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John Regan, #R-14454 v. Terry anderson

May 30, 2012


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


Plaintiff John Regan, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving consecutive 25-year sentences for two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated kidnaping, and seven year sentences for burglary and robbery. 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 supporting exhibits, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim should receive further review.

The Complaint

Prior to his conviction on the charges for which he is now serving time, Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Cook County Jail. He had been a member of the Y-LO Cobra street gang, which is affiliated with the Latin Folks gang (Doc. 1-1, p. 22). While in Cook County Jail, Plaintiff decided to renounce his membership in the gang. As a result, other gang members beat, stabbed, and seriously injured him on two occasions between 1999 and 2001, leading to his hospitalization both times (Doc. 1, p.3; Doc. 1-1, p. 21).

After Plaintiff was convicted and transferred to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), he received death threats from members of his former gang. In February 2005, while Plaintiff was in Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), he was involved in a "self-defense" fight with a Gangster Disciples member, who then put out a "smash on sight" order on him (Doc. 1, p. 4; Doc. 1-1, p. 21). Because of this and other death threats, Plaintiff requested placement in protective custody ("PC"). His PC request was approved in July 2005, and he was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), where he remained in PC (Doc. 1-1, p. 21, Doc. 1, p. 4).

Plaintiff became a Buddhist in 2006, and since then has continued to adhere to the tenets of that faith, which include pacifism, non-violence, and refusal to defend oneself even when physically attacked (Doc. 1, p. 4). Since his conversion, he has not been involved in any physical or verbal conflicts (Doc. 1-1, pp. 14, 22). Plaintiff states he is not physically large, standing five feet, four inches tall, and weighing 158 pounds (Doc. 1, p. 3). He still has gang tattoos that mark him as a member of the Y-LO Cobras. He claims that all of these factors make him particularly vulnerable to attack by his former gang associates and their allies if he were returned to general population (Doc. 1-1, p. 3).

On May 11, 2011, Plaintiff received a disciplinary ticket for having six thorazine pills in his possession, which resulted in his transfer out of PC to segregation in Pontiac (Doc. 1-1, pp. 14, 21). His PC status was then reviewed, and was ultimately revoked (Doc. 1-1, p. 21). Plaintiff was transferred to Menard on October 7, 2011 (Doc. 1, p. 4). In November 2011, he requested to be placed back into PC, based on his history of prior death threats, the attacks in Cook County Jail, his religious beliefs, and his tattoos. His PC request was denied by Defendants Cowan, Sauerwine, and Rednour. Plaintiff appealed the PC denial and was interviewed by Defendant Anderson (Chairperson of the IDOC Administrative Review Board), who denied the appeal on February 9, 2012 (Doc. 1, p. 6). Defendant Godinez (the IDOC Director) approved the denial of Plaintiff's appeal. Plaintiff was then sent back to general population, where he was threatened again by the Latin Folks. A few days later, he got a letter ...

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