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Minter v. Godinez

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

February 2, 2015

MARLON MINTER, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
SALVADOR GODINEZ, et al., Defendants.

MERIT REVIEW ORDER

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court for a merit review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, of Plaintiff Marlon Minter, Sr.'s claims.

I.

MERIT REVIEW UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A)

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, the Court is required to carefully screen a complaint filed by a plaintiff who seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or a portion thereof, if the plaintiff has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. The test for determining if an action is frivolous or without merit is whether the plaintiff can make a rational argument on the law or facts in support of the claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief if the complaint does not allege "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); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). Conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8; Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)(holding that, in order to determine if a complaint states a plausible claim, the court must take non-conclusory, non-speculative facts as true, draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor, and isolate and ignore statements that simply rehash claim elements or offer only legal labels and conclusions). Instead, sufficient facts must be provided to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(internal quotation omitted).

II.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff Marlon Minter, Sr., has filed the instant Amended Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), Salvador Godinez, and Randy Pfister have violated his Constitutional rights. Minter has also filed a motion asking the Court to certify this case as a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.

Minter's Complaint fails to state a claim against the IDOC. The IDOC cannot be sued under § 1983 because it is not a "person" within the meaning of that statute. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58. Accordingly, Minter's claims against the IDOC are dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Grund v. Indiana Dept. of Correction, 2014 WL 3900620, * 2 (S.D. Ind. Aug. 11, 2014).

Likewise, Minter's Complaint against Salvador Godinez is dismissed for failure to state a claim against him. "[I]ndividual liability under § 1983 requires personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation.'" Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2010)(quoting Palmer v. Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2003)).

The Seventh Circuit has explained that the doctrine of respondeat superior -a doctrine whereby a supervisor may be held liable for an employee's actions-has no application to § 1983 actions. Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 622 (7th Cir. 2010). Instead, in order for a supervisor to be held liable under § 1983 for the actions of his subordinates, the supervisor must "approve[] of the conduct and the basis for it." Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001); Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995)("An official satisfies the personal responsibility requirement of section 1983... if the conduct causing the constitutional deprivation occurs at [his] direction or with [his] knowledge and consent.")(internal quotation omitted).

"[S]upervisors must know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye for fear of what they might see. They must in other words act either knowingly or with deliberate, reckless indifference." Backes v. Village of Peoria Heights, Illinois, 662 F.3d 866, 870 (7th Cir. 2011)(quoting Chavez, 251 F.3d at 651)). "In short, some causal connection or affirmative link between the action complained about and the official sued is necessary for § 1983 recovery." Gentry, 65 F.3d at 561.

Here, Minter has named Godinez as a party Defendant merely because he is the director of the IDOC. Minter has not alleged that Godinez personally engaged in or turned a blind eye towards any of the actions or inactions that form the basis for his Amended Complaint. Accordingly, Minter's Complaint fails to state a claim against Godinez because Godinez lacks the personal involvement necessary to hold him liable under § 1983.

However, Minter's Amended Complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted against Defendant Randy Pfister, the Warden at the Pontiac Correctional Center where Minter is housed, for violating his Eighth Amendment rights based upon the conditions of his confinement. The United States Supreme Court has made clear that "[t]he Eighth Amendment does not outlaw cruel and unusual conditions;' it outlaws cruel and unusual punishments.'" Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). This means that "an official's failure to alleviate a significant risk ...


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