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Engram-Bey v. Catt

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 11, 2014

RONALD ENGRAM-BEY, No. B09354, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGELA CATT, DANA TYLKA, JANE DOE, and JOHN DOE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ronald Engram-Bey, an inmate in Jacksonville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on a series of incidents that occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Robinson Correctional Center, which is located in this judicial district.

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). 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).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Assistant Warden Tylka and C/O Catt informed Plaintiff that a sermon that had been mailed to him was not allowed under prison regulations and would be returned to the sender. Rather than simply return the sermon, Catt kept the original and returned a copy of the document. Plaintiff contends that there was no reason for the sermon to be copied, prison regulations do not authorize such a procedure, and Catt should not have kept the sermon for her own or other purposes.

Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding how C/O Catt had handled his mail. He was subsequently approached by Assistant Warden Tylka, who said he wanted to speak with Plaintiff. Plaintiff followed Tylka into the control room, but he balked when Tylka proceeded into "the dog room"-the room reserved for dogs (presumably search dogs). When Plaintiff did not want to go into the dog room, Tylka loudly announced, "I don't give a sh**, you want to act like a f***ing convict then I'm going to treat your ass like one." (Doc. 1, p. 8). After Plaintiff went into the room, Tylka then subjected him to an "obnoxious tirade" regarding how wrong Plaintiff was for lodging a grievance against C/O Catt regarding the mail incident. Plaintiff was frightened and shocked, and he characterized Tylka's comments as retaliation and intimidation. Plaintiff asserts that he does not feel safe and he fears what Tylka will do next. Plaintiff also alleges that Tylka violated Illinois Department of Corrections' rules and regulations. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding Assistant Warden Tylka's "interference."

Gina Allen of the Administrative Review Board ("ARB") sent Plaintiff a notice, letter and grievance. According to Plaintiff, it is the custom of the ARB to send correspondence as confidential, privileged mail-meaning that, pursuant to prison rules and procedures, the mail is opened and inspected in the presence of the inmate. Instead, the correspondence from the ARB was somehow routed to the Clinical Services office and then transmitted to Plaintiff in a Robinson Correctional Center envelope marked "Confidential C.S." (Doc. 1, p. 11). According to documentation attached to the complaint, prison personnel explained that when multiple grievances are sent in a single envelope, the mail is sent to the Clinical Services office, where each inmate's mail is placed in an envelope for delivery, marked confidential ( see Doc. 1-1, p. 12). Plaintiff contends that his mail should never have been handled by Clinical Services because it was sent from Gina Allen, a member of the ARB ( see Doc. 1, p. 11).

Plaintiff generally alleges that C/O Catt and Assistant Warden Tylka each violated his constitutional rights, and that Catt and Tylka, along with Jane Doe and John Doe, are responsible for violating his constitutional rights with respect to reading his "in/out going mail" (Doc. 1, p. 12). C/O Catt and Assistant Warden Tylka purportedly had an official policy or custom of condoning the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. It is further alleged that all four defendants acted in concert to deny Plaintiff's constitutional rights-acting deliberately, knowingly, unreasonably and in bad faith with respect to how Plaintiff's mail was handled ( see Doc. 1, p. 13).

Lastly, the complaint takes issue with Plaintiff having to "send letters" to Catt and Tylka in order to exhaust administrative remedies, suggesting that the Illinois Department of Corrections is acting in concert with them to deny Plaintiff's constitutional rights and leave him without a remedy in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment ( see Doc. 1, pp. 13-14).

Plaintiff seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction ensuring Defendants will not violate his constitutional rights, declaratory judgment, as well as compensatory ...


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