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Cooper v. Macon County Court

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 14, 2016

STEVE L. COOPER, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. Chief District Judge

         Plaintiff Steve L. Cooper, an inmate in Taylorville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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).

         Plaintiff originally filed this suit on August 15, 2016, but his Complaint failed to request any relief. (Doc. 1). On September 30, 2016, the Court ordered Plaintiff to submit an amended complaint including a request for relief. (Doc. 9). In lieu of filing a proper amended complaint, Plaintiff merely submitted a single page requesting the relief of habeas corpus and $50, 000.00. (Doc. 10). Although docketed as the “First Amended Complaint, ” the document does not contain any of the claims at issue in this litigation. Although normally the Court would strike the First Amended Complaint as an improper filing for not including a statement of Plaintiff's claims, in this case, for reasons of judicial economy, the Court will permit Plaintiff to amend his Complaint by interlineation. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to add the Complaint (Doc. 1) to the First Amended Complaint, and the Court will construe them together. (Doc. 10).

         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.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights were violated when he was held as a probation violator. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff was on probation for domestic with a prior that he was sentenced to in January 2013. (Doc. 1, p. 5). However, he alleges that he was violated under the terms of his probation for an aggravated domestic assault that he was sentenced to in 2012, the terms of which had expired. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Judge Lisa Holder gave him an additional two years' probation for the violation. (Doc. 1, p. 5).


         Plaintiff's Complaint must be dismissed without prejudice. First, although Plaintiff has named the Macon County Court, the Macon County probation office, and an unknown John Doe probation officer as Defendants, he had not actually made any allegations against them. The reason that plaintiffs, even those proceeding pro se, for whom the Court is required to liberally construe complaints, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), are required to associate specific defendants with specific claims is so these defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them and so they can properly answer the complaint. “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Thus, where a plaintiff has not included a defendant in his statement of the claim, the defendant cannot be said to be adequately put on notice of which claims in the complaint, if any, are directed against him. Furthermore, merely invoking the name of a potential defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998) (“A plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant by including the defendant's name in the caption.”).

         Because Plaintiff has not listed Defendants Macon County Court, Macon County Probation Office and the unknown probation officer elsewhere in his Amended Complaint, he has not adequately stated claims against these individuals/entities, or put them on notice of any claims that Plaintiff may have ...

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