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Joseph v. Engleson

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

March 31, 2017

TURI JAFET JOSEPH a/k/a JOSEPH TURI #297255, Plaintiff,
SUPERINTENDENT ENGLESON, #234, et al., Defendants.


          Milton I. Shadur, Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Turi Joseph is a detainee in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He is currently incarcerated at the Dodge County (Wisconsin) Detention Facility, apparently facing removal proceedings. Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that Defendants, correctional officials at the Stateville Correctional Center, violated Plaintiff's constitutional and statutory rights by denying him due process, by using unjustified force against him and by infringing on his religious exercise. More specifically Plaintiff alleges that Defendants repeatedly disciplined him for refusing haircuts and ultimately forcibly cut his hair in violation of his Rastafarian Nazirite faith. This matter is before the Court for ruling on Plaintiff's motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and for attorney representation as well as for threshold review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Because Plaintiff currently has a zero balance in his inmate trust account, the Court waives the initial partial filing fee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). However the Court authorizes and orders Plaintiff (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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). 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. Payments should 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). 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 alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of the Court's threshold review: Upon his admission into the Illinois Department of Corrections, Plaintiff told intake employees that he is a Rastafarian and a Nazirite. As a Nazirite Plaintiff has made a religious vow never to cut his hair.

         At the time of the events giving rise to this lawsuit Plaintiff was an inmate at the Stateville Correctional Center. On March 19, 24, and 26, 2015, Plaintiff refused to get a haircut. Plaintiff repeatedly explained to correctional officials that it was against his religious beliefs to cut his hair. However Defendant Engleson, a cellhouse superintendent, informed Plaintiff that his religious preference conflicted with the prison's grooming policy.

         Plaintiff received a disciplinary report each time he rebuffed requests to go to the barber. Engleson warned Plaintiff that unless he voluntarily permitted a barber to cut his hair, prison officials would force his compliance. She directed Plaintiff to file a grievance if he disagreed with the decision.

         On March 27, 2015, before Plaintiff had either appeared before an adjustment committee or had the opportunity to avail himself of grievance procedures, Defendant Engleson dispatched a tactical team to his cell. The tactical team, nicknamed "Orange Crush, " sprayed a chemical agent through the chuckhole door of Plaintiff's cell. They then entered the cell and ordered Plaintiff to submit to being handcuffed. Next they took him to the ground and punched him. One of the officers stepped on Plaintiff's hand, breaking a finger and causing the hand to swell. The Orange Crush team then forcibly sheared Plaintiff's hair from his head.

         Plaintiff underwent a medical examination after his haircut. Health care professionals advised Plaintiff his little finger was not broken, but he did not believe them.

         At some point after the incidents giving rise to this lawsuit correctional officials transferred Plaintiff to another facility, the Pinckneyville Correctional Center. Plaintiff claims to have received inadequate medical treatment for his injured finger at Pinckneyville.

         Plaintiff initiated this suit on or about March 16, 2017 (the complaint is dated March 1, 2017, but the Clerk of Court received ...

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