United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE District Judge, United States District Court.
David Bentz, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings the
instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against several Menard officials who allegedly violated his
constitutional rights. (Doc. 2). This case was opened after a
single claim (“Count 6”) was severed from
Bentz v. Gregson, et al., No. 16-cv-01349-DRH (S.D.
Ill. 2016) (“Gregson I”), pursuant to a
Memorandum and Order entered in Gregson I on January
9, 2017. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff brings the claim against members
of Menard's law library staff, including Shane Gregson,
Jennifer Clendenin, Dia Rodely, Morgan Teas, Jennifer Whitley
and other unknown individuals,  for denying him access to the
courts in 2016. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 10; Doc. 2, pp. 30-31). He
seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages and injunctive
relief against them. (Doc. 2, pp. 39-41).
severed case is now subject to preliminary review under 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
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). Count 6 survives preliminary review under this
to Count 6, Plaintiff asserts that the law library staff at
Menard, including Defendants Gregson, Clendenin, Rodely,
Teas, Whitley and other “John and/or Jane Does, ”
impeded his access to the Courts in 2016. (Doc. 2, pp.
30-31). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that these
individuals regularly failed to electronically file his court
documents or to give him copies of documents that were filed
in his pending cases. (Doc. 2, p. 30). On a number of
occasions, they stamped Plaintiff's documents as
“filed” when they were not. Id.
wrote grievances to complain about the law library
staff's misconduct as early as January 28, 2016.
Id. However, the grievances did not resolve the
problem. The law library continued this pattern even after
Plaintiff filed Bentz v. Maue, No. 16-cv-00854-NJR
(S.D. Ill. 2016) (“Maue”). (Doc. 2, p.
31). Plaintiff alleges that Maue was ultimately
dismissed because of the law library staff's failure to
file documents pertaining to his request for in forma
pauperis status and related matters. Plaintiff further
claims that he missed a deadline imposed by the Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals in another case as a result of the
law library staff's misconduct. (Doc. 2, p. 30).
case involves the following claim that was severed from
Count 6 - Violation of Plaintiff's right to access the
courts by Gregson, Clendenin, Rodely, Teas, Whitley, and