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Basemore v. Brookman

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 5, 2016




         Plaintiff, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Menard Correctional Center. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief for violations of his constitutional rights that arose when Plaintiff was issued an allegedly false disciplinary ticket and disciplined without due process. 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.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         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). 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, 677 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, 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. However, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Service, 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         On March 2, 2015, there was an incident on the recreational yard at Menard Correctional Center where Plaintiff was then incarcerated. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Multiple offenders participated in an altercation. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff alleges that he was not seen participating on any cameras recording the incident. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Internal affairs interviewed Plaintiff and he told Ward he lacked any knowledge of the incident. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff’s disciplinary report indicates that he had a black eye at the time of the interview. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Ward charged Plaintiff with impeding the investigation, dangerous disturbances and fighting. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He was found not guilty of impeding the investigation and guilty on the other two charges. (Doc. 1, p. 7). The adjustment committee did not rely on any witness or confidential informant testimony in finding Plaintiff guilty. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Kent Brookman and Michael Keys made up the adjustment committee that found Plaintiff guilty and Butler signed off on the disposition. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Ultimately, the ticket was overturned for failure to follow due process guidelines. (Doc. 1, p. 9). As a result of the ticket, Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center, where he was exposed to urine and feces, 24 hour noise, mold and spoiled food. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide Plaintiff’s pro se action into two counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The following claim survives threshold review

COUNT 1: Brookman, Keys, and Butler violated Plaintiff’s due process rights when they found him guilty of a disciplinary infraction on March 28, 2015

         Plaintiff’s Complaint contains another claim, but for the reasons explained below, this Count does not survive threshold review and will be DISMISSED with prejudice.

COUNT 2: Ward violated Plaintiff’s due process rights by failing to adequately investigate the altercation that formed the ...

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