United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MARIO S. ENGLISH, JR., # B-57430, Plaintiff,
KIMBERLY BUTLER, and MONICA NIPPE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE, United States District Judge.
Mario S. English, Jr. (“English”), an inmate
currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”), brings this pro se civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
English alleges that his rights have been violated by Menard
staff members who have hindered his access to the
Courts. He further alleges that Menard is at fault
for failing to respond to grievances about the same. In
connection with his claims, English names Warden Kimberly
Butler and counselor Monica Nippe. English seeks monetary
compensation and injunctive relief.
First Amended Complaint is now before the Court for review.
The Court's May 13, 2016 Order informed English that the
First Amended Complaint would entirely supersede his previous
filings, and that it would not be accepted in a piecemeal
fashion. Accordingly, this review only considers the First
Amended Complaint and the exhibits appended to that document
(Doc. 9). English's additional “response”
filings (Docs. 12 and 13) are construed as motions and will
be addressed in the pending motions section of this
Memorandum and Order.
alleges that he experienced difficulty sending legal mail at
Menard when Defendant Monica Nippe refused to give him an
adequate supply of money vouchers to mail his legal
correspondence (Doc. 9 at 40-44). English claims that as a
result of Nippe's intentional refusal, he missed multiple
court deadlines (Id.). In an exhibit appended to his
Amended Complaint, English claims that he suffered harm as a
result of Nippe's actions in two court cases--#3-14-0161
and #4-14-0256 (presumably state court cases) (Id.
at 23). He insists that in each instance, he was unable to
file timely petitions for writs of certiorari due to the
denial of money vouchers (Id.). English also
appended shorthand notes made by Nippe documenting her visits
to the cell house in October, November and December of 2015
at which times she noted English's requests for money
vouchers (Id. at 36-38). The notes suggest that
money vouchers were sent each time, though they do not
contain any specific proof of when or how money vouchers were
sent (Id.). A handwritten letter from English also
purports to bear a handwritten response by Nippe on or around
January 20, 2016, wherein she indicated that she had directed
the provision of money vouchers (Id. at 20).
asserts that he grieved Nippe's actions to no avail
(Id. at 40). Specifically, English claims that he
submitted a grievance to Warden Kimberly Butler, but that she
did not respond (Id.). English argues that Nippe and
Butler's actions are indicative of deliberate
indifference and a denial of access to the courts
(Id. at 40-45). English seeks monetary damages, and
injunctive relief in the form of a transfer to Stateville or
Pontiac, a directive to Menard requiring the facility to
always provide inmates with money vouchers, a copy of his
disciplinary card and all of his incoming and outgoing mail
(Id. at 45-47).
on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide
the pro se Complaint into the following enumerated
claims. The parties and the Court will use these designations
in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed
by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these
counts does not constitute an opinion regarding their merit.
Count 1:Denial of access to the courts claim
against Butler and Nippe for failing to provide English with
a sufficient number of money vouchers to mail his legal
Count 2: Fourteenth Amendment claim for
failure to respond to English's grievances regarding the
shortage of money vouchers for legal mail.
discussed below, Count 1 will be allowed to proceed beyond
screening solely as to Defendant Nippe; Count 1 will be
dismissed without prejudice as it pertains to Defendant
Butler. Further, Count 2 shall be dismissed with prejudice
for failure to state a claim.
Seventh Circuit has held that prisoners must receive
“that quantum of access to prison libraries [and
materials]-not total or unlimited access-which will enable
them to research the law and determine what facts may be
necessary to state a cause of action.” See Gentry
v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 558 (7th Cir. 1995) (quoting
Hossman v. Spradlin, 812 F.2d 1019, 1021 (7th Cir.
1987). Materials necessary include “paper, some means
of writing, staplers, access to notary services where
required by procedural rules, and mailing materials.”
Id. However, access need not be limitless. The
two-part test to determine if an inmate has a claim for
denial of access to the courts requires a showing that (1)
prison officials failed to assist in the preparation and
filing of meaningful legal materials, and (2) that the
failure led to some quantum of detriment such as an
interruption and/or delay of the inmate's pending or
contemplated litigation. Id. The denial of materials
can satisfy the first prong of the test, while the second
prong can be satisfied by showing “real
prejudice.” Id. at 558-59. An inmate need not
show that he definitely would have won the underlying claim
that he was hindered in bringing, rather, he need only show
that he was denied “the right to rise to the level of
being a failure.” Id. at 559.
state a claim for denial of access to the courts, a plaintiff
must explain “the connection between the alleged denial
of access to legal materials and an inability to pursue a
legitimate challenge to a conviction, sentence, or prison
conditions, ” Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664,
671 (7th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation and citation
omitted); accord Guajardo Palma v. Martinson, 622
F.3d 801, 805-06 (7th Cir. 2010). This requires Plaintiff to
identify a non-frivolous underlying claim that was lost.
See Bridges v. Gilbert,557 F.3d 541, 553 (7th Cir.
2009); Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 416
(2002); Steidl v. Fermon, 494 F.3d 623, 633 (7th
Cir. 2007). The nature of the underlying loss may influence