United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
Kenneth Butusov, Plaintiff, Pro Se.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE, District Judge.
Kenneth Butusov, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Sheridan Correctional Center ("Sheridan"), brings
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983 (Doc.
1) for constitutional deprivations that occurred at Lawrence
Correctional Center ("Lawrence") in 2014-15 (Doc.
1, pp. 7-9). In the Complaint, Plaintiff claims that
officials in the Illinois Department of Corrections
("IDOC") systematically mishandled his grievances,
in violation of his right to use the IDOC's grievance
process to exhaust his administrative remedies and access the
courts. Plaintiff's Complaint focuses on the conduct of
Counselor Ray, a grievance counselor at Lawrence who ignored
numerous grievances that Plaintiff filed over the course of
seven months ( id. at 7). When Plaintiff complained,
Counselor Ray told him not to expect any responses because
the counselor had no time for "grievances or staff
conduct or bullshit'" ( id. ).
Ray's refusal to address Plaintiff's grievances
became the focus of Plaintiff's subsequent complaints and
the instant lawsuit. Plaintiff sent Warden Duncan an
emergency grievance to complain about the fact that Counselor
Ray routinely ignored his grievances. Warden Duncan denied
the emergency grievance and instructed Plaintiff to send it
through normal channels.
doing so, Plaintiff spoke with Assistant Warden Treadway
about Counselor Ray's conduct ( id. at 8). She
contacted Counselor Ray and asked him to explain why he would
not respond to Plaintiff's grievances. Following this
conversation, the assistant warden instructed Plaintiff to
resubmit all of his grievances. Plaintiff did so, but nothing
prepared a formal grievance to complain about Lawrence's
corrupt grievance process. He first submitted the grievance
to an unknown grievance officer but received no response.
Next, Plaintiff sent a copy of the grievance to the
Administrative Review Board in Springfield, Illinois. Leslie
McCarthy denied the grievance as untimely ( id. at
9). On February 26, 2016, Plaintiff directed one final
grievance to IDOC Director Baldwin but, again, received no
Complaint, Plaintiff now claims that the routine mishandling
of his grievances by IDOC officials violated his right to use
the IDOC's internal grievance process and his right to
access the courts. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff
now sues the following IDOC officials: Director Baldwin,
Leslie McCarthy, Warden Duncan, Assistant Warden Treadway,
Counselor Ray, and the unknown grievance officer. Plaintiff
seeks monetary damages.
Review Under 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915A
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915A. Under Â§ 1915A, the
Court is required to promptly screen prisoner Complaints to
filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915A(a). 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. Â§ 1915A(b).
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). 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 carefully considering the
allegations, the Court finds that the Complaint does not
survive review under Â§ 1915A and shall therefore be
on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se Complaint into the
following 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
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion
regarding their merit.
Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against
Defendants for interfering with Plaintiff's efforts to
exhaust his administrative remedies within the ...