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Julius James v. Salvador A. Godinez

April 27, 2012

JULIUS JAMES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SALVADOR A. GODINEZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:

E-FILED Friday, 27 April, 2012 03:58:34 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated in Pontiac Correctional Center, pursues claims arising from the prison's refusal to pay him $10 per month, like other similarly situated inmates are allegedly paid. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

LEGAL STANDARD

The Court is required by § 1915A to review a Complaint filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer and, through such process, to identify cognizable claims, dismissing any claim that is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." A hearing is held if necessary to assist the Court in this review, but, in this case, the Court concludes that no hearing is necessary. The Complaint and its attachments are clear enough on their own for this Court to perform its merit review of Plaintiff's Complaint.

The review standard under § 1915A is the same as the notice pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). To state a claim, the allegations must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations must give enough detail to give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)(add'l citation omitted). The factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged . . . . Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555-56. However, pro se pleadings are liberally construed when applying this standard. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff's allegations are taken from his Amended Complaint. (d/e 8). Plaintiff is an "unassigned" inmate in segregation. The Court presumes that "unassigned" means not assigned to a job. Plaintiff believes that his equal protection rights are being violated because the unassigned inmates in the general population receive monthly state payments, while Plaintiff does not.*fn1

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff has no constitutional right to a job or to wages. Vanskike v. Peters, 974 F.2d 806, 809 (7th Cir. 1992)(prisoner has no constitutional right to a job in prison, nor a constitutional right to compensation for work performed); Wallace v. Robinson, 940 F.2d 243, 248 (7th Cir. 1991)(prisoner has no constitutional right to particular job assignment); Garza v. Miller, 688 F.2d 480, 485 (7th Cir. 1982)(inmate has no constitutional interest in educational or job opportunities).

However, that principle does not necessarily preclude an equal protection claim. "In the prison context, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires inmates to be treated equally, unless unequal treatment bears a rational relation to a legitimate penal interest." May v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 882 (7th Cir. 2000)(citations omitted)(claim stated on allegations that detainees in hospital were treated differently than detainees in jail); Williams v. Lane, 851 F.2d 867 (7th Cir. 1988)(affirming district court's ruling that disparate treatment between general population and protective custody inmates violated equal protection). Plaintiff implicitly contends that, with regard to state pay, no legitimate penological reason exists to treat him differently from unassigned inmates in general population. That is enough at this point to state an equal protection claim.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

1) The merit review scheduled for May 21, 2012 is cancelled. The clerk is directed to notify Plaintiff's prison of the cancellation.

2) Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A, the Court finds that Plaintiff states an equal protection claim based on unassigned inmates in general population receiving state pay while unassigned inmates in segregation do not. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the Court's discretion on ...


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