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Collier v. Godines

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 9, 2016

GREGORY COLLIER, # M-31061, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"). He seeks compensation for having been wrongfully confined in disciplinary segregation on a misconduct charge that has since been expunged. The Complaint 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. § 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). 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 plaintiffs 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).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiffs claims survive threshold review under § 1915 A.

         The Complaint

         According to Plaintiff, he was on the yard at Pinckneyville[1] when a fight began (Doc. 1, p. 5). Later on, after Plaintiff had returned to his cell, he was "picked up" by Internal Affairs and charged with disciplinary infractions connected to the fight. Despite the lack of evidence connecting Plaintiff to the incident, he was found guilty by the disciplinary committee and punished with one year in segregation as well as the revocation of one year of good conduct credits. The Director later reduced the loss of good time credits to three months (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 9).

         Plaintiff spent the entire year in segregation as originally ordered, but pursued his grievance over the disciplinary action. Ultimately, on August 1, 2014, the ticket was expunged by the Administrative Review Board, which found the charges to be unsubstantiated (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 11). Plaintiffs lost good conduct credits were fully restored (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 12). However, Plaintiff claims that due to the "unjust atrocities" he suffered during his segregation time, he is under a doctor's care for "mental imbalances" (Doc. 1, p. 5). He requests unspecified monetary compensation (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         According to the Complaint, Defendant Furlow was the officer who wrote Plaintiffs disciplinary ticket and Defendant Spiller signed off on the ticket charging Plaintiff with the offenses (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 8). Defendant Godines is sued because he was the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections at the time (Doc. 1, p. 1).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. 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 as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants Godines, Furlow, and Spiller, for depriving Plaintiff of a liberty interest without due process by confining him in punitive segregation for one year based ...

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