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Thompson v. Roeckeman

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 9, 2015




Plaintiff Dion Thompson is an inmate currently housed in Big Muddy River Correctional Center. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff brings this action with respect to the imposition of disciplinary restrictions and the conditions of his confinement during the disciplinary period.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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). 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, Plaintiff received a disciplinary report for disobeying a direct order and refusing a housing assignment. Defendants Michael Sanders and Ventures J. Jackson comprised the Adjustment Committee presiding over the disciplinary proceedings. Plaintiff pleaded guilty to the charge (see Doc. 1, pp. 5, 9). As discipline, he was placed in segregation for three days, demoted to C Grade for one month, and had his day room, commissary, audiovisual, and gym/yard privileges restricted for one month (Doc. 1, p. 9). Warden Zachary Roeckeman concurred with the disciple meted out by the Adjustment Committee (Doc. 1, p. 10).

While “on confinement” and restricted from the day room, plaintiff, who suffers seizures, was not allowed to shower or exercise outside of his cell, visual checks were not performed, and his “confinement exceeded 7 consecutive days of 15 days in a 30-day period” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Also, medical staff was not made aware of his confinement.

Plaintiff alleges that all three defendants, Warden Roeckeman and Adjustment Committee members Sanders and Jackson: (1) imposed disciplinary restrictions without following “20 Ill. Admin. Codes of ‘Placement Confinement;’” and (2) subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 5). Compensatory and punitive damages are sought (Doc. 1, p. 6). The Court designates these claims as “Count 1” and “Count 2, ” respectively.


For the reasons that follow, as pleaded, all claims-Counts 1 and 2-fail to state a colorable constitutional claim.

Any failure of the Adjustment Committee and Warden Roeckeman to follow a state law or regulation, by itself, does not violate the Constitution and is, therefore, not actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 119 (1992); Scott v. Edinburg, 346 F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 2003). Similarly, imposing three days of segregation and the other restrictions on privileges for 30 days, does not, in and of itself, constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Not only are the time periods brief, but the restrictions themselves do not deprive Plaintiff of the “minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities, ” such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or safety. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981).

With respect to the conditions of confinement during the 30-day disciplinary period, the complaint does not suggest that any of the three named defendants were personally involved in imposing the particular conditions, and the respondeat superior doctrine (supervisory liability) is not applicable in a Section 1983 action. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009); Wagoner v. Lemmon, 778 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 2015).

Dismissal of the complaint shall be without prejudice, and Plaintiff will be granted an ...

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