United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CHRISTOPHER H. McCOY, #09150-025, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN PARTY, BENNETT, MEADE, WRIGHT, BARLOW, PRICE, and WARDEN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge United States District Court
matter is now before the Court for consideration of the First
Amended Complaint ("amended complaint") (Doc. 12)
filed by Christopher McCoy pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331
and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388
(1971). In the amended complaint, Plaintiff claims that
officials at the United States Penitentiary in Marion,
Illinois ("USP-Marion"), failed to maintain
adequate ventilation in the prison's law library between
April and July 2015 (Doc. 12, pp. 1-8). The poor ventilation
allegedly interfered with Plaintiffs use of the law library
and his access to the courts. It also resulted in a denial of
equal protection of the law. In connection with these claims,
Plaintiff names USP-Marion's warden, John Doe #1 (unknown
HVAC supervisor), Bennett (education administrator), Meade
(library supervisor), Wright (education instructor), Barlow
(education instructor), and Price (education instructor)
(id.). He seeks monetary relief against them
(id. at 8).
Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
amended complaint is now before the Court for preliminary
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under §
1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner
complaints, including amended complaints, to filter out
nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court
is required to dismiss any portion of the 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).
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 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 Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
2009). The amended complaint does not pass muster under
§ 1915A and shall be dismissed.
around April 23, 2015, an unknown HVAC supervisor ("John
Doe #1") at USP-Marion determined that the air
conditioning unit in the prison's law library was in need
of repair (Doc. 12, p. 1). The prison received funding for
the project on or around May 25, 2015 (id. at 2).
Repair of the unit took several months because the HVAC
supervisor was first required to disassemble the cooling
system before ordering replacement parts and installing them.
the defendants were aware that the law library lacked air
conditioning. Most of them worked in the education building,
which houses the law library, and they regularly passed
through the library on the way to their air conditioned
offices. In the process, the defendants took no action to
open windows in the library in order to improve air
circulation, even when Plaintiff asked them to do so during
the summer months (id. at 2, 4). At the same time,
windows in other areas of the prison remained open to improve
ventilation (id. at 2).
April 24 and July 13, 2015, Plaintiff frequently visited the
law library because he was preparing several lawsuits,
including a habeas petition, for filing (id. at 3).
From Monday through Saturday each week, he used the law
library from 1-3:20 p.m. From Monday through Thursday each
week, he returned to the library from 7-8:20 p.m. Plaintiff
alleges that he spent a total of 20-23 hours per week in the
library conducting legal research that could not be completed
elsewhere in the prison (id. at 4).
now claims that the lack of ventilation produced a
"chilling effect" on his use of the prison's
law library, in violation of his right to access the courts
under the First Amendment (id. at 3). He further
claims that the different manner of cooling and ventilating
areas of the prison amounted to a denial of equal protection
of the law under the Fifth Amendment.
facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in
this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it
appropriate to reorganize the claims in Plaintiff s pro
se amended complaint (Doc. 12) into the following
Count 1:Conditions of confinement claim against
Defendants for failing to ensure adequate
ventilation in the prison law library from April 24 - July
Count 2:Denial of access to courts claim against
Defendants based on their failure to adequately ventilate the
prison law library from ...