United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), currently incarcerated at Dixon Correctional Center ("Dixon") (Doc. 1, p. 1). On June 30, 2014, proceeding pro se, he filed several motions in his previous case in this Court, No. 09-cv-807-MJR-SCW (also captioned Haywood v. Hathaway, which shall be referred to herein as Haywood I ). These motions were subsequently refiled as Docs. 3, 4, and 5 in the instant case, pursuant to the order at Doc. 123 in Haywood I.
Also on June 30, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a new civil rights complaint (Doc. 1 herein), which the Clerk of Court filed to open this new action. An examination of Plaintiff's "Petition for re-file/Continuation of current filing fee status & forma pauperis/App. of Counsel and Memorandum of Law" (Doc. 3) along with the new complaint (Doc. 1) reveals that Plaintiff is requesting to now proceed with retaliation claims which were dismissed from Haywood I at threshold review on May 24, 2010 (Doc. 12 in Haywood I ). Further, Plaintiff asks the Court to reinstate those claims in the original case ( Haywood I ), without requiring him to file a new action (Doc. 3, p. 3).
The complaint in this case (Doc. 1) consists only of a cover page, accompanied by nine pages of documents which relate to Plaintiff's claim that a false disciplinary ticket was filed against him in retaliation for his complaint that Defendant Rick Odum (an auto mechanics teacher) physically assaulted Plaintiff during a class session. These events all took place while Plaintiff was confined at the Shawnee Correctional Center ("Shawnee"). The complaint is not signed by Plaintiff, nor does it contain a distinct statement or summary of his claims against the five named Defendants.
Procedural History - Haywood I
Plaintiff filed his original complaint in Haywood I in October 2009. On March 14, 2010, he submitted his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 9 in Haywood I ). He outlined his claims in five counts: Counts 1-4 were against Defendants Collier, Rockwell, Russell, and Hathaway, claiming that each of them retaliated against him for making the complaint about Rick Odum, by bringing the disciplinary charge (Collier), finding him guilty and imposing punishment (Rockwell and Russell), and allowing him to remain in segregation despite his grievances (Hathaway). Count 5 was against Defendant Warden Hathaway only, claiming that Plaintiff was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment when his segregation cell was freezing cold during severe weather and a power outage.
On May 24, 2010, the Court dismissed Counts 1-4 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, because in addition to the 60 days in segregation, Plaintiff was sanctioned with a revocation of one month of good conduct credit (Doc. 12 in Haywood I ). Under the doctrine of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 480-81 (1994), Plaintiff's civil rights claim for damages could not be maintained, because it would necessarily call into question the validity of the disciplinary action (the equivalent for Heck purposes of a conviction and sentence) that revoked his good time credits. The retaliation claims were thus dismissed so that Plaintiff might bring his challenge in a mandamus or habeas action.
Count 5 against Defendant Haywood was allowed to proceed, but on February 17, 2012, that claim was dismissed on summary judgment (Doc. 92 in Haywood I ). Plaintiff timely appealed the judgment against him, and the appeal is currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where counsel has been appointed for Plaintiff (Appeal No. 12-1678).
In reference to the dismissal of Counts 1-4, which Plaintiff now seeks to revive, the Court's review of its orders has disclosed a clerical error. In the body of the merits review order, the Court stated that Counts 1-4 would be dismissed without prejudice (Doc. 12, p. 2, in Haywood I ). However, in the "Disposition" section of that order, Counts 1-4, as well as Defendants Collier, Rockwell, and Russell, were dismissed with prejudice (Doc. 12, p. 4, in Haywood I ). On December 10, 2010, though, in denying Plaintiff's motion to reconsider the threshold order (Doc. 14 in Haywood I ), the Court noted that the retaliation claims in Counts 1-4 had been dismissed without prejudice according to the Heck doctrine (Doc. 31, p. 3, in Haywood I ).
As a rule, a Heck -barred claim should be dismissed without prejudice, so that the Plaintiff may later revive it in the event he succeeds in invalidating the conviction or sentence. See Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 839 (7th Cir. 2011) (discussed in Gordon v. Miller, 2013 WL 4573682 (7th Cir. Aug. 29, 2013)). The Court's intention was to dismiss Counts 1-4 and Defendants Collier, Rockwell, and Russell without prejudice, to conform with this authority. Thus, the conflicting provision in the "Disposition" section of Doc. 12 in Haywood I should be disregarded. To clarify, the dismissal of these counts and Defendants in Case No. 09-cv-807-MJR-SCW was WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Plaintiff's Motion to Reinstate the Retaliation Claims (Doc. 3)
In this motion (which Plaintiff has titled "Petition for re-file/Continuation of current filing fee status & forma pauperis/App. of Counsel and Memorandum of Law"), Plaintiff states that on July 12, 2012, the IDOC restored his good conduct credits that had been revoked when he was found guilty of the disciplinary infraction that gave rise to his retaliation claims. He references documentation which he provided to the Court of Appeals confirming this fact (found in Doc. 41 in Appeal No. 12-1678 from the dismissal of Haywood I ). He argues that he should be allowed to reinstate the original retaliation claims against Defendants Rockwell, Hathaway, Collier, and Russell, and requests to add a retaliation claim against new Defendant Rick Odum. According to Plaintiff, his claim accrued with the restoration of the good conduct credits on July 12, 2012, when the Heck bar was lifted.
Without commenting on the ultimate merits of these retaliation claims, the Court agrees that they appear to no longer be barred by Heck. However, the claims shall proceed in this new action, not in Haywood I as Plaintiff would prefer. Contrary to Plaintiff's belief, requiring him to "file another case" would not "waste time" or "delay the resolution of these claims" (Doc. 3, p. 3). At this juncture, Haywood I is still on appeal, and this Court was divested of jurisdiction over that case as of the time Plaintiff filed his notice of appeal. "[A] federal district court and a federal court of appeals should not attempt to assert jurisdiction over a case simultaneously. The filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance - it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal." Kusay v. United States, 62 F.3d 192, 193 (7th Cir. 1995) (quoting Griggs v. Provident Consumer Disc. Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982)). "Just as the notice of appeal transfers jurisdiction to the court of appeals, so the mandate returns it to the district court. Until the mandate issues, the case is in' the court of appeals, and any action by the district court is a nullity." Kusay, 62 F.3d at 193 (citing United States v. Wells, 766 F.2d 12, 19 (1st Cir. 1985); Zaklama v. Mt. Sinai Med. Ctr., 906 F.2d 645, 649 (11th Cir. 1990). This Court thus does not have the authority at this time to "reinstate" the dismissed claims in Haywood I and allow Plaintiff to proceed on them in that case while his appeal remains pending.
Furthermore, Plaintiff's situation is distinguishable from that in Harris v. Ashby, No. 11-cv-3074, 2012 WL 2685033 (C.D. Ill. July 6, 2012), the non-precedential case he cites in support of his request to avoid filing a new case. Harris reiterates the general rule that when a claim has been dismissed without prejudice, it can only be resurrected by filing a new complaint, which necessarily involves the payment of another filing fee. Harris, 2012 WL 2685033 at *2 (citing United States v. Ligas, 549 F.3d 497, 503 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008) and Richmond v. Chater, 94 F.3d 263, 267 (7th Cir. 1996)). The Harris court concluded that an exception to that rule was warranted, because the plaintiff's good time was restored and the Heck bar removed while his motion to alter the judgment was still pending, thus the judgment had not yet become final. In contrast, Plaintiff herein did not have his good time restored until several months after this Court's final judgment was entered, and his case was already on ...