United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court for a threshold review of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The amended pleading was filed at the direction of the Court, after Plaintiff's original complaint was dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim (Doc. 7). Under § 1915A, the Court is required to review the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.
Plaintiff's claims arose during his incarceration at Vienna Correctional Center ("Vienna"). His brief statement of claim states first that the John Doe Defendant Assignment Officer "should have been aware of [Plaintiff's] conditions"(Doc. 10, p. 5). He next alleges that Defendant Jeffers "forced" him to climb the steps to go to school, under threat of a disciplinary ticket, even though Plaintiff told her that he could not climb steps, showed her his permits for a bottom bunk and lower gallery, and informed her that he already had a GED and some college. Id. On the first day of school, two other inmates helped Plaintiff up the steps. Later, he fell down the steps and caught himself before he hit the bottom step. Finally, he states that Defendant Warden Hilliard is responsible for all the employees at Vienna, which includes the other Defendants.
Plaintiff notes that he wrote two grievances over his situation. As a result, he "was immediately removed from school and from climbing stairs" (Doc. 1, p. 4). He seeks monetary damages from all Defendants (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
As stated above, under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant. 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. 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 fully considering the allegations in the amended complaint, the Court concludes that this pleading also fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and the complaint shall be dismissed. Plaintiff was warned that if his amended complaint failed to state a claim, the entire case would be dismissed with prejudice to refiling (Doc. 7, p. 3). He also was advised that such a dismissal will count as a strike pursuant to § 1915(g).
In the original threshold order, the Court noted that the original complaint suggested three possible claims:
Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against any prison employee(s) who required Plaintiff to climb the stairs to attend class, despite their knowledge that he was unable to climb stairs and that doing so would place him at risk of bodily harm;
Count 2: Claim against the Illinois Department of Corrections or against a prison official in his/her official capacity under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12132;
Count 3: Claim against the Illinois Department of Corrections or against a prison official in his/her official capacity under the Rehabilitation Act ("RA"), 29 U.S.C. § 794.
(Doc. 7, p. 3). The amended complaint shall be examined within the framework of these potential claims; the statement of claim does not suggest any other potential constitutional violations.
Count 1 - Deliberate Indifference
The facts recited in the amended complaint point to only one Defendant who required Plaintiff to climb the stairs to attend class - Defendant Jeffers. Plaintiff states that he showed her his low-bunk and low-gallery permits and told her he could not climb steps. She thus had some information to indicate that Plaintiff could be at risk if he attempted to go up the stairs ...