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Ford v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 19, 2016

ANTOINE FORD, #R-49546, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMBERLY BUTLER, KENT E. BROOKMAN, and TRACEY LEE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Antoine Ford, an inmate at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Menard's warden (Kimberly Butler) and two members of Menard's Adjustment Committee (Kent Brookman and Tracey Lee). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was denied credit for time he spent in investigative segregation when he was punished with 30 days of disciplinary segregation for trafficking and trading. (Doc. 1, p. 5). As a result, he remained in segregation for a total of 50 days instead of 30. (Id. at pp. 5, 7).

         On August 2, 2015, Plaintiff was allegedly placed in investigative segregation at Stateville Correctional Center. (Id. at 5). He maintained this status following his transfer to Menard on August 4, 2015. (Id.). Plaintiff attended a hearing before Menard's Adjustment Committee on August 29, 2015. (Id.). The committee found him guilty of trafficking and trading but dismissed a charge for impeding an investigation. (Id.). He was punished with 30 days in disciplinary segregation and demotion to C-grade status. (Id.).

         Plaintiff asked the Adjustment Committee members whether he would receive credit for the time he had already spent in segregation. (Id.). Chairman Brookman told Plaintiff that he would. (Id.). Co-Chair Lee disagreed and said that Plaintiff's 30-day term of punishment did not begin to run until he was served with the disciplinary ticket on August 28, 2015. (Id.).

         Had he received credit for his time spent in investigative segregation, Plaintiff asserts that he would have been released from segregation on September 2, 2015. (Id.). Instead, he was released on September 21, 2015. (Id.). He now claims that the Adjustment Committee's failure to credit him for time spent in investigative segregation amounted to a deprivation of a protected liberty interest without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and a denial of equal protection of the law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id.) He seeks monetary damages against the defendants, as well as a prison transfer to avoid any retaliation that might result from filing this action. (Id. at 6).

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

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to 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). 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).

         After carefully considering the allegations, the Court finds that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and does not survive screening under § 1915A. Accordingly, the Complaint shall be dismissed. However, Plaintiff will be granted leave to re-plead his claims by filing a First Amended Complaint consistent with the deadline and instructions set forth in the below disposition.

         Discussion

         To 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 has organized the claims in Plaintiff's pro se Complaint into the following enumerated counts:

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment claim against the defendants for depriving Plaintiff of a protected liberty interest without due process of law by failing to credit him for time he spent in investigative segregation when executing a 30-day term of disciplinary segregation in August and September 2015.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against the defendants for subjecting Plaintiff to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in segregation in August and September 2015.
Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against the defendants for the conduct described ...

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