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Michael Williams v. Taylorville Correctional Center

October 3, 2012


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


Wednesday, 03 October, 2012 10:16:55 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and incarcerated in Taylorville Correctional Center, challenges adverse actions which he believes were motivated by racial animus. 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).


Plaintiff alleges that he has been unfairly singled out because of his race, African American. In particular, he alleges that Defendant Leepre has repeatedly hindered Plaintiff's ability to go to church or chow. Leepre also allegedly "tore up" Plaintiff's cell during a compliance check on May 1, 2012, throwing Plaintiff's seizure medication in the trash. The harassment was allegedly continued by Defendant Skinner on August 12, 2012, who allegedly called Plaintiff a snitch in front of his cellmate and other inmates, leading to Plaintiff being threatened and constantly spit on by other inmates. On August 22, 2012, Defendant Blazich allegedly joined in the racial profiling by writing a false disciplinary ticket.


Plaintiff does not explain why he believes Defendants actions were discriminatory, but at this point the Court cannot rule out an equal protection claim based on race discrimination, or possibly a class-of-one equal protection claim. See Sung Park v. Indiana University School of Dentistry, - F.3d -, 2012 WL 3758239 *4 (7th Cir. 2012)(class of one claim requires intentional, irrational discrimination or knowledge the discrimination lacked justification). Plaintiff may also be alleging that some of these adverse actions amounted to retaliation for his protected First Amendment activity. He seems to also pursue a claim that labeling him a snitch placed him at a substantial risk of serious injury. Given the lack of detail in Plaintiff's complaint, the Court identifies these only as possible claims, subject to a motion to dismiss by Defendants pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).


1) The merit review scheduled for October 9, 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 possible federal constitutional claims for equal protection violations, failure to protect, and retaliation for protected First Amendment activity. This case proceeds solely on the claims identified in this paragraph. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the ...

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