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Shelton v. Melvin

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division

March 10, 2017

Corey Shelton #B-68216, Plaintiff,
Sup't Chris Melvin, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [3] is granted. The court authorizes and orders the trust fund officer at plaintiff's place of incarceration to forward to the Clerk of Court an initial partial filing fee of $19.24, and to continue making monthly deductions from plaintiff's account in accordance with this order. The court directs the clerk to mail a copy of this order to the trust fund office at the Dixon Correctional Center. However, the court summarily dismisses the complaint on initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure to state a colorable federal claim. The case is terminated. Plaintiff's motions for attorney representation [4] and for service of process at government expense [5] are denied as moot. This dismissal counts as one of plaintiff's three allotted dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).


         Plaintiff Corey Shelton, an Illinois state prisoner, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that defendants, officials at the Dixon Correctional Center, violated plaintiff's constitutional rights by denying him due process and equal protection. More specifically, plaintiff alleges that an internal affairs investigator wrongfully pressed prison disciplinary action against him, that a work supervisor improperly removed him from his job assignment, and that the supervisor, the warden, and a counselor refused to restore him to his job after he was exonerated of the charge. Currently before the court are plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, his complaint for initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, his motion for attorney representation, and his motion for service of process at government expense.

         Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis demonstrates that he cannot prepay the filing fee. The court therefore grants his motion. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(b)(1) and (2), the court orders: (1) plaintiff to immediately pay (and the facility having custody of him to automatically remit) $19.24 to the Clerk of Court for payment of the initial partial filing fee and (2) plaintiff to pay (and the facility having custody of him to automatically remit) to the Clerk of Court twenty percent of the money he receives for each calendar month during which he receives $10.00 or more, until the $350 filing fee is paid in full. The court directs the Clerk of Court to ensure that a copy of this order is mailed to each facility where plaintiff is housed until the filing fee has been paid in full. All payments shall be sent to the Clerk of Court, United States District Court, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, attn: Cashier's Desk, 20th Floor, and shall clearly identify plaintiff's name and the case number assigned to this case.

         Under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a), the court is required to screen pro se prisoners' complaints and dismiss the complaint, or any claims therein, if the court determines that the complaint or claim is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 214 (2007); Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Courts screen prisoner litigation claims in the same manner as ordinary motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011). A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. See Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must “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) (citation omitted). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, a “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         “In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, [courts] accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true.” Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013). Courts also construe pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).


         Plaintiff Corey Shelton is an Illinois state prisoner, confined at the Dixon Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action. Defendant Dan Newman is a correctional lieutenant at Dixon, as well as the head of the facility's Internal Affairs Office. Defendant Chris Melvin is the prison's Superintendent of Eyeglass Industry. Defendant Christine Terry is a counselor at Dixon. Defendant Donald Enloe was Dixon's warden at the time of the events giving rise to his lawsuit.

         Plaintiff alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of the court's threshold review: prior to the events underlying the complaint, plaintiff held a job in the prison's Optical Lab, under the supervision of defendant Melvin. Plaintiff worked in the prison mailroom, where his responsibilities included mailing out eyeglasses to vendors that had contracts with the Illinois Department of Corrections.

         Melvin occasionally issued warnings and reminders to his prison employees that they had to comport with certain rules. In 2013 Melvin released a memo to his inmate employees concerning noise levels, inmates “visiting” on the job, and the appropriate attire for employees. See [1] at 18. The memo warned inmates that due to recurring issues in these areas, prison employees faced progressively increased discipline for rule infractions, from a verbal warning for a first offense, to a one-day suspension for a second offense, to termination for a third offense. See Id. at 18-21.

         Plaintiff never received any complaints about his job performance. The packages he sent out were never returned because he had erred in any manner. He never received a verbal warning for a first offense, nor was he ever suspended for a second instance of alleged misconduct. Plaintiff always reported to work on time and performed his job duties as directed.

         Melvin seemed to favor certain inmate workers over others. He designated them as “line leaders, ” referred to them as his “eyes and ears, ” allowed them to supervise the other inmate employees, and permitted them to say and do virtually whatever they pleased. Melvin ...

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