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Carlos Hernandez-Arredondo v. Lisa J W Hollingsworth

July 6, 2011


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



Plaintiff Carlos Hernandez-Arredondo, an inmate in the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution in Alabama, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights by persons acting under the color of federal authority. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). At all times relevant to this complaint, Plaintiff was incarcerated at USP-Marion, Illinois. 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

On November 4, 2008, Plaintiff was placed in segregation in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) at USP-Marion as a result of an altercation with another inmate. Inmates in the SHU are confined to their cell for twenty-four hours per day, under restrictions including no television, telephone calls, visits, education or rehabilitation programs, and limited outdoor exercise. Plaintiff remained in the SHU for approximately twenty months, and was never given any hearing where he might have challenged the appropriateness of that placement. Plaintiff points to Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policy, which mandates that such a hearing be held every thirty days while an inmate remains housed in the SHU. Defendants Hollingsworth (Marion warden) and Ormandy (captain at Marion) were responsible for Plaintiff's SHU placement and failed to provide him with a hearing. He also faults Defendants Nalley, Kenney and Savers (all BOP officials) for failing to give him a hearing on his SHU placement after becoming aware that hearings were not being held for Marion SHU inmates.

After Plaintiff filed complaints about his SHU confinement, he alleges that Defendants Hollingsworth and Ormandy, along with Defendants Belle, Bryerson and Edge (Marion case managers and unit manager) conspired to prolong his confinement in segregation, and retaliated against him by referring him for placement in a Special Management Unit (SMU). According to Plaintiff, the placement in the SMU would result in lengthening the duration of his segregation. Plaintiff complained about the retaliation to Defendants Nalley, Savers and Kenney, who took no action. Ultimately, Plaintiff was transferred to a Special Management Unit in FCI-Talladega.

Finally, Plaintiff complains that Defendants Hollingsworth and Ormandy were deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs by failing to have him evaluated or treated for symptoms he developed during his prolonged isolation.

Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as declaratory ...

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