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Shehadeh v. Bender

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 3, 2013

JAMAL SHEHADEH, Plaintiff,
v.
CARLA BENDER, Clerk of the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth Judicial District, Defendant.

OPINION

JAMES E. SHADID, District Judge.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this case in the Springfield Division while incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The case was transferred to this Court after Judge Myerscough recused herself pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a).

Plaintiff was released from prison after filing this case, but the Court is still required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to conduct a merit review of the Complaint because Plaintiff filed the case as a prisoner. See Johnson v. Hill , 965 F.Supp. 1487 (E.D. Va. 1997) (§ 1915A applied to action brought by plaintiff while in prison, even though plaintiff was released before screening).

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."

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

The allegations are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and from his state court petition for mandamus, which Plaintiff attaches as an exhibit to the Complaint.

In late 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission. The Commission dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff sought review of the dismissal, requesting that the Illinois Commerce Clerk send Plaintiff a copy of the record. Plaintiff also mailed a request to Defendant Carla Bender, the Clerk of the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth Judicial District, asking her to send him a copy of the record after the record was filed in the Appellate Court.

Defendant Bender allegedly initially refused to provide Plaintiff with a copy of the record on appeal, despite Plaintiff's request. Plaintiff maintains that his appeal was dismissed as a result of Defendant's refusal to provide him with a copy of the record.

However, four days after the dismissal Plaintiff filed a petition for mandamus in the Illinois Supreme Court asking the Court to compel Defendant to provide a copy of the record. Plaintiff's appeal of the Commission's ruling was ultimately reinstated and Plaintiff was mailed a copy of the record by Defendant.

Plaintiff believes that his original requests to Defendant for the record were denied because Defendant has a policy of not sending the record on appeal to incarcerated, pro se litigants.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff seeks to recover $91.20 in copying and postage costs he incurred in bringing his petition for mandamus in the Illinois Supreme Court, costs he argues were caused by Defendant's initial refusal to send Plaintiff a copy of the record. He asserts that his costs are not recoverable in state court because his mandamus ...


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