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Price v. Rednour

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 25, 2016

JOSEPH PRICE, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Joseph Price, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks nominal damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. He also seeks a preliminary injunction. (Doc. 2). 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; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         As an initial matter, the Court notes that Plaintiff has stated that he “has no previous litigation history.” (Doc. 1, p. 3). A review of public records reveals, however, that Plaintiff does have a prior litigation history: he was a named Plaintiff in Case No. 96-cv-299-WDS (S.D. Ill. February 9, 2000); and he pursued a habeas action in the Northern District of Illinois, 07-cv-50111, which he later appealed to the Seventh Circuit, No. 08-1401. It appears that none of these cases was dismissed as frivolous, and that Plaintiff was not assessed a strike by any court. The Court declines to take up the matter of this discrepancy at this time, although it may see fit to do so later.

         Prior to the events at issue here, Plaintiff had been incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, an institution solely for inmates in protective custody (“P.C.”). (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff was transferred to Menard Correctional Center on February 19, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff was initially housed on intake P.C. status, but was told that he would have to begin the process again if he wanted to stay on P.C. (Doc. 1, p. 3).

         On February 22, 2016, Plaintiff met with Defendants Cowan and John Doe #2 and explained to them why he needed P.C. placement at Menard. (Doc. 1, p. 3-4). Plaintiff told Cowan and Doe #2 that he had saved the life of Counselor Farris in 1984, thus drawing the ire of the gang that attacked her. (Doc. 1, p. 4). He also explained that he had worked as an informant for the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau when he was out on the street. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff raised his various medical issues, including limited sight and hearing, chronic pain from an old gunshot wound, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff believes that his medical issues make it impossible for him to physical defend himself if attacked. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff also told Cowan and Doe #2 that the Black Souls gang had a hit on him and that another inmate, Spivey, a/k/a “Mississippi, ” had told Plaintiff that Plaintiff had not been forgotten by Spivey or the Black Souls gang. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Despite this information, Cowan and Doe #2 recommended that Plaintiff's request for protective custody be denied, and Kimberly Butler, the warden at Menard at the time, concurred in the denial. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         Plaintiff then appealed the issue to the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”). (Doc. 1, p. 4). On April 27, 2016, Plaintiff had a telephone conference with ARB chairperson Debbie Knaur. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Jason Rednour was also present, but he did not participate in the proceedings. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff raised the same issues with Knaur that he had previously raised, including the incident with Farris and his work for the ATF Bureau. (Doc. 1, p. 5). The ARB denied Plaintiff's appeal the same day. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Plaintiff was then transferred from P.C. to the North 2 cell house on 1 gallery at Menard. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Rednour worked on that gallery, and Plaintiff observed him talking to other officers and inmates about what Plaintiff had said during his telephone call with the ARB (Doc. 1, p. 5). Rednour specifically identified Plaintiff to staff and inmates as a stool pigeon and made fun of him because of his hearing difficulties. (Doc. 1, p. 6). As a result of these comments, other inmates have ...

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