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Lamon v. Stephens

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 30, 2014

ANDREW LAMON, No. R16056, Plaintiff,
v.
DOUG STEPHENS, SANDRA FUNK, and EDWARD W. HUNTLEY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Andrew Lamon, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on the alleged falsification of evidence and/or discovery materials in connection with another civil rights action pending in this district court, Lamon v. Schuler, Case No. 13-1129-JPG-PMF (S.D. Ill. filed Nov. 4, 2013).

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, attached documentation and referenced court records, Plaintiff Lamon filed suit in 2013, alleging that in retaliation for his litigation activities he was transferred from the minimum security Big Muddy River Correctional Center to Shawnee Correctional Center, which Lamon characterizes as a "disciplinary prison." See Lamon v. Schuler, Case No. 13-1129-JPG-PMF, Docs. 5, 30. Internal Affairs Officer Harold Schuler and Transfer Coordinator Sandra Funk are named as defendants in that action.

As part of discovery in Lamon v. Schuler, the May 2012 Security Reclassification/Escape Risk form, whereby Defendant Transfer Coordinator Sandra Funk overrode the facility assessment and raised Lamon's security level from minimum to medium, was produced in response to a request for production of documents directed at Internal Affairs Officer Schuler (Doc. 1, p. 47). The May 2012 document was also conveyed to Plaintiff by Special Litigation Counsel Edward W. Huntley in response to subpoenas issued to Transfer Coordinator Douglas Stephens and Transfer Coordinator Sandra Funk (Doc. 1, p. 55). However, the two copies of the document transmitted to Plaintiff are not identical. The document turned over in response to the request for production does not bear a rationale for Funk overriding the institutional security assessment; in contrast, the document sent by Transfer Coordinator Huntley lists a rationale code indicating that Funk had found "increased Security appropriate" ( compare Doc. 1, p. 45 and p. 55).

Rather than, for instance, move for a discovery sanction in Lamon v. Schuler, Lamon initiated this action against Transfer Coordinator Stephens, Transfer Coordinator Funk, and Special Litigation Counsel Huntley. It is alleged that, by falsifying the May 2012 Security Reclassification/Escape Risk form, Stephens, Funk and Huntley retaliated against Plaintiff for his litigation activity and attempted to deny him access to the Courts in violation of the First Amendment, and denied him due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks nominal and punitive damages, and for each defendant to be fined or imprisonment under the victim/witness tampering criminal statute.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into three counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Defendants Stephens, Funk and HuntLey denied Plaintiff Lamon access to the Courts in violation of the First Amendment;
Count 2: Defendants Stephens, Funk and Huntley retaliated against Plaintiff Lamon for his litigation activity in ...

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