United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
YANDLE, District Judge:
matter is before the Court for case management. In a
Memorandum and Order dated May 13, 2016 (Doc. 7), this Court
severed Counts 2, 3, and 4 of this action against Defendants
Minor, Qualls, and Payne into a separate
action. Remaining in this case is Count 1, which
the Court characterized as follows:
Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment due process
claim against Defendants Gondinez, Benton, Hill, Butler,
Simpson, Phister, and the Unknown Party Menard Grievance
Officer, for failing to properly handle or respond to
Plaintiff's grievances, and maintaining a policy whereby
inmate grievances are not properly documented or handled to
enable inmates to exhaust their administrative remedies;
specified in the severance order, the claim in Count 1 is now
subject to merits review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
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.
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 Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751
(7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's
Complaint, the Court concludes that Count 1 is subject to
summary dismissal under § 1915A, for failure to state a
constitutional claim upon which relief may be granted.
Complaint includes the following allegations as they relate
to the claims in Count 1: During Plaintiff's
incarceration at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”) from June 2014 to July 2015, he filed
a number of grievances over medical and other issues. Much of
the Complaint describes problems with prison officials'
handling of those grievances. These include the failure to
address Plaintiff's claims of deliberate indifference by
nurses to his broken hand, the refusal of law library staff
to give him copies of a grievance after he filed it (but
before a response was issued), having grievances returned to
him without an envelope so that officers named in the
grievance could read them, grievances being wrongly rejected
as having been filed too late, and the failure of officials
to respond at all to grievances (Doc. 1, pp. 5-7). Plaintiff
describes himself as a “known litigator” who is
familiar with the grievance process and the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (PLRA).
at Menard, Plaintiff was targeted by some officers for daily
shakedowns of his cell. Plaintiff filed grievances over the
shakedowns, but the grievance officer never answered his
complaints. In January 2015, Officer Minor allegedly used
excessive force against Plaintiff and issued a false
disciplinary report against him (these incidents are included
in the severed case, No. 16-cv-536). Plaintiff likewise never
got any response to his grievances over these matters (Doc.
1, pp. 9, 14). Plaintiff served time in segregation as a
result of the allegedly false disciplinary action. No
response was made to the grievances he filed while in
segregation. During that time, Plaintiff discussed the
grievance problem with Defendant Butler, and handed
grievances to Defendants Hill and Spiller, who did not
respond to them (Doc. 1, p. 13).
sent copies of the grievances to Defendant Benton of the ARB,
complaining that he was being “stonewalled” in
his attempts to use the grievance process. Defendant Benton
refused to investigate or address his complaints, and told
him he filed too many grievances. Plaintiff sent several
grievances over Defendant Benton's conduct directly to
the IDOC Director, but these communications were referred
back to Defendant Benton for a response (Doc. 1, p. 11).
Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center in
July 2015, he re-filed with Defendant Benton all the
grievances which had not been answered over incidents at
Menard. Defendant Benton rejected them as being filed outside
the proper time frame, even though, according to Plaintiff,
some of them were timely. Problems with processing
Plaintiff's grievances continued at Pontiac, where
Defendant Simpson wrongly declared most of his complaints as
being filed out of time frame (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff had
to wait for months for a response to a grievance he filed
with the Pontiac warden (presumably Defendant Phister).
Defendant Simpson (Pontiac grievance officer) failed to
respond to other grievances within the proper time.
asserts that the IDOC maintains an unwritten policy to have
its grievance officers harass and stonewall prisoners who,
like him, pursue grievances and litigation, in order to
frustrate inmate lawsuits by claiming that the prisoner has
failed to exhaust administrative remedies (Doc. 1, pp.
12-14). By refusing to assign tracking numbers to grievances,
counselors make it difficult for Plaintiff and others to show
that they filed their grievances in a timely manner.
seeks injunctive relief regarding proper tracking and
handling of inmate grievances, and seeks class action ...