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Gilbert Cardenas v. Patricia Mashacher

April 16, 2012


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


Plaintiff Gilbert Cardenas, a pretrial detainee in Chester Mental Health Center ("Chester"), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has been found unfit to stand trial. A pretrial detainee who has been found unfit to stand trial is a "prisoner" within the meaning of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Kalinowski v. Bond, 358 F.3d 978, 978-79 (7th Cir. 2004) ("Pretrial detainees are 'prisoners' for purposes of the PLRA because they are in custody while 'accused of . violations of criminal law.'" (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h)). 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 and shall dismiss this action.

The Complaint

Plaintiff claims that his right to due process is being infringed by the incident report system at Chester. When a "BBR"*fn1 report is made on a resident, he claims there is no committee or hearing process for the resident to challenge the report or restrictions imposed after an incident is documented (Doc. 1, p. 2). He states that the treatment team considers the incident report and may restrict the resident's activities, for example, telephone access, personal property, mail, and outside activities. Plaintiff does not describe any specific incident report or restriction that has been imposed on him. However, he asserts that the inability to challenge any incident reports may cause him to be unable to apply for conditional release or a transfer to a less restrictive facility based on a good behavior record at Chester (Doc. 1, p. 3).

Next, Plaintiff states that his Nazirite religious beliefs require him to follow the Torah. He implies that the use of audio/video cameras in Chester violates his religious rights in some way. He then states that staff members use the cameras to "show us, and make fun of us calling us crazy" (Doc. 1, p. 3). Further, the Chester administration "has allowed patients to kill each other." Id. Plaintiff wants a list of patients who have been hurt by staff members and wants the cameras removed from the living units.

Finally, Plaintiff complains that the Human Rights Committee for Chester is "arbitrary" and does not include an independent agent to watch over the interests of the patients (Doc. 1, p. 4). He again claims that patients have been killed by Chester employees, and there is nobody to whom such deaths can be ...

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