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Jimi P. Mcdonald, Inmate #B05692 v. Heather Cecil

April 4, 2012


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


Plaintiff Jimi P. McDonald, an inmate in Logan Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on incidents that occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"). Plaintiff is serving a five year sentence for robbery, two years for driving on a revoked license, and three years for theft. 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, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), 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 any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

Plaintiff claims that some time after July 7, 2010, a copy of the Will County Circuit Court's order dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief, sent via certified mail, was received at the Lawrence mail room and was signed for by Defendant Cecil, a mailroom clerk. However, the court order was never delivered to Plaintiff. As a consequence, Plaintiff missed his 30-day deadline to file a notice of appeal in that case, and was unable to prosecute an appeal of the court's denial of post-conviction relief. Upon later inquiry, he obtained a copy of the docket sheet and certified mail receipt from Will County, showing Defendant Cecil's signature on the receipt (Doc. 1-2, pp. 5-9).

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Cecil's actions violated the relevant departmental, statutory, and administrative code procedures requiring certified mail to be signed for by the inmate and delivered on the same day it is received. Further, he claims that Defendant Cecil intentionally diverted his court mail as retaliation against him for filing a grievance and lawsuit over an injury he suffered on July 14, 2010, because of unsafe conditions on his dietary job. He states that this retaliation also included the loss of his dietary job, repeated cell shakedowns, verbal abuse, and a delay in his previously-approved transfer to Logan.

Plaintiff claims that staff at Lawrence have a history of withholding, misplacing, and/or destroying inmates' mail. He has complained about this problem and filed grievances in the past, to no avail.

As relief, Plaintiff seeks a transfer to Logan Correctional Center, and compensatory and punitive damages. The Court notes that the transfer request is now moot, as Plaintiff was moved to Logan in December ...

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