United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
WILLIAM A. MALONE, # B-52858, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN PARTY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
William Malone, who is currently incarcerated at
Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”), filed a pro se civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that was
severed into nine separate cases pursuant to a Memorandum and
Order entered by the Court on August 29, 2016. See Malone
v. Lashbrook, et al., No. 16-cv-200-SMY (S.D. Ill. 2016)
(“original case”) (Doc. 1, instant case). The
instant case addresses a single claim asserted by Plaintiff
in his original complaint, i.e., Count 5 -
Plaintiff's claim that one or more unidentified
Pinckneyville officials denied him access to the prison law
library and/or the courts between November 2013 and January
2014 and in February and April 2015 (Doc. 1, p. 9, instant
case). In connection with this claim, Plaintiff seeks
compensatory and punitive damages.
is now subject to preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to
filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The Court must dismiss the newly-severed claim, if it 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). Count 5 does not survive preliminary review
under this standard and shall therefore be dismissed.
Plaintiff's complaint spans ninety pages, the statement
of claim consists of only two pages (Doc. 2, pp. 13-14).
There, Plaintiff lists numerous constitutional violations
that occurred at Pinckneyville between 2013 and 2015. In
connection with these claims, Plaintiff names more than
fifty-four defendants. The only allegations that pertain to
Plaintiff's access-to-courts claim are stated, in their
11/29/13 through 1/7/14 - No Library Access
2/14/15 - Admin. Forced Plaintiff to Slide On Buttock Up 2
Flight of Stairs to Receive Law Library or No Access. Broke
4/14/15 - Admin. Refused Plaintiff Access to Law Library
filed seventy-five pages of exhibits. Some of them may relate
to Plaintiff's access-to-courts claim. At this juncture,
the Court is unable to tell. Plaintiff did not refer to any
of these exhibits in his two-page statement of claim
have a constitutional right to access the courts. Love v.
Scaife, 586 F. App'x 234, 235-36 (7th Cir. 2014)
(citing Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821, 823
(1977); Lehn v. Holmes, 364 F.3d 862, 865-66 (7th
Cir. 2004)). Prison authorities are required to “assist
inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal
papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or
adequate assistance from persons trained in the law.”
Love, 586 F. App'x at 236 (citing
Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828). In some instances, the
denial of access to the prison's law library gives rise
to an access-to-courts claim. Wilks v. Rymarkiewicz,
No. 16-1371, 2016 WL 3964136 (7th Cir. July 22, 2016) (citing
Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 968-69 (7th Cir.
order to state a claim, Plaintiff must demonstrate that his
lack of access to the prison's law library caused him to
suffer an actual injury. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S.
343, 349 (1996); Devbrow v. Gallegos, 735 F.3d 584,
587 (7th Cir. 2013). In other words “the mere denial of
access to a prison law library or to other legal materials is
not itself a violation of a prisoner's rights; his right
is to access the courts, and only if the
defendants' conduct prejudices a potentially meritorious
challenge to the prisoner's conviction, sentence, or
conditions of confinement has this right been
infringed.” Marshall, 445 F.3d at 968. To
survive screening, the claim must be “described well
enough to apply the ‘nonfrivolous' test and to show
that the ‘arguable' nature of the underlying claim
is more than hope.” Love, 586 F. App'x at
236 (citing Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403,
416 (2002); Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 671 (7th
allegations offered in support of this claim are threadbare.
Plaintiff not only failed to describe the scope of the
deprivation (i.e. both frequency and duration), but
he also failed to identify a single legal claim that was lost
because he could not access the prison's law library.
Plaintiff did 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). A
claim is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that ...