United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge
Frank Thomas, a pretrial detainee at the Madison County Jail
in Illinois, brings this pro se action for alleged
violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 (Doc. 2). The sole claim in this case was severed
from Thomas's original complaint, filed in Case No.
15-cv-00988-NJR-DGW. This case is now before the Court for
preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Thomas alleges that Defendant Reichert violated
his First Amendment rights and acted in retaliation by
shaking down his cell, seizing some of his property, and
punishing him with 48 hours in segregation.
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must 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. § 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). 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 Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d
742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
these standards, the Court finds that Thomas's claims
against Defendant Reichert are insufficient to proceed beyond
the screening phase at this juncture.
to his complaint, Thomas included an affidavit wherein he
alleged acts of retaliation taken by Defendant Reichert (Doc.
2-3 at 3). Specifically, Thomas indicated that he and
Reichert engaged in a verbal confrontation that included
cussing (Id.). Following the confrontation, Reichert
shook down his cell, seized some of his personal property,
and assessed 48 hours of lockdown (Id.). Thomas
alleges that these consequences were retaliatory
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
Court is using the same designation of counts set forth in
its previous severance order, thus the pertinent count is:
Count 7: Reichert retaliated against
plaintiff for cursing and using profanity by shaking down his
cell in October 2015.
prison context, where an inmate is alleging retaliation, it
is not enough to simply state the cause of action. The inmate
must identify the reasons that retaliation has been taken, as
well as “the act or acts claimed to have constituted
retaliation, ” so as to put those charged with the
retaliation on notice of the claim(s). Higgs v.
Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002). As stated
above, the inmate need not plead facts to establish the claim
beyond doubt, but need only provide the bare essentials of
the claim, and in a claim for retaliation the reason for the
retaliation and the acts taken in an effort to retaliate
expressing any opinion on the merits of Thomas's
allegations about his interaction with Reichert, this Court
finds that it is appropriate to dismiss Count 7 against
Reichert because Thomas failed to list Reichert as a
defendant in the caption of the case or the list of
defendants. See Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d
551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (for an individual to be
considered a party he must be specified in the caption). If
Thomas wishes to bring a retaliation claim against defendant
Reichert, he will need to amend his complaint consistent with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. Rule 15 permits amendment
one time “as a matter of course” within “21
days after serving it” or, “if the pleading is
one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after
service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of
a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is
earlier.” The Court expresses no opinion as to the
merits of such a claim.