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Freeman v. Reichard

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 18, 2017



          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiffs Geoffrey Freeman and Pierre Montanez, inmates in Menard Correctional Center, bring this action for deprivations of their constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs request injunctive relief. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Amended 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 such relief.

         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 Amended Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A. Portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.[1]

         The Amended Complaint

         Defendant Reichard approached Freeman in 2013 and asked him to act as a confidential informant. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Freeman has consistently operated as an informant since that time. Freeman told Reichard that it would be helpful if he was celled with someone who spoke Spanish, and suggested Montanez, whom he knew through a veterans' group. (Doc. 5, p. 13). Freeman and Montanez were able to provide information about various Security Threat Groups (“STG”). (Doc. 5, pp. 33-36).

         Freeman became aware through his work that the Menard Intelligence Department (“Intel”) engaged in questionable practices such as: 1) soliciting cellmates to fabricate confessions to aid in high-profile cases; 2) attempting to intercept documents protected by attorney-client privilege; 3) setting up prisoners to be attacked if they refused to cooperate with intel or as a favor to a STG; and 4) interceding to provide favorable treatment to other confidential informants, even when they engaged in violent behavior against other prisoners. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-20, 34). Freeman also learned that Intel would sometimes be aware of a threat to a prisoner in advance, but fail to act. In one instance, a prisoner lost both his eyes in an attack that intel had prior knowledge about. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-15)

         For their safety and to aid them in their informant activities, Montanez and Freeman were continuously housed together from February 25, 2014 until April 14, 2014 and again from September 2014 until September 2016. (Doc. 5, pp. 13-14). Several times beginning in January 2016, Montanez and Freeman were sent to Stateville on a court writ and brought back information on STG activity in that institution. (Doc. 5, p. 33).

         Sometime in the summer of 2016, Freeman informed Reichard that he would no longer work as a confidential informant because his criminal case was taking up too much of his time and attention. (Doc. 5, p. 37). When Freeman and Montanez went to Stateville on September 14, 2016, Freeman's special diet was terminated without explanation. Id. Freeman contacted Reichard about the diet, and Reichard told him that he was in very deep and couldn't just cut things off. Id.

         Freeman returned to Menard on September 27, 2016, while Montanez stayed at Stateville. Id. He began hearing rumors identifying Montanez and himself as informants - Freeman ignored the rumors. (Doc. 5, pp. 37-38).

         Freeman was attacked on October 6, 2016, but did not report the attack to staff because reporting would have the effect of confirming the snitch rumor. (Doc. 5, p. 38). He attempted to contact Reichard, but was unable to reach him. Id. On October 13, 2016, Freeman was attacked by inmate Austin and both were written up and sent to segregation for fighting. Id. Freeman knew Austin worked with Reichard in the past and that Reichard was behind the attack. (Doc. 5, p. 17). Freeman alleges that Austin wanted to move to west house and needed to raise his aggression level to get placed there. Freeman asserts that he personally advised Austin to attack another inmate. Id.

         Freeman left Menard on October 26, 2016 and did not return until January 11, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 39). At that point, it became clear that Intel had leaked Freeman and Montanez's status as informants to members of various security threat groups. (Doc. 5, pp. 23, 39). Freeman sought protective custody on January 12, 2017. Id. Montanez returned to Menard on February 15, 2017, having no idea that his cover had been blown. (Doc. 5, p. 23). Freeman told Reichard that Montanez was a sitting duck and had family members on the outside do the same. Id. Montanez was placed on protective custody on February 19, 2017. Id. Freeman alleges that Reichard told him that Montanez would be his cellmate for safety reasons. Id. Instead, Montanez was placed with a Latin King member. Id. Montanez and Freeman filed an emergency grievance regarding the cell assignment on March 5, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 24).

         Freeman believes that Reichard solicited the Vice Lords to injure him and Montanez on behalf of Reichard, Schoebeck and Spiller. (Doc. 5, p. 21). Freeman and Montanez alerted Schoebeck of a breach. Id. They filed an emergency grievance regarding Montanez's placement with a STG inmate in protective custody on March 13, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 24). That same day, Montanez was moved in with a Latin King member known as “Crazy Leggs” who has issues with Montanez because Montanez would not hide and hold weapons and drugs for him on the outside. (Doc. 5, p. 21). Freeman and Montanez told Spiller that they wanted to house together for safety reasons, but Spiller told them they were on their own. Id. Freeman also moved further away from Montanez on March 13, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 22). He alleges that this move made him unable to monitor the situation with Montanez. (Doc. 5, p. 24). As a result of the moves, Freeman and Montanez attempted to sign out of protective custody, but their requests were ignored. (Doc. 5, p. 25).

         On March 15, 2017, Spiller told Freeman that he would be moved back in with Montanez, but this has not happened to date. (Doc. 5, p. 24). Defendants have threatened to transfer Freeman and Montanez to Pontiac, which Freeman alleges would increase the danger of their situation. (Doc. 5, pp. 25-26). Freeman asserts that he and Montanez pose a threat to Reichard, Schoenbeck and Spiller because they know about the workings of the Menard Intelligence Department, including some of ...

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