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Larry G. Harris, #N-57672 v. Lee Ryker and Mark Bader

November 2, 2011

LARRY G. HARRIS, #N-57672, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEE RYKER AND MARK BADER, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Larry G. Harris, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff was convicted of two counts of armed robbery, and is serving forty-five and twenty year sentences. 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 and supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A and shall dismiss this case.

The Complaint

Plaintiff has been incarcerated for the last eighteen years, and during that time, has had money on deposit in his inmate trust fund account. He contends that the interest earned on his account is his property, and seeks return of that interest to him. It is the practice of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") to pool the interest earned on inmate trust fund accounts, and transfer the interest to the Inmates' Benefit Fund,*fn1 where it may be spent to benefit the inmate population. Plaintiff argues that the "theft" of the interest which has accrued on the funds held in his individual inmate trust account violates the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause. He also complains that IDOC staff spends the interest money in the Inmates' Benefit Fund without Plaintiff having any say in the matter. He names Lee Ryker, the warden, and Mark Bader, the trust fund administrator, as Defendants.

Discussion

Illinois law provides that the personal funds of a prisoner in IDOC custody are held in trust for the prisoner by the authorities at the prison in which he or she is confined. Such funds include money that is in the physical possession of a prisoner at the time of his or her incarceration, together with all personal funds deposited with the IDOC for the use and benefit of, or belonging to, the prisoner. The matter of trust fund ...


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