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Jones v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 29, 2014

GREGORY D. JONES, No. K75759, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Gregory D. Jones, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on perceived threats to his life and the failure of prison officials to ensure his safety (Doc. 1). Jones has simultaneously filed a motion for "Mandatory Preliminary Injunction" (Doc. 2).

This case is now before the Court for consideration of the motion for injunctive relief and 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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Synopsis of the Complaint and Motion for Injunctive Relief

According to the complaint, Plaintiff Jones, who had previously been housed at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), was transferred back to Menard on March 5, 2014, despite "IDOC's inmate issues and transfer coordinators" being aware that Menard staff had made "threats" against Plaintiff (Doc. 1, p. 5). Upon arrival, Plaintiff's requested protective custody was denied, and he never received a response to an emergency grievance. Plaintiff's television was broken and his property stolen (presumably in transport)-by whom or why is not stated. On April 6, 2014, Plaintiff was slapped, kicked, and identified as a "snitch" by Tactical Team officers, none of whom are listed as defendants. Plaintiff was not permitted to see a doctor after the April 6 incident, but there is no indication who made that decision. Then, in June 2014, Plaintiff was housed among gang members who had threatened him, and Plaintiff feared for his life. Plaintiff's request for protective custody was ignored for three days, after which he was placed in protective custody. A counselor informed Plaintiff that he could not be transferred. Plaintiff contends that he has been subjected to deliberate indifference and that officials have failed to protect him and retaliated against him. Plaintiff seeks an immediate and permanent transfer from Menard and an award of costs against "Menard/IDOC" (Doc. 1, p. 6).[1]

Plaintiff's motion for "Mandatory Injunction" (Doc. 2) references multiple individuals by name-some, but not all, are named defendants to the complaint. Events at Menard, as well as events that occurred at Pontiac and Stateville Correctional Centers, are discussed in the motion. The motion fills in many of the gaps in the narrative of the complaint. For example, the bald reference to retaliation in the complaint apparently stems from Plaintiff testifying in two cases against Menard staff. Plaintiff's concern about being housed with gang members is because he was convicted of killing a "P-Stone Mo, " and there were many "Mos" on his gallery at Menard. The motion also goes on at length about issues that are not raised in the complaint, such as the restrictions Plaintiff faces in protective custody, including not having his personal property, which is permitted in protective custody at Stateville Correctional Center.


The Complaint

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that "[a] civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court." FED.R.CIV.P. 3. In other words, "the first step in the action is the filing of the complaint." Id. (Advisory Committee Notes, 1937 Adoption). Without a complaint, the Court cannot ascertain the basis for jurisdiction. See Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 681-82 (1946); Greater Chicago Combine and Center, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 431 F.3d 1065, 1069-70 (7th Cir. ...

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