Defendant Cowan did not respond to his grievances.

During this same time, Jackson discovered that the prison menu had been modified to include a substantial amount of soy products in lieu of meat. In addition, fresh vegetables were replaced with canned vegetables, and the quantity of dairy products were reduced.

RETALIATION

As described above, Jackson alleges that Phillips, Foster, Lockhead and Drain tampered with and contaminated his food in retaliation for grievances that Jackson filed.*fn1

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 Jackson experienced an adverse action that would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future, and if the First Amendment activity was "at least a motivating factor" in the Defendants' decision to take the retaliatory action. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 551 (7th Cir. 2009).

This is a question that cannot be resolved at the pleading stages of this case. Thus, the Court is unable to dismiss this retaliation claim against Phillips, ...


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