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Piette v. Hodge

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 6, 2014



J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Robert Piette, who is currently incarcerated at Cook County Jail in Cook County, Illinois, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). In the complaint, Plaintiff claims that officials at Lawrence Correctional Center wrongfully held him for sixty-six days past his mandatory supervised release date in 2013 (Doc. 1, pp. 6-13). This delay allegedly violated Plaintiff's right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and his right to due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. In connection with this allegedly excessive incarceration, Plaintiff now sues four Lawrence officials, including Marc Hodge (warden), Ms. Treadway (assistant warden), Janis Jokisch (records clerk), and Mr. Kittles (inmate counselor). He seeks compensatory and punitive damages (Doc. 1, p. 14).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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). After carefully considering the allegations, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint survives preliminary review.

The Complaint

Plaintiff alleges that he was held for sixty-six days beyond his mandatory supervised release date at Lawrence Correctional Center in 2013. He sues four Lawrence officials in connection with his claim of excessive incarceration (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff asserts that each official violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by keeping him in prolonged confinement (Doc. 1, p. 13).

According to the complaint, Plaintiff was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for unlawful possession of a controlled substance on February 26, 2009 (Doc. 1, p. 7). Although it is not altogether clear from the allegations in the complaint, it appears that this sentence was to run concurrent with Plaintiff's sentence for a residential burglary conviction and consecutive to another sentence that he was serving with the Arizona Department of Corrections (Doc. 1, pp. 7, 12). On June 24, 2011, the Arizona Department of Corrections released Plaintiff into the custody of the Dupage County Sheriff's Department, and one week later, Plaintiff transferred to the Illinois Department of Corrections to serve his remaining sentence.

Around June 30, 2011, Plaintiff reviewed his sentencing orders and noticed several errors. He immediately notified officials at Stateville Correctional Center, where he was temporarily detained. Stateville officials told Plaintiff that the errors would be corrected at his parent institution, Lawrence Correctional Center.

Once at Lawrence, Plaintiff began seeking correction of his sentencing order. Beginning in September 2011, he raised the issue with his sentencing judge, the Dupage County Public Defenders' Officer, Dupage County Clerk's Office, Lawrence's records office, and numerous Lawrence officials. These officials included Defendants Hodge (warden), Treadway (assistant warden), Jokisch (records law clerk), and Kittles (inmate counselor). Plaintiff met with these officials and spoke with them directly on multiple occasions about the errors in the sentencing order; he requested their assistance in correcting the errors. Each time, they failed to investigate the matter or provide a satisfactory response.

Without warning on February 26, 2013, Plaintiff received orders to return to his housing unit around 10:30 a.m. At the time, he was working in the prison barber shop. By 11:30 a.m., Plaintiff was on a bus to Indiana. Without warning, he had been released from confinement.

Plaintiff now claims that he worked with Lawrence officials for sixteen months to correct the error in his sentencing order. It appears that the sentencing court and Dupage County Clerk may have corrected the errors as early as October 2011 (Doc. 1, p. 12). However, Lawrence officials allegedly failed to investigate, discover, and/or acknowledge the amended sentencing order (Doc. 1, p. 12). Consequently, Plaintiff was subjected to unnecessarily prolonged confinement. He now seeks monetary damages from Defendants Hodge, Treadway, Jokisch, and Kittles.


After carefully considering the allegations, the Court finds that the complaint states claims, at this early stage, against Defendants Hodge, Treadway, Jokisch, and Kittles for excessive confinement under the Eighth Amendment (Count 1) and for denial of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment (Count 2). Plaintiff shall be allowed ...

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