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Dagans v. Hasemeyer

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 8, 2014

JERROLD DAGANS, #B19479, Plaintiff,
v.
J. SCHORNBACK, C. HASEMEYER, D. CHILDERS, MAJOR CAWAN, D. MITCHELL and R. NEWELL, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). Plaintiff's claims arise from an allegedly false disciplinary ticket he received at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard") in 2012, which resulted in his transfer to Tamms Correctional Center ("Tamms") and his extended confinement in segregation (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff now sues four Menard officials and two Tamms officials for alleged violations of Illinois criminal law. He seeks compensatory damages, state back pay, and a prison transfer (Doc. 1, p. 6).

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

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, Plaintiff was involved in an altercation with another inmate at Menard on May 25, 2012 (Doc. 1, p. 5). As a result, he was issued a disciplinary ticket for fighting, causing a dangerous disturbance, and disobeying a direct order (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff was immediately placed in segregation and transferred to Tamms the following month. This disciplinary ticket is not in dispute.

Plaintiff's claims instead arise from a second disciplinary ticket he received in connection with the May 2012 altercation. On July 11, 2012, Plaintiff was issued a ticket for carrying dangerous contraband during the May altercation (Doc. 1, pp. 11, 13). This ticket followed a series of interviews with Menard officials, in which Plaintiff was accused of but denied owning a homemade weapon. The complaint alleges that Plaintiff was issued the ticket because he failed to cooperate with an investigation into gang-related activities by Menard officials.

Plaintiff maintained his innocence from "day one" (Doc. 1, p. 5). Even so, he was found guilty of the violation at an adjustment committee hearing[1] on July 24, 2012 (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14). After fourteen months, Plaintiff's ticket was expunged, following an investigation and review by the administrative review board ("A.R.B.") (Doc. 1, p. 6). Even so, Plaintiff continues to be held in administrative detention (Doc. 1, p. 8). He alleges that the A.R.B. "failed to respond within [a] re[a]sonable time to obtain proper relief."

Plaintiff now sues Defendants for intentional and malicious violations of Illinois law (Doc. 1, p. 8). According to the complaint, Defendants are each guilty of five separate felonies under Illinois law, including official misconduct, intimidation, obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct, and criminal conspiracy (Doc. 1, pp. 15-18). Plaintiff seeks a prison transfer, compensatory damages, and state back pay.

Discussion

After carefully reviewing the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint, the Court finds that it has no subject matter jurisdiction to hear this case. The complaint poses no actual federal question. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (granting district courts "original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States"). "Section 1983 creates a federal remedy against anyone who, under color of state law, deprives any citizen of the United States... of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.'" Planned Parenthood of Indiana, Inc. v. Commissioner of Indiana State Dept. Health, 699 F.3d 962, 972 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Despite suing Defendants under § 1983, Plaintiff does not allege that Defendants violated his rights under any federal laws or the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, subject matter jurisdiction does not arise under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 based on a federal question.

Subject matter jurisdiction does not arise based on diversity of citizenship either. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (granting district courts "original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between... citizens of different states..."). The complaint includes no allegations suggesting that the requirements for diversity jurisdiction are satisfied. Given the fact that an Illinois prisoner is suing Illinois officials, it does not appear that diversity jurisdiction exists.

Plaintiff would have difficulty bringing his claims in any court, whether federal or state. Plaintiff's claims are limited to state criminal claims against Defendants. Criminal statutes do not provide for private civil causes of action. See generally Diamond v. Charles, 476 U.S. 54, 64-65 (1986) (holding that private citizens cannot compel enforcement of ...


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