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Taplin v. Warden Pinckneyville CC

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 17, 2017

ENOS F. TAPLIN, Jr., #R60561, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN PINCKNEYVILLE CC and WARDEN MENARD CC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.

         Now before the Court for consideration is the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 16) filed by Plaintiff Enos Taplin, Jr., an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center. Plaintiff filed the instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in order to address numerous alleged violations of his constitutional rights that occurred at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”) and Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). (Doc. 1). The original Complaint did not survive screening and was dismissed without prejudice on November 15, 2016. (Doc. 15).

         Plaintiff was granted leave to re-plead his claims in a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 16), which is now before the Court for review. Section 1915A provides, in pertinent part:

(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 such relief.

         See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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). 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).

         Upon careful review of the First Amended Complaint, the Court deems it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by severing certain claims and dismissing others. The First Amended Complaint does not survive screening.

         Background

         On August 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in order to address alleged violations of his constitutional rights that occurred during his incarceration at Pinckneyville Correctional Center in 2013 and Menard Correctional Center from 2013-15. (Doc. 1). Both prisons are located in the federal judicial district for the Southern District of Illinois, and the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred here. For this reason, the Northern District transferred the case to this District on October 17, 2016. (Doc. 8).

         Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint on November 4, 2016, before this Court screened the Complaint (Doc. 13). The Court denied the motion because Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint was obviously incomplete as he omitted several pages and a request for relief from the proposed amended pleading (Doc. 15).

         The Court also found that the original Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and thus, did not survive preliminary review under § 1915A. Id. The Court therefore entered an Order dismissing the Complaint without prejudice on November 15, 2016. Id.

         Plaintiff was granted leave to file a First Amended Complaint by December 13, 2016. (Doc. 15, p. 5). He was instructed to “present each claim in a separate count, and . . . specify, by name, each defendant alleged to be liable under the count, as well as the actions alleged to have been taken by that defendant.” Id. (emphasis in original). Further, Plaintiff was warned that he “should include only related claims in his new Complaint [because] [c]laims found to be unrelated to one another w[ould] be severed into new cases, new case numbers w[ould] be assigned, and additional filing fees w[ould] be assessed.” (Doc. 15, pp. 5-6) (emphasis in original).

         First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff filed a timely First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 16). In it, he names Pinckneyville's warden and Menard's warden as the only two defendants. (Doc. 16, pp. 1-2). He claims that both defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 16, pp. 5-8). A summary of the allegations offered in support of these claims follows.

         Pinckneyville

         Plaintiff alleges that Pinckneyville's warden is responsible for constitutional violations that occurred at the prison between February 5, 2013 and September 6, 2013. (Doc. 16, pp. 1, 5- 6). On March 26, 2013, Plaintiff was allegedly taken to segregation after pressing an emergency button to request his psychotropic medication. (Doc. 16, p. 5). He received thirty days in segregation for a “housing refusal.” Id. Plaintiff then received an additional sixty days in segregation, instead of thirty, as punishment for destruction of state property. Id.

         When Plaintiff asked Officer Hicks to explain why he had received so many “unnecessary tickets” between March 26, 2013 and July 31, 2013, the officer told him that he would have “a problem” if he ever asked that question again. (Doc. 16, p. 5). Plaintiff responded by stating, “if you ar[e]n't going to tell me that there is a mistake . . ., you better get someone like the leuitenant (sic) to help me.” Id. Officer Hicks ...


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