United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. District Judge.
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
Plaintiff Emanuel Brooks's complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:
(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
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). Upon review of the
complaint, the Court finds that Brooks has not provided
enough information for the Court to commence with an adequate
review, and thus the complaint is being dismissed with an
opportunity to amend.
one-page complaint, Brooks makes numerous broad legal
allegations that he associates with September 24, 2015, at 9
a.m. at the Menard Correctional Center (Doc. 1 at 5).
Specifically he mentions a failure to protect and deliberate
indifference. He also lists the names of the three
defendants, Lt. Mich, Kenneth Donnals, and Kim Butler
(Id.). However, he does not provide any facts
tending to show a connection between the named defendants and
the proffered legal theories (Id.). In addition to
the brief written statement of his claim, Brooks appended a
handful of grievances to his complaint, purporting to support
his allegations of failure to protect and deliberate
indifference (Doc. 1 at 7-9). In connection with his claims,
Brooks seeks monetary compensation and screening for H.I.V.
or hepatitis C (Doc. 1 at 6).
the complaint, Brooks fails to allege any facts or state any
claim explicitly linking the named defendants to the two
harms he identifies. The reason that plaintiffs, even those
proceeding pro se, for whom the Court is required to
liberally construe their complaints, see Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), are required to
associate specific defendants with specific claims is so
these defendants are put on notice of the claims brought
against them and so they can properly answer the complaint.
See Hoskins v. Poelstra, 320 F.3d 761, 764 (7th Cir.
2003) (a “short and plain” statement of the claim
suffices under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 if it notifies the defendant of
the principal events upon which the claims are based);
Brokaw v. Mercer County, 235 F.3d 1000, 1014 (7th
Cir. 2000) (notice pleading requires the plaintiff to allege
just enough to put the defendant on notice of facts providing
a right to recovery).
to the Supreme Court, the threshold pleading requirement of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires a complaint allege
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face” in order to survive a
Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim
for which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (1955). (clarifying that a
“heightened fact pleading of specifics” is not
required) (emphasis added). In other words, the Supreme Court
explained it was “a plaintiff's obligation to
provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief'” by providing “more than labels
and conclusions, ” because “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do .
. . .” Id. at 555 (alteration in original).
The plaintiff must plead factual allegations which show the
right to relief exists beyond mere speculation by
“rais[ing] a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence” to substantiate the
plaintiff's claims. Id. Thus, the Seventh
Circuit has interpreted Bell as imposing a
two-tiered requirement for a complaint to survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion: (1) it “must describe the claim in
sufficient detail to give the defendant ‘fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,
” and (2) the “allegations must plausibly suggest
that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising the
possibility above a ‘speculative level.'”
E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d
773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Bell, 550 U.S. at
573). Furthermore, merely invoking the name of a potential
defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that
individual. Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334
(7th Cir. 1998) (“A plaintiff cannot state a claim
against a defendant by including the defendant's name in
complaint contains minimal factual information with regard to
two potential harms of failure to protect and deliberate
indifference. None of the named defendants are tied to these
claims with particularity. As a general rule, section 1983
creates a cause of action based on personal liability, so to
plead a claim under section 1983 a plaintiff must identify
actions by an individual that violate his constitutional
rights. See Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d
805, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (“to be liable under [Section]
1983, an individual defendant must have caused or
participated in a constitutional deprivation”). Though
Brooks may be able to tie specific defendants to
specific conduct that caused him harm, he simply has not done
so in his initial complaint as drafted. Accordingly,
Brooks's complaint is subject to dismissal. Rather than
dismiss the entire action, however, the Court will allow
Brooks an opportunity to correct the deficiencies through an
amended complaint. In drafting his amended complaint, should
he choose to do so, Brooks should avoid using conclusory
language and vague allegations of fact. Rather, he should
follow the instructions on the Court's complaint form,
which directs a plaintiff to state “when, where, how,
and by whom” his rights were violated. While Brooks may
attach exhibits to his complaint, he may not rely on exhibits
alone to satisfy his obligations; instead, he must include
sufficient factual detail in his actual complaint so that
defendants can respond.