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Courtney v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 30, 2017




         Plaintiff James Courtney, previously incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 21, 2016. Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (Doc. 5). Plaintiff was given leave to file a First Amended Complaint, which he did on January 27, 2017. (Doc. 8). Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted on May 30, 2017. (Doc. 10). Plaintiff was given leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, which he did on June 22, 2017. (Doc. 17).

         In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that the defendants violated his state and federal constitutional rights by incarcerating him beyond the date he was eligible for mandatory supervised release (“MSR”). Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated. Therefore, this Court will conduct a preliminary review of the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), which provides:

Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal -
i. is frivolous or malicious;
ii. fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
iii. seeks monetary relief against 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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Second Amended Complaint

         In his Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 17), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: On October 4, 2013, he was told that he was “violated” by Defendant Christianson, the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) and “affiliates” and that he would not be allowed to leave on MSR. (Doc. 17, p. 7). Plaintiff claims that he immediately wrote to S.A. Godinez, the Director of IDOC, as well as Defendant Butler, complaining about his illegal incarceration and claiming that he had a parole site to which to parole. Id. He also wrote grievances to IDOC and its affiliates that “they [were] illegally holding [him] past [his] MSR out date (10-4-13) and that [he had] a good parole site” to parole to. (Doc. 17, pp. 7-8). Plaintiff also wrote grievances to Field Services “for not doing their jobs, ” claiming that he had a parole site and requesting, in the alternative, to be sent to the sex offenders' halfway house in East St. Louis. (Doc. 17, p. 8). Plaintiff had written to Field Services three or four months prior to his out-date informing them of his parole site. Id. IDOC sent offenders who are not sex offenders to the sex offender halfway house despite the fact that they had out-dates after his. Id. “IDOC and their affiliates [had] numerous halfway houses they could [have] sent [Plaintiff] to. They chose not to. Because what [Plaintiff] is labeled (child sex offender).” (Doc. 17, p. 9).

         On November 14, 2013, Plaintiff had a hearing with the parole board, which operates under the authority of Defendant Christianson. Id. Plaintiff was not provided notice prior to the day of the hearing. (Doc. 17, p. 10). A member of the parole board informed Plaintiff that all he had to do was write to field services and give them an address for parole in order to be released. (Doc. 17, p. 9). Plaintiff informed them that he had already done so in March or April 2013, but that he would do so again. Id. When Plaintiff returned to his cell, he again wrote to field services, giving them the same information. (Doc. 17, pp. 9-10).

         Plaintiff believes that each defendant along with IDOC and its affiliates retaliated against him due to his classification as a child sex offender and retaliated against him for grievances he wrote against corrections officers and field services “for not doing their jobs.” (Doc. 17, p. 10). Plaintiff alleges that he was held for an entire year past his MSR out date of October 4, 2013. (Doc. 17, p. 13). He requests monetary damages from the defendants. Id.


         Based on the allegations of the Second Amended Complaint, the Court will consider the counts it previously designated in this action that have not yet been dismissed with prejudice, as Plaintiff has brought the same claims in his Second Amended Complaint as he brought in previous iterations of his complaint. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion regarding their merit.

Count 1 - Defendants subjected Plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment contrary to the Eighth Amendment by failing to release him ...

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