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Carpenter v. Kunkel

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 8, 2013

JERMAINE CARPENTER, Plaintiff,
v.
JERRY KUNKEL, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and detained in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

The "privilege to proceed without posting security for costs and fees is reserved to the many truly impoverished litigants who, within the District Court's sound discretion, would remain without legal remedy if such privilege were not afforded to them." Brewster v. North Am. Van Lines, Inc. , 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th Cir. 1972). Additionally, a court must dismiss cases proceeding in forma pauperis "at any time" if the action is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim, even if part of the filing fee has been paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)(2). Accordingly, this Court grants leave to proceed in forma pauperis only if the complaint states a federal claim. A hearing was scheduled to assist in this review, but the hearing will be cancelled as unnecessary.

In reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, ___ F.3d ___ , 2013 WL 3336713 *2 (7th Cir. 2103). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S. , 2013 WL 3215667 *2 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoted cite omitted).

ALLEGATIONS

On May 4, 2014, Plaintiff covered up the window to his room at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center in order to have privacy while Plaintiff used the toilet. Defendant Baptist, who was collecting dinner trays, opened the chuck hole to Plaintiff's room, infringing on Plaintiff's privacy. Plaintiff protested, to which Baptist responded with rude comments. Plaintiff then asked to speak to a supervising guard about Baptist's unprofessional behavior. This caused Baptist to call a "code, " which resulted in several guards coming to the area. Plaintiff was required to accept a two hour "cool down" even though Plaintiff had done nothing wrong. Defendant Baptist wrote a false incident report against Plaintiff. Defendants Groot and Jumper presided over Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing, even though Groot and Jumper are Defendants in Plaintiff's other pending lawsuits. Groot and Jumper were biased, punishing Plaintiff in retaliation for the lawsuits. Plaintiff was not allowed to provide exonerating evidence from witnesses. Plaintiff received 14 days of segregation for his punishment, which included the confiscation of his audio-visual equipment.

ANALYSIS

Procedural due process rights are not triggered until a constitutionally significant deprivation is at stake. In Miller v. Dobier , 634 F.3d 412 (7th Cir. 2011), the Seventh Circuit held that the imposition of "close" status at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center did not trigger procedural due process protections. However, whether Plaintiff suffered the same kind of close status as in Miller cannot be determined at this point. Accordingly, a procedural due process claim will proceed against Defendants Jumper, Groot, and James Haage. A retaliation claim will proceed against Defendants Jumper and Groot for allegedly retaliating against Plaintiff because of Plaintiff's lawsuits against them. A retaliation claim will also proceed against Defendant Baptist for allegedly filing a false report against Plaintiff in retaliation for Plaintiff's objections to Baptist's alleged disrespectful behavior.

The Court cannot discern a federal claim against the remaining Defendants. Liberty Healthcare and the Security Director cannot be held liable for the constitutional violations of employees or subordinates. Chavez v. Illinois State Police , 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001) (no respondeat superior liability under § 1983). The other Defendants were involved in confiscating Plaintiff's audio-visual equipment for two weeks as part of his punishment. Confiscation of audio-visual equipment for two weeks does not rise to the deprivation of a constitutional interest, even if the confiscation were unfair.

IT IS ORDERED:

1. The hearing scheduled for October 15, 2013 is cancelled. The clerk is directed to notify Rushville Treatment and Detention Center of the cancellation.

2. Plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis is granted (d/e 3). Pursuant to a review of the Complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff states the following federal constitutional claims: 1) procedural due process claim against Defendants Groot, Haage, and Jumper; 2) First Amendment claim against Defendants Groot and Jumper for retaliating against Plaintiff for Plaintiff's lawsuits; 3) First Amendment claim against Defendant Baptist for retaliating against Plaintiff for Plaintiff's complaints about Baptist's alleged disrespectful behavior. This case proceeds solely on the claims identified in this paragraph. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the Court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

3. Defendants Kunkell, Liberty Healthcare, M. Jackson, Norman, Wear, and Baptist are dismissed for failure ...


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