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Donley v. Hammers

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

February 5, 2018

BOB DONLEY, Plaintiff,
JUSTIN HAMMERS, et al. Defendants.



         This case is before the court for a merit review of the plaintiff's amended complaint. The court is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to screen the plaintiff's 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.

         In reviewing the amended complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

         Plaintiff alleges that, since filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus, Defendants Bleeker, Hammond, Williams and Hanlin, all prison guards, have retaliated against him by (1) forcing him to keep his legal documents in his property box, rather than on a shelf in his cell; (2) writing false disciplinary reports against him and yelling at him for walking out of line despite other inmates doing the same thing; (3) scattering his belonging around his cell during shakedowns; (4) seizing property he was authorized to have; (5) not giving him adequate law library time; and (6) separating him from his preferred cellmate, then assigning him to share a cell with several gang members and later with an inmate who smells bad and openly flouts prison rules.

         Plaintiff also alleges that prison psychologists have failed to fix his roommate problems to his satisfaction, that an Assistant Attorney General representing the warden in his habeas petition has disobeyed court orders in another case, and that he has sent grievances to Warden Hammers, apparently without receiving a response.

         Plaintiff states a retaliation claim against Defendant Bleeker, Hammond, Williams, and Hanlan. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 553 (7th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff also states a plausible retaliation claim against Warden Hammers based upon the warden's apparent knowledge of the situation gained via the grievance process and the alleged failure to remedy the problem. Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 781 (7th Cir. 2015).

         The remaining claims will be dismissed without prejudice as, although Plaintiff attempts to link the claims in his amended complaint under a general “campaign of harassment, ” Plaintiff's claims are either unrelated to the actions of Defendants Bleeker, Hammond, Williams, Hanlan, and Hammers, or they involve unrelated claims. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits.”); Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017) (“[D]istrict courts should not allow inmates to flout the rules for joining claims and defendants…or to circumvent the Prison Litigation Reform Act's fee requirements by combining multiple lawsuits into a single complaint.”).


         1. Plaintiff's motion to amend complaint (#11) is granted. Clerk is directed to docket the amended complaint attached to plaintiff's motion.

         2. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court finds that the plaintiff states an First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants Bleeker, Hammond, Williams, Hanlan, and Hammers. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         3. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the defendants before filing any motions, in order to give the defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. The plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the court.

         4. The court will attempt service on the defendants by mailing each defendant a waiver of service. The defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an answer. If the defendants have not filed answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, the plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After the defendants have been served, the court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         5. With respect to a defendant who no longer works at the address provided by the plaintiff, the entity for whom that defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the clerk said defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall be retained only by the clerk and shall not be maintained in the public docket nor disclosed by the clerk.

         6. The defendants shall file an answer within 60 days of the date the waiver is sent by the clerk. A motion to dismiss is not an answer. The answer should include all defenses appropriate under the Federal Rules. The answer and subsequent pleadings shall be to the issues and claims stated in this opinion. In general, an answer sets forth the defendants' positions. The court does not rule on the merits of those positions unless ...

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