United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, District Judge
Ronnie Gully, Jr., an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
deprivations of his constitutional rights. In the Complaint,
Plaintiff alleges that C/O Houser, C/O Hundley, and Assistant
Warden Goines retaliated against him for filing grievances to
complain about inappropriate sexual comments that Officer
Houser made to him in July 2016. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-11). He
brings claims against all three defendants under the First,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1, p. 12). In
connection with these claims, Plaintiff seeks declaratory
judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief.
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
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.
careful review of the Complaint and the supporting exhibits,
the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority
under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to
summary dismissal. The Complaint (Doc. 1) otherwise survives
screening under § 1915A.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that three Lawrence officials
participated in a campaign of retaliation against him after
he reported being sexually harassed by one of them in July
2016. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-11). Plaintiff filed grievances to
complain about the incident and the conditions of his
confinement beginning in mid-August. (Doc. 1, p. 6). In
response, he was threatened by staff and issued false
disciplinary tickets. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-11).
2016, an unidentified officer conducted a strip search of
Plaintiff before visitation. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Approximately
one hour into the visitation period, Plaintiff requested
permission to use the restroom. Id. Officer Houser
granted his request and escorted Plaintiff to the restroom.
Id. Before returning to the visitation area, Officer
Houser conducted another strip search of Plaintiff.
process, Officer Houser made inappropriate sexual comments to
Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 6). The officer allegedly encouraged
Plaintiff to masturbate in front of him. Id.
Plaintiff refused to do so, telling the officer that
“he had the wrong one.” Id. Plaintiff
was allowed to return to the visitation area without further
mid-August, Plaintiff wrote a grievance to complain about
Officer Houser's conduct. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He addressed
the grievance to Warden Goines but heard nothing from the
warden for “months.” Id. When the warden
finally responded, he appeared at Plaintiff's cell in
segregation and told him that “internal affairs was
looking into it.” Id.
meantime, Plaintiff received a “subtle threat”
from Officer Houser. (Doc. 1, p. 7). On August 20, 2016,
Officer Houser approached Plaintiff in the chow hall and
informed Plaintiff that he “got wind of the
grievances.” Id. The officer told Plaintiff
that he “was getting by, but would never get
August 22, 2016, Officer Reeves, a longtime colleague of
Officer Houser, issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for
unauthorized movement. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff's
movement outside of his cell was allegedly lawful because he
was visiting his attorney at the time. Id. Even so,
he was found guilty of the rule violation and disciplined.
Id. Plaintiff offers no details regarding his
disciplinary hearing or punishment. Id.
confined in “solitude, ” Plaintiff filed several
grievances to complain about the conditions of his
confinement. (Doc. 1, p. 7). In the same grievances,
Plaintiff expressed “fear” of “more
fabricated disciplinary reports.” Id. He
requested protective custody or a prison transfer.
Id. Plaintiff filed the grievances with Warden
Duncan, Warden Goines, and Lieutenant Wheeler “to no
avail.” (Doc. 1, p. 8).
Johnson, a member of the Administrative Review Board,
received several of Plaintiff's grievance appeals between
August 27, 2016 and January 25, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). She
indicated that each grievance would be investigated by
internal affairs. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff was interviewed
prior to his release from segregation, but his request for
protective custody or a prison transfer was denied.
Id. The internal affairs officers told Plaintiff
“not to worry” about his reintegration into the
general population because he “would be fine.”
returning to the general population, Plaintiff had several
“run-ins” with Officer Houser. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
The officer initially seemed to follow or stalk Plaintiff and
then began making more overt threats toward him. Id.
On November 15, 2016, the officer conducted a
“harassing” pat down of Plaintiff in his cell.
Id. Plaintiff requested permission to speak with a
crisis team, counselor, and/or zone lieutenant. Id.
Plaintiff was then transferred to a different area of the
prison on November 26, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
November 28, 2016, Officer Hundley approached Plaintiff and
said that “he's been hearing [Plaintiff's] name
throughout the institution.” (Doc. 1, p. 9). Officer
Hundley asked Plaintiff to tell him about his problems with
Officer Houser before commenting that Plaintiff
“din't (sic) understand the can of worm's
[he'd] opened by fucking with (Houser).”
Id. Officer Hundley warned Plaintiff to “lay
off him or he'd make [Plaintiff's] life a living
following day, Officer Hundley called Plaintiff out of his
cell for a medical sick call pass. (Doc. 1, p. 9). While
escorting Plaintiff back to his cell, Officer Hundley
suddenly exclaimed in a loud voice, “[I]f you ever do
that again I'll walk your ass, no you know what pack your
shit your going to seg (sic).” (Doc. 1, p. 9).
Plaintiff asked the officer to explain what he was talking
about. Id. Officer Hundley then accused Plaintiff of
elbowing him. Id. Plaintiff was taken to segregation
and issued a disciplinary ticket for assaulting an officer.
Id. This offense allegedly carries significant
penalties “consistent with a new criminal
charge.” (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). Penalties include up to
three years of additional time in custody, one year of lost
privileges and good time, and one year of solitary
December 8, 2016, Plaintiff was interviewed by internal
affairs. (Doc. 1, p. 10). The officers indicated that the
ticket was “faulty and unrealistic.” Id.
They told him “not to worry” because they would
recommend dismissal of the ticket. Id. Plaintiff was
released from segregation the following day. Id.
However, he discovered that his personal property items,
which were inventoried by Officer Hundley, were missing.
December 12, 2016, Plaintiff was found guilty of insolence.
(Doc. 1, p. 10). It is unclear whether this guilty finding
related, in any way, to the incident involving Officer
Hundley or was an entirely separate incident. Id.
Plaintiff was punished with a loss of gym, commissary, phone,
job, and transfer privileges. Id. This was
particularly harsh punishment for Plaintiff, given that it
occurred just before the holiday season. Id.
Plaintiff filed a grievance to complain about the guilty
finding for a rule violation he was never charged with in the
first place. Id. He characterized it as
has since been “continuously . . . harassed [and]
threatened with physical violence due to [his] perpetual
filing of grievances.” (Doc. 1, p. 9). He has kept a
log of these incidents. (Doc. 1, p. 10). His exhibits include
a number of grievances addressing the allegations of
harassment and retaliation already described herein. (Doc.
1-2, pp. 1-59).
also complains that his grievances were improperly handled.
(Doc. 1, p. 11). He blames this on a “structural
error” in the in-house grievance process, which allows
prison officials to manipulate the process in order to
prevent inmates from obtaining relief in prison or in the
courts. Id. Plaintiff challenges the ...