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Spivey v. Randal

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 24, 2013

RAY CHARLES SPIVEY, #B-43143, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ray Charles Spivey, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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.

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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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).

A review of the complaint reveals that it is so muddled as pleaded that the Court cannot, with any confidence, decipher Plaintiff's intended claims. Moreover, the intended defendants are not clearly identified. Therefore, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under Section 1915A and dismiss the complaint without prejudice and with leave to file an amended complaint.

The Court observes that Plaintiff has two "strikes" under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), for filing actions that were dismissed for being frivolous, malicious or for failing to state a claim: Spivey v. Walker, No. 05-cv-00163-JPG (S.D. Ill. Dismissed Jan. 22, 2007); and Spivey v. Elk, 91-cv-08201 (N.D. Ill. Dismissed Dec. 31, 1991). Therefore, Plaintiff would be well advised to be mindful of the following considerations when re-drafting any complaint, so he does not incur a third strike.

The Defendants

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(a) dictates that the caption of a complaint name all parties. Although four individuals are specifically named as defendants, the caption also lists "Guards, Nurses, Outside Incorporations [sic], et al." The complaint also contains a listing of defendants: #1 Flemming; #2 Medical/Wexford Inc. Doctors and Nurses. There is further indication that additional defendants are to be culled from pages 2-39 of the complaint. Considering Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court would usually sort out the defendants and claims on its own, but that is not possible in this situation.

Pages 2-7 of the complaint set forth five claims, referencing more than a dozen additional potential defendants. The six pages that follow are exhibits; then, on what should be numbered as page 14, but which is numbered page 28, the narrative resumes. It is at this point that any pretense of organization evaporates.

What Plaintiff has labeled as pages 28-39 contains an indecipherable numbering system. It is unclear whether Plaintiff intends to list additional claims and defendants, or whether he is merely offering details relevant to the claims and apparent defendants previously mentioned in the more ordered portion of the complaint.

Plaintiff must now clearly list the defendants in the caption of the amended complaint. He must also make clear in the amended complaint each ...

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