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Thomass v. Splittorff

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 8, 2016

FRANK THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH SPLITTORFF, BOST, LAKIN, ROBERT A. HOLLENBECK, ROBERT BLANKENSHIP, and VALERIE BASSETT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Frank Thomas brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 concerning events that allegedly occurred while he was a pretrial detainee at the Madison County Jail. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review 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.

         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). 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).

         This is not Plaintiff’s first bite at the apple. Plaintiff originally filed his complaint on September 4, 2015. The Court dismissed that complaint on October 5, 2015, for failure to state a claim and directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint no later than November 2, 2015. (Doc. 6). Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on October 21, 2015, along with a motion seeking leave to file it. (see Docs. 9, 10). As the Court previously directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, and the amended complaint has been filed on the docket, Plaintiff’s motion seeking leave to file is moot.

         Also, after reviewing records from the Illinois Department of Corrections, it appears that Plaintiff has been transferred to Robinson Correctional Center as of January 8, 2016. Although previously directed to keep the Court informed of his whereabouts, Plaintiff has not filed a notice of change of address. Plaintiff is once again reminded of his obligation to keep the Court informed of his current address. Also, Plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief regarding certain Madison County Jail policies are now moot because he is no longer subject to those policies, and those claims will not be addressed further.

         Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are severable.

         The Amended Complaint

         Although initially Plaintiff attempted to bring claims on behalf of both himself and his adult daughter, the amended complaint lists only Frank Thomas in the case caption. (Doc. 10, p. 1). The Court takes that to mean that Thomas is now bringing claims only on his own behalf.

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 27, 2015, detectives with the Alton police department, including Splittorff, arrested Plaintiff and his daughter, Rashonda Barnes without a proper warrant. (Doc. 10, p. 1, 7). Plaintiff alleges that the Alton police acted without warrants and improperly coerced Plaintiff and Barnes into making statements without Miranda warnings, in violation of their constitutional rights. (Doc. 10, p. 1). Plaintiff alleges he told Splittorff twice that he did not want to speak, but that Splittorff continued to ask him questions anyway. (Doc. 10, p. 4). Splittorff also allegedly coerced Plaintiff into confessing by threatening to put charges on his daughter if he did not confess. (Doc. 10, p. 7). Plaintiff also alleges that his personal property was searched and confiscated in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Doc. 10, p. 1).

         Plaintiff was eventually transferred to the Madison County Jail. (Doc. 10, p. 1). While at the jail, Plaintiff alleges that Bost denied him access to legal materials and the lack of access interfered with his ability to prepare his defense along with his appointed attorney. (Doc. 10, p. 1; Doc. 10-2, p.1). Along with access, Bost also denied Plaintiff paper, stamps, envelops, and free copies. (Doc. 10, p. 2, Doc. 10-2, p. 1). Hollenbeck also refused to notarize Plaintiff’s ...


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