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Parker v. Randle

October 20, 2010

JEFFREY PARKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL RANDLE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate at the Shawnee 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, 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

Liberally construing the complaint, it appears that while confined in the Robinson Correctional Center (Robinson), Plaintiff and another inmate, Defendant Jerome Hereford, got into a physical altercation. It further appears that both Plaintiff and Hereford were taken to the segregation unit at Robinson pending an investigation into the incident. There appears to be a dispute over what happened next.

According to the view of prison officials, Plaintiff admitted to the guard escorting him to the segregation unit that Plaintiff had, in fact, kicked inmate Hereford in the leg. Plaintiff denies making such a statement.

It further appears that Defendant Brookhart was assigned to investigate the incident, including interviewing the guard to whom Plaintiff allegedly made the admission and, at the end of the investigation, Plaintiff. Plaintiff contends, however, that Brookhart did not conduct an adequate investigation before interviewing him. Specifically, Plaintiff states that during his interview he told Brookhart that he suffered broken ribs as a result of the fight. Plaintiff further alleges "then Defendant Brookhart . ask[s] me how I knew that [I had two broken ribs]." Plaintiff responded that the doctor told him. Plaintiff contends that if Brookhart had conducted an adequate investigation, Brookhart should have known that Plaintiff had broken ribs. Plaintiff claims that Brookhart's failure to conduct an adequate investigation violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and Due Process rights.

Plaintiff also alleges that during the interview, Brookhart told him to sign a statement. Plaintiff initially refused to sign the statement because it contained inaccurate information. Brookhart allegedly told Plaintiff that if he failed to sign the statement, Plaintiff would be charged with impeding an investigation and that he would make sure that Plaintiff would "get . a year across the board" as a sanction.

As a result of his investigation, Brookhart concluded that Plaintiff had kicked inmate Hereford and that Plaintiff had provided false information (i.e., by denying he made the admission about kicking Hereford). Accordingly, Brookhart issued Plaintiff a disciplinary report for (1) fighting and (2) giving false information to an employee. Defendant Fulling conducted a disciplinary hearing and found Plaintiff guilty of both disciplinary infractions. As a result, the following disciplinary actions were imposed: (1) 1 month on C-grade; (2) 1 month on segregation; (3) ...


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