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Karmatzis v. Baker

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 5, 2013

THOMAS BAKER, Defendants.


SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and incarcerated in Graham Correctional Center, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


Plaintiff has a pending case before this Court, in which he pursues claims for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment rights arising from incidents which occurred in Western Illinois Correctional Center. Karmatzis v. Fuqua, et al., 11-CV-3373 (C.D. Ill). The claims in this case involve alleged continuing retaliation for pursuing the 11-CV-3373 lawsuit.

Plaintiff alleges that, shortly after the scheduling deadlines were set in his case 11-CV-3373, Defendants wrote three false disciplinary reports against him in order to manufacture a reason to transfer him from Western Illinois Correctional Center to a higher security prison. Two disciplinary reports, written on September 11 and September 18, 2013, accused Plaintiff of failing to provide a urine sample for drug testing. Plaintiff alleges that he has a medical condition that makes urinating difficult, and that he suffers from dehydration and blood in his urine. Defendants allegedly knew that Plaintiff could not produce a urine sample, but went forth with the discipline anyway. Plaintiff was found guilty on both tickets, but the latter ticket was eventually expunged due to Plaintiff's medical condition. The third disciplinary ticket was written on September 2, 2013, accusing Plaintiff of carrying excess medications (Metamucil) on his person. Plaintiff was found guilty of that offense, even though an officer provided a written statement that the officer had granted Plaintiff permission to carry the excess medicine to return the medicine to the health care unit.

Also, Plaintiff seems to allege that the medical staff at Western Illinois Correctional Center refused to treat him for his difficulty urinating, blood in his urine, and dehydration in retaliation for his lawsuit.

At this point, the Court cannot rule out a claim that Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff for Plaintiff's exercise of his First Amendment right to pursue his action in 11-CV-3373. To prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim, Plaintiff must show that "(1) he engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a deprivation that would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future; and (3) the First Amendment activity was at least a motivating factor' in the Defendants' decision to take the retaliatory action." Bridges v. Gilbert , 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir.2009) ( quoting Woodruff v. Mason , 542 F.3d 545, 551 (7th Cir.2008)); Gomez v. Randle , 680 F.3d 859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012). If Plaintiff makes this showing, Defendants must show that they took the action for a legitimate reason. Plaintiff must then offer evidence that the purported legitimate reason for the adverse action is untrue. Thayer v. Chiczewski , 705 F.3d 237, 252 (7th Cir. 2012). In other words, Plaintiff must ultimately prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the adverse action occurred because of the retaliatory motive, not just that the action was motivated in part by retaliation. Id.

However, Plaintiff is not required to prove his claim at this point. He is required only to allege enough facts which, if true, allow a plausible inference that the adverse actions were motivated by retaliation for his lawsuit. He has met this burden as to the Defendants working at Western Illinois Correctional Center.

However, no plausible inference arises that the Defendants working at Menard Correctional Center took any action against Plaintiff in retaliation for Plaintiff's 11-CV-3373 lawsuit. Plaintiff alleges that the failure of officials at Menard Correctional Center to expunge his discipline was motivated by retaliation, but this alleged failure is too attenuated from Plaintiff's 11-CV-3373 lawsuit to allow a plausible inference of retaliatory motive. Case 11-CV-3373 is against Western officials and arises from events at Western, not Menard. None of the Menard officials were involved in writing the disciplinary reports or acting on the Adjustment Committee which found Plaintiff guilty. If Plaintiff is alleging that Menard officials retaliated against Plaintiff for Plaintiff's grievances filed at Menard, that claim would not be properly joined with this case and should be filed in the Southern District of Illinois.

Lastly, Plaintiff states an arguable claim against the medical professionals at Western Illinois Correctional Center for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. This claim may overlap with the claim Plaintiff is already pursuing in 11-CV-3373, but that determination requires a more developed record. Plaintiff's claim against the Menard officials for deliberate indifference to his medical needs is not properly joined in this case.


1) Plaintiff's handwriting is difficult to read. By July 3, 2013, Plaintiff is directed to inform the Court whether he can obtain access to a typewriter in order to type his future filings.

2) The merit review scheduled for June 10, 2013 is cancelled. The clerk is directed to notify Plaintiff's prison of the cancellation.

3) Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds that Plaintiff states the following constitutional claims that will proceed in this case: 1) First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants Baker, Still, Davis, Dorsey, Korte, Gille, Jennings, Bloomfield, Williams, Ervin, and Johnson; 2) Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs against Defendants Baker, Still, and Johnson. This case proceeds solely on the claims identified in this paragraph. Any additional claims shall not be ...

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