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James R. Henson v. Jeremy Kennon

May 18, 2011


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


Inmate #1611, IDOC No. N-70390,

Plaintiff James R. Henson, an inmate currently in the McHenry County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on events that occurred while Plaintiff was housed in the Chester Mental Health Center. Plaintiff is serving 6-year and 5-year sentences for separate convictions of aiding and abetting the possession or sale of a stolen vehicle. Plainitiff is also awaiting trial on another charge and was confined in the Chester Mental Health Center after a finding that he was unfit to stand trial. 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). Conversely, 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. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

Plaintiff alleges that on July 8, 2010, Defendant Kennon, assisted by Defendant Williams, confiscated several personal property items from Plaintiff's living area. Plaintiff's medication information and personal hygiene items were later returned to him on July 20, 2010. However, Defendant Fisher took possession of Plaintiff's legal material on July 8, 2010, and has refused to return it. The items retained by Defendant Fisher included an unfinished letter and envelope marked "legal mail" to Plaintiff's legal counsel (an attorney appointed in an unrelated case); a list of legal phone numbers and addresses; and other handwritten legal documents prepared by Plaintiff in his pursuit of prior complaints over Defendant Kennon's and Defendant Fisher's treatment of Plaintiff.

Also on July 8, 2010, Defendant Kennon filed a false report accusing Plaintiff of making a dangerous weapon with a toothbrush. As a result, Plaintiff was denied access to writing materials (a pencil) for 6 weeks, depriving him of the ability to write to his attorney or the courts, and preventing him from filing written grievances. Plaintiff's use of a toothbrush was also restricted, as was his recreation time.

Finally, Plaintiff complains that Defendant Kelley has refused to address his written complaints regarding Defendants Kennon and Fisher. One of Plaintiff's complaints involved Defendant Fisher's withholding of over 200 pages of legal mail and other material that had been ...

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