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Battle v. Wheat

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

December 12, 2017

JOVAN MIGUEL BATTLE, Plaintiff,
v.
JENNY WHEAT, et al., Defendants

          ORDER

          JAMES E. SHADID UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff's second motion for leave to file an amended complaint. [9]

         Plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, filed his original 25 page complaint with 42 pages of exhibits. [1] One month later, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint. [6]. Plaintiff's first motion for leave to amend included an additional 56 pages of exhibits, but it did include a proposed complaint. Therefore, the Court dismissed the motion for leave to amend, and instead considered the claims in the original complaint. See September 21, 2017 Merit Review Order.

         Plaintiff alleged eight Defendants at the East Moline Correctional Center (EMCC) violated his First Amendment rights when they denied him meaningful access to the Courts. However, the Court was unable to decipher Plaintiff's specific claim. See September 21, 2017 Merit Review Order.

         For instance, Plaintiff alleged he missed a filing deadline in another Central District of Illinois case. However, a review of the docket in that lawsuit found there was no such deadline, and the case was not dismissed until after Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. See September 21, 2017 Merit Review Order, p. 2-3.

         Plaintiff also alleged he missed a deadline in a class action lawsuit in which he was represented by counsel. However, it was unclear how Defendants interfered with Plaintiff's litigation when he admitted he was represented by counsel who was responsible for those deadlines. See September 21, 2017 Merit Review Order, p. 3.

         Plaintiff also made vague reference to problems obtaining legal envelopes and the inadequacy of the law library, but he failed to articulate a constitutional violation and he failed to allege how any of the named Defendants were involved in his claims. See September 21, 2017 Merit Review Order, p. 3-4.

         Therefore, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, but allowed Plaintiff additional time to file a second amended complaint clarifying his claims. Plaintiff was also provided instructions to assist him. For instance, Plaintiff was directed to provide numbered paragraphs.

For each paragraph, Plaintiff must state what specific claim he was prevented from pursuing, how he was hindered from pursing his claim, approximately when it occurred, and how an Defendant was involved. For instance, if Plaintiff was denied relevant case law, he must state when he requested assistance, who denied assistance, and how the denial specifically impacted his claim. September 21, 2017 Merit Review Order, p. 4.

         Plaintiff was further admonished in order to state a constitutional violation, a complaint “must spell out, in minimal detail, the connection between the alleged denial of access to legal materials and an inability to pursue a legitimate challenge to a conviction, sentence, or prison conditions.” September 21, 2017 Merit Review Order, p. 2 quoting Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 671 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff has now filed his motion for leave to file a second amended complaint which is granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. [9].

         The Court is still required by 28 U.S.C. §1915A to “screen” the Plaintiff's second amended complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A.

         Plaintiff's second amended complaint identifies eight Defendants including Education Department Supervisor Jenny Wheat, Former Librarian Joshua Baker, Warden Christine Brannon, Administrator Jason Garza, “Warden of Programs” Jane Doe, Administrator Todd Jackson, the East Moline Correctional Center, and the Illinois Department of Corrections. Plaintiff says he is suing pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violations of his Fourteenth Amendment and First Amendment rights “as well as a true deliberate indifference as well (prison condition).” (Sec. Amd. Comp., p. 1).

         The Court notes throughout his complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants Wheat, Battle, Brannon, Jackson, and Garza either failed to properly respond to his grievances, lied in relation to his grievances, or ignored his ...


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