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Ramirez v. Valdez

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

July 10, 2013

CESAR RAMIREZ, # R15877, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Cesar Ramirez, serving a ten year sentence for Home Invasion and a consecutive six year term for predatory sexual assault, is currently incarcerated at Big Muddy Correctional Center ("Big Muddy"). Plaintiff has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint.

1. The Standard of Review

In relevant part, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A 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).

2. Synopsis of the Complaint

The named defendants are Randy S. Valdez and Michael E. Sanders, who are members of the prison Adjustment Committee; Warden Zachary Roecheman; Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections Salvador Anthony Godinez; and Correctional Officer ("C/O") Nalley. Plaintiff's contentions stem from C/O Nalley's search of Plaintiff's cell on May 25, 2013. First, Plaintiff contends Nalley and other unidentified officers (who are not identified as defendants) beat and injured Plaintiff when they arrived to conduct the search, and then C/O Nalley failed get Plaintiff medical care. Second, Plaintiff alleges that Nalley and others interrogated him and threatened him in order to secure a false confession, upon which false disciplinary charges were based. Third, the Adjustment Committee, comprised of Defendants Valdez and Sanders, along with Warden Roecheman, denied Plaintiff due process, falsely convicting him and punishing him with demotion to C Grade for six months, six months in segregation, the revocation of six months of good conduct credits, a transfer, and loss of commissary and gym/yard privileges. The fourth and final claim is against C/O Nalley for stealing from Plaintiff's property boxes, taking a fan, radio and other items.

The Court need not delineate or discuss Plaintiff's claims further, as the complaint and attached exhibits make clear that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit.

3. Exhuastion of Administrative Remedies

The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 ("PLRA") contains a comprehensive administrative exhaustion requirement. "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions... by a prisoner... until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). See also Booth v. Churner, 531 U.S. 956 (2001); Massey v. Wheeler, 221 F.3d 1030, 1034 (7th Cir. 2000). The purpose behind the exhaustion requirement is to give corrections officials the opportunity to address complaints internally before a federal suit is initiated. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002). "[I]f a prison has an internal administrative grievance system through which a prisoner can seek to correct a problem, then the prisoner must utilize that administrative system before filing a claim under Section 1983." Massey v. Helman, 196 F.3d 727, 733 (7th Cir. 1999); see Smith v. Zachary, 255 F.3d 446, 450 (7th Cir. ...

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