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Orozco v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 27, 2017

ROGELIO OROZCO, # R-26820, Plaintiff,


          Michael J. Reagan Chief Judge

         This matter is before the Court for a preliminary review of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10), filed March 29, 2017. Plaintiff is an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center, where he was housed when he filed the instant pro se civil rights action.The Court shall review this amended pleading pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and shall also evaluate whether it complies with the instructions given to Plaintiff in the Court's order of March 7, 2017 (Doc. 9). As shall be explained below, the First Amended Complaint, and this entire action, shall be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

         On March 7, 2017, Plaintiff's original Complaint (Doc. 5), which named 11 Defendants in connection with events that occurred in both Menard Correctional Center and Pontiac Correctional Center, was dismissed without prejudice. (Doc. 9). The Court divided the claims in Plaintiff's complaint into 9 counts. Counts 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 were dismissed with prejudice. Each of these claims was based on an alleged deprivation of a liberty interest without due process in disciplinary proceedings conducted in 2014. Counts 2, 3, 6, and 9 were dismissed without prejudice. All of the named Defendants were dismissed from the action. Defendants Scott, Cowan, McCarty, Godinez, Anderson, and Stolworthy were dismissed from the action with prejudice, because they were named in connection with the counts that were dismissed with prejudice.

         After dismissing the claims and Defendants, the Court instructed Plaintiff that if he wished to further pursue Count 9, he could do so by filing a First Amended Complaint. Count 9 related only to the conditions of Plaintiff's confinement in punitive segregation at Pontiac, and was described as follows:

Count 9: Eighth Amendment claim against Pfister, for housing Plaintiff in cells infested with insects and contaminated with feces, subjecting him to intolerable noise, and failing to provide him with adequate nutrition during Plaintiff's segregation confinement.

         The Court noted that if Plaintiff chose to submit an amended complaint in connection with Count 9, the action would likely be transferred to the Central District of Illinois, where Pontiac is located. The Court specifically ordered that “[t]he amended complaint SHALL NOT include any of the counts dismissed with prejudice (Counts 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8).” (Doc. 9, p. 27).

         The First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10)

         In the amended pleading, Plaintiff includes all the original Defendants, including those who were dismissed from the action with prejudice, and adds three more parties. The statement of claim spans 34 pages. (Doc. 10, pp. 5-38). Plaintiff begins by re-pleading his due process challenge to his disciplinary conviction for gang activity, which the Court had dismissed with prejudice under Count 1. (Doc. 9). While Plaintiff's original complaint attacked the disciplinary proceedings for failing to comply with various administrative regulations, he now focuses his argument on the sufficiency of the evidence relied upon to find him guilty of the charges. He claims that the guilty finding was based solely on the disciplinary report filed by Carter, which relied on statements provided by confidential informants and by the Menard Intelligence Unit. (Doc. 10, pp. 9-14). He faults Scott and Hart, who conducted the first disciplinary hearing, for failing to independently corroborate the confidential sources' information, assess their credibility, or require them to appear at the hearing. Based on these alleged deficiencies, Plaintiff claims that Scott and Hart were not impartial when hearing his disciplinary ticket. He also re-alleges the claims included in Count 1 against Scott, Cowan, and Butler for re-hearing the ticket and imposing a 1-year term of segregation on the charges, at Butler's direction. (Doc. 10, pp. 16-17).

         Next, Plaintiff alleges that in July 2014, John Doe #1 (Personal Property Officer at Menard) and John Doe #2 (Personal Property Officer at Pontiac) confiscated and/or destroyed 2 boxes of Plaintiff's personal legal materials, including transcripts and other documents from his criminal case. (Doc. 10, pp. 18-19). He claims that these Defendants acted in conspiracy with Menard's Intelligence Unit and Administration, to punish him for refusing to become a confidential informant in April 2014 against inmates involved in gangs. Plaintiff had included similar allegations of retaliation in the original Complaint in Count 3, [1] in connection with his claims against Pfister. (Doc. 9, p. 6). He characterizes this claim in the First Amended Complaint against the John Does as one for retaliation as well. (Doc. 10, p. 36).

         Turning to McCarty and Godinez, Plaintiff alleges that when they remanded the disciplinary matter back to Carter to provide additional information on the evidence against Plaintiff, they failed to address Plaintiff's complaints that the disciplinary procedure was fraudulent and that the hearing committee was not impartial. (Doc. 10, pp. 19-20). Plaintiff raised similar allegations in the dismissed Count 4, [2] although in the original Complaint he focused on violations of the Illinois Administrative Code as the basis for his due process claims. He now argues that he was denied due process because of insufficiency/unreliability of the evidence underlying the finding of guilt. (Doc. 10, pp. 21-22).

         Plaintiff next repeats some of his original allegations against Holte and Salinas, who conducted a re-hearing of the disciplinary matter at Pontiac in which they denied Plaintiff's request to call Menard Officer Scott as a witness. (Doc. 10, pp. 23-25). He adds allegations challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, and includes a claim against Pfister for approving the re-imposition of discipline. These due process claims were dismissed with prejudice under Count 5 upon review of the original Complaint. (Doc. 9, pp. 16-17, 27).

         The First Amended Complaint continues by re-asserting claims against Anderson and Stolworthy for failing to address Plaintiff's complaints about the disciplinary proceedings, when they reduced his punishment from a 1-year segregation term back to the original 3-month period. (Doc. 10, pp. 26-27). This claim was dismissed with prejudice under Count 7, as were the associated Defendants. (Doc. 9, pp. 19-20, 27).

         Plaintiff then turns to the conditions of his confinement while in punitive segregation. (Doc. 10, pp. 28-32). He first points to the “atypical and significant hardship” he faced because he had to serve a wrongful sentence imposed after alleged due process violations. He discusses the potential psychological damage that can result from a person being held in solitary confinement, and contrasts his inability to access opportunities for jobs, vocational classes, sports, visits, and the like while in segregation, to the privileges he enjoyed while he was in general population at Menard. (Doc. 10, pp. 28-29). He re-alleges some of the facts included in the original Complaint, including being housed next to inmates who were seriously mentally ill, and who screamed constantly, kicked doors and walls, and threw urine and feces. These conditions caused Plaintiff to be unable to sleep adequately. At some point, he was placed in a cell where the walls were smeared with feces and was infested with bugs, but was not given any cleaning supplies. (Doc. 10, p. 31). He was not given sufficient toilet paper, clean clothing, or bedding. His religious practices were restricted, as were his ability to communicate with outsiders through the mail (he does not detail these allegations).

         The segregation conditions Plaintiff describes in the First Amended Complaint are similar to matters that he pled in the original Complaint, designated as Count 9. In discussing these conditions, however, Plaintiff states that although he “suffered severely” in Pontiac's segregation unit, he “ ‘does not challenge' those conditions in this Southern District Court.” (Doc. 10, p. 31). He states that he ...

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