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Winston v. Price

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 31, 2016

AIRON WINSTON, # M-55556, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN ROBERT PRICE and C/O CRAIG, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. Chief District Judge.

         This matter is now before the Court for consideration of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 12) filed by Plaintiff Airon Winston. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”). He brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his rights at the Illinois Youth Center located in Harrisburg, Illinois (“IYC-Harrisburg”). While awaiting trial on domestic battery charges at IYC-Harrisburg, Plaintiff claims that he was sexually harassed by an unnamed officer (Doc. 12, p. 5). He does not name this individual as a defendant. Instead, Plaintiff names Warden Price and C/O Craig for failing to protect him from the unnamed officer. Plaintiff alleges that the superintendent[1] ordered C/O Craig to investigate the matter. However, Plaintiff was not satisfied with the results of the investigation; no disciplinary action was taken against the unnamed officer, and no action was taken to separate Plaintiff from him. This caused Plaintiff so much distress that he pleaded guilty to the domestic battery charge. He now seeks immediate release from custody and monetary relief against Warden Price and C/O Craig (id.).

         Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 12) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints, including amendments thereto, to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the First Amended 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. § 1915A(b).

         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). 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 Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). The First Amended Complaint does not survive review under § 1915A and shall be dismissed.

         First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff did not prepare a statement of claim for his First Amended Complaint. He included a one-page excerpt from the Court's Dismissal Order that summarizes the factual allegations in his original Complaint (see Doc. 10, p. 2; Doc. 12, p. 5). Apparently pleased with the summary, Plaintiff now adopts it as his statement of claim in the First Amended Complaint. The excerpt states:

As a juvenile, Plaintiff was convicted of robbery. He served his sentence at Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg, Illinois (“IYC-Harrisburg”). While on parole, he was arrested and charged with domestic battery. Plaintiff's parole was revoked, and he returned to IYC-Harrisburg to await trial on the new charge.
Plaintiff fully intended to challenge the domestic battery charge. However, an incident at IYC-Harrisburg caused him to change his mind. He ultimately entered a guilty plea.
Prior to his criminal trial, a male correctional officer sexually harassed Plaintiff. The complaint offers no information about the incident, such as the date it occurred, the name of the perpetrating officer, or a basic description of the harassment. However, Plaintiff makes it clear that the sexual harassment left him feeling fearful and despondent. From an emotional standpoint, Plaintiff simply could not prepare a defense in his criminal case.
He reported the harassment to officials at IYC-Harrisburg. The same day, the superintendent assured Plaintiff that his complaint would be “handled.” Officer Craig was assigned to investigate the matter. Rather than taking disciplinary action against the perpetrating officer, placing Plaintiff in protective custody, or transferring Plaintiff to another facility, however, Officer Craig took no action to protect Plaintiff following the investigation. Not long thereafter, the perpetrating officer approached Plaintiff in the chow hall and demanded to know why Plaintiff told on him. Plaintiff, who was already suicidal prior to this incident, feared for his life and could not focus on preparing for trial. He now challenges the judgment of conviction entered against him and seeks a new trial.

(Doc. 12, p. 5). As compared to his original Complaint, Plaintiff names no new defendants, sets forth no new factual allegations, and asserts no new claims against Warden Price and C/O Craig (id.). The only substantive difference between the original and amended complaints is his request for relief. Instead of requesting a new trial (Doc. 1, p. 8), Plaintiff now seeks immediate release from custody (Doc. 12, p. 7). He also seeks monetary damages (id. at 7).

         Discussion

         Given the fact that the original and amended complaints are substantively identical, the outcome of the Court's § 1915A screening is predictably the same.[2] Like the original Complaint, the First Amended Complaint is ...


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