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Malone v. Duvall

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 24, 2016

WILLIAM A. MALONE, Plaintiff,
v.
DUVALL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff William A. Malone, an inmate in Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action seeking monetary damages for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 2-2, p. 15). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(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 such relief.

         An 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 any reasonable person would find meritless. 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff's claims were originally filed in Case No. 16-cv-200-SMY. On August 29, 2016, that case underwent threshold review, and the Court determined that many of Plaintiff's claims failed to share a common nucleus of facts or parties. (Doc. 1). The Court thus severed that case into multiple actions, including this one.

         As relevant to the claim here, Plaintiff's complaint states that Duvall “denied religious services.” (Doc. 2, p. 6). At another part of the complaint, Plaintiff states that Duvall denied him access to religious services on July 30, 2015. (Doc. 2, p. 14). That is the extent of Plaintiff's allegations; Duvall is not mentioned in any of Plaintiff's seventy-five pages of exhibits.

         As previously noted in Case No. 16-cv-200-SMY, the claim severed into this action was designated Count Nine and was defined as follows:

         Count Nine: First Amendment claim against Defendant Duvall for denying Plaintiff access to religious services on July 30, 2015.

         The Seventh Circuit recognized years ago that “while freedom to believe is absolute, the exercise of religion is not . . . .” Childs v. Duckworth, 705 F.2d 915, 920 (7th Cir. 1983). The Seventh Circuit has also held that “prison officials may legitimately impose certain restrictions on the practice of religion in prison” where there is a compelling interest. Id. (citations omitted). Legitimate penological interests include the preservation of security in prison, as well as economic concerns. See Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 669 (7th Cir. 2009). When these concerns are raised as ...


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