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Dagans v. J. Schornback

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 26, 2014

JARROLD 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.

This matter is before the Court for preliminary review of Plaintiff Jarrold Dagan's First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (Doc. 11). Plaintiff, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), filed his original complaint on March 10, 2014 (Doc. 1). In the original pleading, he asserted claims under Illinois criminal law against six officials at Menard Correctional Center, arising from the 2012 issuance of a false disciplinary ticket, transfer to Tamms Correctional Center ("Tamms"), and extended period of confinement in segregation (Doc. 1, p. 5). On April 8, 2014, this Court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (Doc. 8). However, the dismissal was without prejudice, and Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint by May 13, 2014 (Doc. 8, p. 7). Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("amended complaint") on May 13, 2014. It is therefore timely.

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is once again before the Court for preliminary review, this time for review of the amended complaint. 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 Amended Complaint

According to the amended complaint, Plaintiff was involved in an altercation with another inmate at Menard on May 25, 2012 (Doc. 11, p. 8). As a result, he was issued a disciplinary ticket, placed in segregation, and transferred to Tamms (Doc. 11, p. 7).

Plaintiff's claims under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments arise from a second disciplinary ticket he received in connection with the May 2012 altercation (Doc. 11, p. 8). On July 11, 2012, Plaintiff was issued a ticket for carrying dangerous contraband. His first disciplinary ticket made no mention of this. Further, the second ticket followed a series of interviews with Menard officials, including Defendants Schornback, Hasemeyer, Childers, and Cawan, in which Plaintiff was repeatedly asked about gang activity (Doc. 11, pp. 8, 11). When he "failed to answer as these defendants wanted, " he was threatened with six months of segregation, a false disciplinary ticket, and ten years at Tamms (Doc. 11, pp. 8-9).

Plaintiff received an unfair adjustment committee hearing on the second ticket, which resulted in a finding of guilt (Doc. 11, p. 10). Defendants Mitchell and Newell presided over the hearing (Doc. 11, p. 14). No clear evidence was presented, showing that Plaintiff was in possession of a weapon during the May 2012 altercation (Doc. 1, p. 10). He was denied the opportunity to call any witnesses or present documentary or physical evidence. His request to show surveillance camera footage was denied, as was his request for a continuance (Doc. 11, p. 11).

Plaintiff was punished with segregation and transferred to Tamms. There, he remained in segregation until the facility closed. Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac") and Stateville, where he was placed in administrative segregation (Doc. 11, p. 15). In all, Plaintiff endured nearly two years of segregation on a disciplinary ticket that was ultimately expunged (Doc. 11, pp. 9, 15).

Plaintiff complains of generally deplorable conditions in segregation (Doc. 11, pp. 13, 15-16). He alleges that he was allowed only limited opportunities for recreational activities. He suffered severe mental and physical deterioration (Doc. 11, pp. 15-16).

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Schornback, Hasemeyer, Childers, Cawan, Mitchell, and Newell for violating his right to due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment and for subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. He also claims that Defendants conspired to retaliate against him by issuing him a false disciplinary ticket after he failed to provide the answers Defendants wanted during his multiple interviews addressing gang activity (Doc. 11, p. 15). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages (Doc. 11, p. 18).

Discussion

After carefully reviewing the allegations, the Court finds that the amended complaint states a colorable retaliation claim (Count 1) and conspiracy claim (Count 2) against Defendants Schornback, Hasemeyer, Childers, Cawan, Mitchell, and Newell, based on ...


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