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Moir v. Amdahl

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 19, 2017

DREW M. MOIR, #M-48561, Plaintiff,


          Herndon, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Drew M. Moir, an inmate currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), filed this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff asserts that his prayer rug was confiscated, interfering with the free exercise of his religious beliefs. Additionally, Plaintiff contends he has been retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff names Timothy J. Amdahl (a correctional officer), Michelle Neese (warden), and David Rains (warden).

         Plaintiff's Complaint was accompanied by a Motion for Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order. (Doc. 2). On August 3, 2017, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order was denied without prejudice. (Doc. 6). In light of the above, the Court treats Plaintiff's case as seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief at the close of the case.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 1) 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).

         The Complaint

         Prior to filing the instant action, Plaintiff filed a pro se civil rights action against numerous Robinson officials, including the three individuals named in this case. See Moir v. Amdahl et al., No. 3:17-cv-66-DRH-RJD (filed January 23, 2017). (Doc. 1, p. 3). In the instant action, Plaintiff contends Defendants are harassing him in retaliation for filing the prior lawsuit. The allegations of harassment include taking Plaintiff's property without justification (a prayer mat and a hot plate), false disciplinary charges, and a threat to remove Plaintiff from the transitions program.

         In late May or June 2017, Plaintiff was transferred from housing unit 5B to housing unit 5A, where Amdahl works. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff does not know why he was transferred to unit 5A. Id.

         On June 2, 2017, “correctional officers” conducted a shake-down of Plaintiff's living area and “stole” his hotpot. Id. On June 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the incident. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 2-3). On June 15, 2017, the grievance was denied. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Neither the Complaint nor the attached grievance references any of the Defendants in connection with this incident.

         On June 29, 2017, Amdahl “stole” Plaintiff's prayer rug. (Doc. 1, p. 3). That day (or the following day), Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the incident. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 6-7). According to the grievance, when Plaintiff returned to housing unit 5A from lunch, multiple inmates told him that Amdahl took Plaintiff's prayer rug. (Doc. 1-1, p. 6). Plaintiff went to the control area and observed his prayer rug laying “crumpled haphazardly” on the floor in the doorway of the staff restroom. Id. Plaintiff asked Amdahl why he took the prayer rug. Id. Amdahl responded, “I didn't take your prayer rag.” Plaintiff objected to Amdahl referring to his prayer rug as a rag. Id. Amdahl then told Plaintiff it was another inmate's prayer rug and refused to return it. (Doc. 1-1, p. 7). Plaintiff asked to speak with a lieutenant and requested a grievance slip. Id. Amdahl refused both requests. Id.

         Plaintiff contends that Amdahl is interfering with Plaintiff's right to freely practice his religion. (Doc. 1, p. 4). He also claims that the when Amdahl confiscated the prayer rug he had a retaliatory motive - he wanted to punish Plaintiff for filing grievances and the prior civil rights lawsuit. Id.

         Plaintiff also contends that Amdahl has retaliated against him by writing two false disciplinary tickets. (Doc. 1, p. 3). The first ticket was issued on June 29, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 3; Doc. 1-1, p. 13). A hearing was held regarding the ticket on June 30, 2017. (Doc. 1-1, p. 19). Plaintiff was accused with having a pillow on his bed that was assigned to another inmate. Id. Although Plaintiff denied the charge, he was adjudicated guilty and received seven days of commissary restriction. Id. Plaintiff filed grievances regarding the incident on July 1, 2017 (Doc. 1-1, pp. 11-12) and July 3, 2017 (Doc. 1-1, pp. 15-16). The second ticket was issued on ...

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