United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
SHANE A. KITTERMAN, #B-80577, Plaintiff,
JEFF DENNISON, JASON GARNETT, JOANNE HOSCH, GLOBAL TEL-LINK CORP, CHRISTOPHER BRINKLEY, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS DIRECTOR, and UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE District Judge
Shane Kitterman, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), brings
this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights
pursuant to “42 U.S.C. §§ 1331(1) and
1343.” (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, he claims that
officials at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big
Muddy”) retaliated against him for filing grievances
and complaints about the prison's video visitation
program by removing him from his job assignment, interfering
with his court access, assaulting him and ultimately
transferring him to Shawnee. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-5). Plaintiff
seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages and injunctive
relief. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
case is now before the Court for 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.
2009). The Complaint does not survive preliminary review
under this standard.
was housed at Big Muddy from January 20, 2016 until January
9, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 5). During this time period, the
prison allegedly offered inmates the option of participating
in “video visitation” with their families. (Doc.
1, p. 2). Acting on behalf of the prison, Warden Garnett
worked with Global Tel-Link, Corp. (“GTL”) to
make this service available. Id. GTL set up kiosks
in the prison. Id. Inmates who were interested in
video visitation were required to purchase an MP3 player and
I-mail messaging services from GTL. Id. Their
families were required to sign a contract for in-home
internet services with the same company. Id.
wished to participate in the program, so he purchased an MP3
player and other products from GTL. (Doc. 1, p. 3). His
family also entered into a contract with the company for
internet services. Id. After thirty-two days,
Plaintiff learned that his MP3 player was “used,
defective, and unmerchantable.” Id. He
maintains that video visitation “never existed.”
attempted to recover the money that he and his family spent
on the device, related products, and internet services. (Doc.
1, p. 3). He filed grievances and appealed to the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) Director.
Id. However, his grievances “fell on deaf
ears” and were denied. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). When he
attempted to communicate his complaints directly to GTL
through the kiosk, Plaintiff was “sanctioned.”
(Doc. 1, p. 4). This caused him “unwarranted stress and
mental anguish.” Id.
the same time, Plaintiff secured a job in the prison law
library. (Doc. 1, p. 3). He was assigned the position of law
clerk and worked under the supervision of Joanne Hosch.
Id. Plaintiff had access to hundreds of IDOC inmates
in this position and he assisted them in drafting pleadings
and other legal documents. Id. In the process, he
prepared pleadings on behalf of numerous inmates who wanted
to recover from the loss of money associated with the
prison's video visitation program. Id.
Hosch and several unknown correctional officers warned
Plaintiff “to stop helping other inmates file
grievances and complaints against GTL and [D]efendant
Garnett.” (Doc. 1, p. 3). When he continued to do so,
Plaintiff was allegedly assaulted by an unknown correctional
officer. Id. He offers no details regarding the
assault or any injuries he sustained as a result of it.
working in the library in September and October 2016,
Plaintiff observed Hosch and a fellow inmate engage in sexual
conduct on several occasions. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff
reported each incident to the Prison Rape Elimination Act
(“PREA”) hotline. Id. The PREA
representative relayed details of his allegations to
Lieutenant Denise Minor,  who shared the information with Hosch.
Id. As soon as Hosch learned about Plaintiff's
allegations against her, she “immediately removed the
plaintiff from his assigned job as a law clerk.”
Id. No disciplinary report or reprimand was ever
issued against Hosch. Id.
eventually filed suit in Illinois state court under the
Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act,
815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Chris Brinkley
allegedly instructed correctional officers to threaten and
intimidate Plaintiff in an effort to discourage him from
pursuing his claims. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). These officers
threatened Plaintiff and his family. (Doc. 1, p. 5).
Plaintiff provides no details regarding the date, time,
context or substance of any threats. Id. In response
to them, however, he requested a prison transfer to a
comparable facility, but the IDOC Director determined that he
was “properly placed.” Id.
IDOC Director, Garnett and Brinkley changed their minds about
Plaintiff's placement after they were served with an
order in the pending state case compelling them to produce
documents pertaining to the unlawful sale of defective
products to unsuspecting inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff
was subsequently transferred to Shawnee on January 10, 2017.
Id. He alleges that the facility is not comparable
to Big Muddy. Id. Shawnee houses the “worst
offenders in the State of Illinois.” Id.
Prison gang activity and violence are significant problems
there. Id. Inmates are denied access to
court-ordered drug and alcohol programs. Id. Shawnee
is also located farther away from Plaintiff's family than
Big Muddy. Id. He vaguely alludes to “several
incidents of assault by Warden Dennison and his officers that
resulted from Plaintiff's continued efforts to pursue his
claims against the Director, Garnett, Brinkley and several
unknown correctional officers. Id. He also refers to
instances in which the mailroom staff at Shawnee
“blocked and destroyed several legal documents placed
in the prison mail system.” Id. Plaintiff now
asserts claims against the defendants for retaliation. (Doc.
1). In addition, he brings claims of interference with court
access, assault and intentional infliction of emotional
distress. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff seeks declaratory
judgment and monetary relief. Id. He also requests
injunctive relief, in the form of an order requiring prison
officials to reinstate his job and transfer him to a facility
that is closer to his family. Id.
facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in
this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it
appropriate to organize the claims in Plaintiff's pro
se Complaint into the following counts:
Count 1 - Fourteenth Amendment claim against
Defendants for denying Plaintiff access to video visitation
with his family even after he purchased the equipment and
service plan necessary to ...