United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MARLON L. WATFORD, # R-15678, Plaintiff,
OFFICER ELLIS, BRAD BRAMLET, TONYA KNUST, and LACY REAM, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
action is before the Court for case management. On May 25,
2016, following the Memorandum and Order entered in
Watford v. Wooley, et al., Case No.
15-cv-567-MJR-SCW (Doc. 1 in the instant case), this matter
was severed from the original civil rights action brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case consists of the
claim designated as Count 3 in the Second Amended Complaint
(Doc. 2) and described in Doc. 1 as follows:
3: Ellis, Bramlet, Knust, and Ream violated the
First Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and RLUIPA when Watford
was prohibited from using the bathroom in the law library.
incident occurred on or about August 23, 2013, while
Plaintiff was confined at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”) (Doc. 2). Plaintiff was recently
transferred to Stateville Correctional Center (Doc. 7).
portion of the complaint supporting Count 3 is now before the
Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A. Under § 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.
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 a portion of the claim
in Count 3 survives threshold review under § 1915A.
Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 2)
claims that his constitutional and statutory rights were
violated when Defendant Correctional Officer Ellis prohibited
him from using the law library bathroom (Doc. 2, pp. 6-7).
Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from irritable bowel
syndrome and Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori) and so is
forced to use restroom facilities frequently (Doc. 2, p. 7).
Despite this fact, Defendant Ellis did not allow Plaintiff to
use the library restroom on August 23, 2013. Defendant
Correctional Officers Bramlet, Knust, and Ream were all
present at the time, but failed to intervene on
Plaintiff's behalf. Plaintiff experienced pain and
aggravation of his irritable bowel syndrome as a result of
being unable to relieve himself. He filed a grievance, and at
some point was told that he could use the restroom “as
soon as it was safe by security standards to do so.”
(Doc. 2, p. 6).
is a member of the Al-Islam faith. According to Plaintiff, a
tenet of that faith is the belief that Plaintiff's body
is “a gift from his Lord to hold in trust during this
life. He has a spiritual obligation to maintain his body and
keep it free from strains.” (Doc. 2, p. 7). Plaintiff
claims that Defendants' actions which prevented his
access to the restroom caused him to violate this religious
seeks monetary damages for the violation of his rights (Doc.
2, p. 7).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
claim that Defendants refused to allow Plaintiff to use the
bathroom in the law library implicates three potential
federal claims: alleged violations of the Eighth Amendment,
the First Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). Each of these shall be examined in