United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
SHANE A. KITTERMAN, #B-80577, Plaintiff,
JEFF DENNISON, JASON GARNETT, JOHANNE HOSCH, GLOBAL TEL-LINK CORP, CHRISTOPHER BRINKLEY, JOHN BALDWIN, CIARA HALL, OFFICER DUNNE, OFFICER SAMMS, OFFICER EDWARDS and YOLLANDA HARRINGTON, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is now before the Court for consideration of the most
recent version of Plaintiff Shane Kitterman's First
Amended Complaint. (Doc. 22). Plaintiff is currently
incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional Center
(“Shawnee”). On March 20, 2017, he originally
brought this action for miscellaneous deprivations of his
constitutional rights at Big Muddy River Correctional Center
(“Big Muddy”) and Shawnee Correctional Center
(“Shawnee”) pursuant to “42 U.S.C.
§§ 1331(1) and 1343.” (Doc. 1). The original
Complaint took a largely scattershot approach. Id.
It focused, if at all, on claims of retaliation by officials
at Big Muddy and Shawnee that resulted from Plaintiff's
decision to challenge Big Muddy's video visitation
program. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-5).
Complaint did not survive preliminary review, and the Court
dismissed it without prejudice on May 22, 2017. (Doc. 8).
Plaintiff was granted leave to file a First Amended Complaint
on or before June 19, 2017. Id. He was specifically
instructed to focus his First Amended Complaint on related
claims against the same group(s) of defendants and warned
that “[c]laims found to be unrelated will be
further severed into new cases, new case numbers will be
assigned, and additional filing fees will be
assessed.” (Doc. 8, p. 14) (emphasis in
the next three months, Plaintiff filed a steady stream of
amended complaints (Docs. 11, 12 and 22) and supplements
(Docs. 16, 17 and 19). Plaintiff interspersed these amendments
and supplements with numerous motions seeking injunctive
relief (Docs. 13 and 20), which the Court immediately took up
and addressed. (Docs. 15 and 21). At the same time, the Court
repeatedly ordered Plaintiff to select a single First Amended
Complaint for use in this action. (Doc. 14, 18 and 25). The
final deadline for making this decision was August 29, 2017.
(Doc. 25). Just before the deadline expired, Plaintiff filed
the First Amended Complaint that is identified as Document 22
in CM/ECF. In an Order dated October 5, 2017, the Court
accepted Document 22 as the operative First Amended Complaint
in this matter. (Doc. 28).
First Amended Complaint at Document 22 supersedes and
replaces all prior versions of the Complaint, rendering all
other versions VOID. See Flannery v.
Recording Indus. Ass'n of Am., 354 F.3d
632, 638 n. 1 (7th Cir. 2004). The First Amended Complaint
(Doc. 22) is now subject to screening 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
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). As part of this Screening Order, the Court will also
consider whether any claims in the First Amended Complaint
are improperly joined in this action and are subject to
severance or dismissal. See George v. Smith, 507
F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
Amended Complaint (Doc. 22)
First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has again taken a
scattershot approach to his claims against the defendants by
filing what amounts to an omnibus complaint. He names
officials at two different prisons in connection with
numerous unrelated claims. The Court has done its best to
organize and summarize the allegations against the defendants
herein. In the process, it has become clear that many claims
and defendants are improperly joined in this action and are
subject to severance or dismissal. Against this backdrop, the
Court summarizes the allegations against officials at each
entered Big Muddy on January 19, 2016. (Doc. 22, p. 6). At
the time, the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) was allegedly under contract with Global
Tel-Link Corp (“GTL”) to provide inmates with
video visitation. Id. Warden Garnett and Assistant
Warden Harrington distributed flyers to inmates at Big Middy
explaining that the IDOC “partnered with ‘Global
Tel-Link Corp' (‘GTL') to provide ‘New
Media Services' to offenders.” (Doc. 22, p. 7).
Inmates who were interested in utilizing these services to
visit with friends and family were first required to provide
a “certain sum of money” in exchange for a new
electronic device that was capable of remote video
visitation. (Doc. 22, p. 6). Inmates were required to wait up
to four weeks from the date of purchase for delivery of the
device. (Doc. 22, p. 7).
placed an order for the device with an unknown employee in
the prison's commissary on March 16, 2016. (Doc. 22, pp.
7-8). The employee was supervised by Warden Garnett and
Assistant Warden Harrington. Id. At the time,
Plaintiff was given no instructions for canceling the
transaction. Id. He also received no information
about warranties on the device. (Doc. 22, p. 7).
Plaintiff's trust fund account reflected a deduction of
$74.99 for an MP3 player and $32.00 for “credits to
purchase music.” (Doc. 22, p. 8).
retrieved the MP3 player from the prison's commissary
thirty-two days after the transaction was processed. (Doc.
22, p. 8). He and several hundred other inmate consumers soon
discovered what Plaintiff characterized as “an act of
theft by deception” on the part of GTL and the IDOC.
Id. The media devices were not new. Id.
They were “used, defective, and unmerchantable.”
(Doc. 22, pp. 8-9). When Plaintiff tried to return his MP3
player and cancel the original transaction, an IDOC employee
refused to cancel the transaction or issue him a refund
because the seven-day return period had expired. (Doc. 22, p.
9). Plaintiff later learned that he had only seven days from
the date of purchase to recover damages to or resulting from
the device. (Doc. 22, p. 8).
immediately filed grievances and complaints with Warden
Garnett and Assistant Warden Harrington, but they refused to
take any action to assist him. (Doc. 22, p. 9). He wrote
letters to IDOC Director John Baldwin, but his letters went
unanswered. Id. Plaintiff then assisted other
inmates in filing grievances, letters and lawsuits against
IDOC Director Baldwin, Warden Garnett, Assistant Warden
Harrington, GTL, “commissary” and “personal
property.” (Doc. 22, p. 10).
soon became the target of Ciara Hall, an IDOC employee who
was also a GTL liaison. (Doc. 22, p. 10). When Plaintiff
refused to surrender his device to Hall without first
receiving assurance from her that he would receive a full
refund, Hall allegedly told Plaintiff to address the issue
with GTL and then “fabricated allegations against the
plaintiff.” (Doc. 22, p. 11). Although Plaintiff
alleges that the prison offered a “kiosk” for
direct communications between inmates and GTL, he describes
no efforts on his part to address the matter with GTL.
Id. He also fails to provide any examples of
Hall's “fabricated allegations” or
retaliation against him. Id.
time, Plaintiff was employed as a law clerk at Big
Muddy's law library, and was also enrolled in vocational
classes, substance abuse classes and parenting skills classes
at the prison. (Doc. 22, p. 11). While working as a law
clerk, Plaintiff assisted his fellow inmates in preparing and
filing grievances and lawsuits to challenge Big Muddy's
video visitation program. (Doc. 22, p. 12). At some point,
Warden Garnett, Assistant Warden Harrington, Hall and GTL
placed Plaintiff in segregation for “several
days” in retaliation for filing these grievances and
complaints. (Doc. 22, p. 15).
working at the law library in September 2016, Plaintiff
observed Johanne Hosch, his work supervisor, engage in sexual
misconduct with an inmate. (Doc. 22, p. 12). Plaintiff
indicates that this was one of three reported incidents.
Id. He reported his observations in a grievance
filed pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Id. Although Christopher Brinkley was assigned to
investigate Plaintiff's report of sexual misconduct,
Hosch “self-processed” the grievance. (Doc. 22,
p. 13). After she became aware that Plaintiff reported her
for misconduct, Hosch removed Plaintiff from his job, his
educational classes and his rehabilitative programs. (Doc.
22, pp. 13, 23).
Pfeimeister and Lasiter began to threaten Plaintiff. (Doc.
22, p. 13). Although he reported these unspecified threats to
Warden Garnett, Assistant Warden Harrington and Brinkley,
they ignored Plaintiff's reports. Id. At some
point, Officer Lasiter and possibly Officer Pfeimeister
“assaulted” Plaintiff while he walked to the chow
hall. (Doc. 22, p. 16). Plaintiff offers no information about
the assault, other than to allege that it happened.
Id. He adds that the officers assaulted him
“at the behest of Hosch in retaliation for revealing
her sexual misconduct.” (Doc. 22, p. 14).
filed grievances to complain about the “assault.”
(Doc. 22, p. 14). All of Plaintiff's grievances were
“confiscated” by Brinkley. Id. When
Brinkley confirmed that Plaintiff's report of sexual
misconduct against Hosch was true, Brinkley also retaliated
against Plaintiff. Id. Hosch warned Plaintiff to
stop making “all” reports of sexual misconduct by
IDOC employees and threatened “severe punishment”
for further reports. (Doc. 22, pp. 14-15). Plaintiff ignored
these threats and continued filing grievances. (Doc. 22, p.
15). He also submitted a request for a transfer to a prison
“similar in distance [to] his family and with similar
programs.” (Doc. 22, p. 14). His request was denied
after the IDOC determined that he was “properly
placed.” Id. However, Warden Garnett and
Assistant Warden Harrington decided to transfer Plaintiff
after GTL informed both wardens on January 10, 2017 about a
pending suit Plaintiff filed against them in Jefferson
County, Illinois. (Doc. 22, p. 16). The wardens ordered a
disciplinary transfer, and Plaintiff was sent to Shawnee.
Plaintiff's arrival at the new facility, Warden Dennison
was “verbally alerted” by “defendants (sic)
agents” that Plaintiff was as a “grievance
writer.” (Doc. 22, p. 17). In response, Warden Dennison
instructed an officer to strip search Plaintiff. Id.
During the search, the officer used his security wand to hit
Plaintiff in his stomach. Id. When Plaintiff
screamed out in pain, Warden Dennison warned him that he
would “be sorry” if he “continue[d] to
write grievances.” Id. Plaintiff allegedly
became “overwhelmed by mental anguish and sick with
depression.” Id. He sought mental health
treatment in the prison's mental health unit.
April and July 2017, after filing this lawsuit, Plaintiff
allegedly became the target of assault by corrections
officers at Shawnee. (Doc. 22, p. 18). He describes one of
these assaults by Officer Dunne. Sometime during this time
period, the officer ordered Plaintiff to remove his clothing
during a routine strip search conducted pursuant to
“normal practices” while preparing for a
scheduled visit. Id. While searching Plaintiff,
Officer Dunne allegedly fondled his genitals. Id.
Plaintiff was afraid for his safety. Id. He remained
quiet until he felt safe enough to report the incident to a
mental health care provider, who prepared a report. (Doc. 22,
p. 19). When Officer Dunne learned about Plaintiff's
report, he removed a property box from another inmate's
cell and threw it at Plaintiff. Id. He also reported
this incident. Id.
13, 2017, Officer Dunne instructed Officer Samms and Officer
Edwards to “[d]eadlock” Plaintiff in his cell and
deprive him of food, water, exercise, and contact. (Doc. 22,
p. 19). Plaintiff does not indicate whether they carried out
these orders or describe how long he was subject to these
deprivations. Id. He simply alleges that he was
placed in solitary confinement for “several days,
” after his wife complained to internal affairs. (Doc.
22, pp. 19-20). Plaintiff allegedly continued to receive
threats from Officer Dunne, but he offers no information
about the dates, frequency, or nature of these threats. (Doc.
22, p. 20). Plaintiff “reached out” to IDOC
Director Baldwin and Warden Campbell in an attempt to inform
them about “what [wa]s happening.” Id.
They ignored his letters. Id.
complains that GTL and the IDOC are now working with Warden
Dennison to confiscate old MP3 players, in an attempt to
prevent inmates from recovering any money for their defective
devices. (Doc. 22, p. 21). Inmates are encouraged to return
defective devices to GTL for a refund and to purchase a
“new” MP3 player. Id. However, inmates
who return their defective devices are not actually given a
refund and are encouraged to re-purchase used devices.
Id. Plaintiff maintains that it has become the
policy of GTL, IDOC and Warden Dennison to punish any inmate
who “challenge[s] the pecuniary interests” of the
IDOC and GTL. (Doc. 22, p. 22).
request for relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against
the defendants. (Doc. 22, p. 24). In addition, he seeks
“injunctive relief to stop the unfair and deceptive
business practices by IDOC and partner GTL.”
Id. He does not request any form of emergency relief
in the First Amended Complaint. Id.
facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in
this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it
appropriate to organize the claims in Plaintiff's pro
se First Amended Complaint into the following counts:
Count 1 - Fourteenth Amendment claim against
GTL, IDOC Director Baldwin, Warden Garnett, Assistant Warden
Harrington, and Ciara Hall for denying Plaintiff access to
video visitation with his family by providing him with a used
and/or defective MP3 ...