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Williams v. Obiss

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 27, 2013

JOSHUA WILLIAMS, No. M13271, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Joshua Williams was convicted in 2012 in Cook County, Illinois, of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is currently incarcerated at Vienna Correctional Center ("Vienna"). Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680 (Doc. 1). Although the compliant is muddled, it is clear that Plaintiff is alleging that: (1) his criminal prosecution in Cook County, Illinois, violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law; and (2) the conditions of confinement at Vienna-specifically the presence of asbestos in the ceiling, bugs and mold-constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff also makes the following blanket assertion:

[T]itle 6 civil acts-these discrimination retaliations upon me, because I'm black Criminal Malfeasance with harmful Intent, Tort claims Contributory negligent, Gross Negligence, Intervention in action, Punitive Damages, Verosity-perpensity, Imminent Danger [.]

(Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, for his conviction to be vacated, and his immediate release from prison.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint. The Court's review reveals that the complaint does not satisfy minimum pleading requirements. It is also clear that severance of claims into separate cases is appropriate in accordance with George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007). The transfer of one or more claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), § 1404(a) also appears warranted. Furthermore, it appears that not all of the claims can be brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and none of the claims can be brought under the FTCA. In the end, the Court finds that dismissal of the complaint, without prejudice is appropriate, thereby leaving Plaintiff to control his destiny and what filing fees are incurred.

The Adequacy of the Complaint

Preliminary review of the complaint is dictated under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which states:

(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). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only a short, plain statement of each claim-so-called "notice pleading, " as opposed to "fact pleading." However, 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).

As already indicated, the complaint consists of quite a few legal buzzwords, but little else. Even taking Plaintiff's pro se status into consideration, the Court cannot do better than to recognize that Plaintiff is taking issue with: (1) his state criminal prosecution and conviction; and (2) asbestos, bugs and mold in the ceiling at Vienna. Plaintiff does not associate his claims with particular defendants, except relative to Judge Obiss. Judge Obiss allegedly was "unfair, " "Bad Biased, " and committed "judicial misconduct by allowing the prosecutor to use Plaintiff's juvenile record." From that assertion, it can reasonably be inferred that the prosecutor maliciously prosecuted Plaintiff, and defense counsel, Ronald S. Kales, provided inadequate representation. There lies the problem with the complaint: the Court and the defendants are not supposed to merely guess at the claims.

The general assertions and legal buzzwords, without the barest of details, do not move the claim from possibility to plausibility. Therefore, the Twombly standard clearly has not been met. See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Furthermore, unintelligibility and organization justify rejecting ...

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