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Ajaj v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 25, 2014

AHMAD M. AJAJ, No. 40637-054, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, BUREAU OF PRISONS, WENDY J. ROAL, LISA J.W. HOLLINGSWORTH, MELISSA WINN, JEFF BANEY, JOHN PARENT, BLAKE R. DAVIS, ROBERT ROLOFF, PAUL SCOFIELD, PAUL HARVEY, KEITH HARRISON, JEFFREY IRVIN, MILTON NEUMANN, G. FOZZARD, DAVID SZOKE, HENRY RIVAS, STEVEN CARDONA, BASHAR MURAD, JEFFRERY D. ALLEN, MARLA PETERSON, E. ALEXANDER, M. WINKLMEIER, STEVE JULIAN, BRADFORD, NEWTON E. KENDIG, LUKE M. ORMANDY, LAWRENCE HOWARD, and MAC McCLEARY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ahmad M. Ajaj is an inmate in the United States Penitentiary at Florence, Colorado. He brings this action seeking redress for a variety of incidents that occurred to him while he was housed in the Communication Management Unit of the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, which is within 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

The 175-page complaint is brought against 29 defendants, including the United States, the Bureau of Prisons, numerous officials within the Bureau and USP-Marion, healthcare officials, a correctional officer, and a contract Imam.

In broad terms, Plaintiff Ajaj alleges: (1) he was denied the right to freely practice his Muslim religion at USP-Marion; (2) excessive force was used against him; (3) he was disciplined for minor infractions - even "legal" behavior - because he is Muslim; (4) his transfer from USP-Marion to USP-Florence-AdMax was unjustified; and (5) those making the decision to transfer him were aware of his many medical ailments, yet he was transferred to a facility that cannot offer him the environment and care he requires. Each of those broad categories includes multiple subclaims.

Plaintiff pursues claims under the Constitution in accord with Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). He also relies upon the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680; the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-06; the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc et seq. ; the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("IRFRA"), 775 ILCS 35/1 et seq. ; the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq. ; and the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, which confers jurisdiction over "any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States."

Discussion

A preliminary review of the complaint raises two immediate and related concerns: its length and breadth. Although neither is fatal, for the reasons that follow, Plaintiff Ajaj will be given an opportunity to reconsider how he desires to proceed, ...


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