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Mitchell v. Harrington

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 6, 2013

CALVIN MITCHELL, No. R18381, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O S. BAKER, and WARDEN RICHARD HARRINGTON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

On August 20, 2013, Plaintiff Calvin Mitchell, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, housed at Menard Correctional Center, filed a motion for preliminary injunction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a) (Doc. 1). The motion was denied and, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 3, Plaintiff was directed to file a complaint in order to properly secure the Court's jurisdiction (Doc. 4). Plaintiff has now filed a complaint (Doc. 6). He brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on perceived harassment, threats and retaliation by Defendant C/O Baker.

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).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, in February 2004 C/O Baker lodged a fabricated disciplinary charge against Plaintiff. Plaintiff was subsequently transferred from Menard to another facility, but since his return to Menard he has had trouble with Baker. On June 28, 2013, Baker approached Plaintiff and threatened to beat Plaintiff, or have Plaintiff assaulted by other inmates. C/O Baker explained to Plaintiff that Plaintiff's former cellmate had revealed Plaintiff's plan to throw urine on Baker. Baker then threatened that if Plaintiff tried anything, he, Baker, would f' Plaintiff up.

On July 3, 2013, C/O Baker stopped in front of Plaintiff's cell and pointed a shotgun at Plaintiff and threatened to kill him. Plaintiff further alleges that Baker assaulted him in the past and is constantly harassing him (in unspecified ways), to the point that Plaintiff's psychotropic and anti-hypertension medication has had to be adjusted.

Plaintiff prays for an immediate transfer from Menard and for an award of monetary damages.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, and without regard to the merits of any claim, the Court finds it convenient to frame the allegations as a single overarching count:

Count 1: Defendant C/O Baker has subjected Plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment in violation ...

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