United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. WILKERSON Magistrate Judge
December 19, 2017 Plaintiff Fabian Santiago filed an Amended
Complaint (Doc. 18). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court
is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out
non-meritorious claims. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court finds none of the claims in Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint survive threshold review.
Fabian Santiago filed the current action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging a publication he had ordered was
improperly withheld from him and destroyed, and that three
items of legal correspondence were improperly opened outside
his presence (Doc. 6, p. 1). The Court identified
Santiago's Complaint to allege the following claims:
Count 1: First Amendment claim against
Bradley for confiscating Plaintiff's “prison legal
news” publication without reasonable justification, and
against Rowald, Wandro, Jones, Phoenix, and Baldwin for
failing to take corrective action in response to
Count 2: Claims against John/Jane Doe #1
(mail handler) and John/Jane Doe #2 (mailing supervisor) for
improperly opening and inspecting 2 letters from law firms
and 1 package from Moran Law Group, and against Meyer,
Oakley, Lashbrook, Power, Phoenix, and Baldwin for failing to
take corrective action in response to Plaintiff's
Court conducted a revue of the original Complaint pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, dismissed the claims in Count 2 in
totality, and dismissed the claims in Count 1 against
Defendants Rowald, Wandro, Jones, Phoenix, and Baldwin (Doc.
6, pp. 6-7). Defendant Baldwin was ordered to remain as a
Defendant in his official capacity solely for purposes of
injunctive relief. Thus, the only claim remaining after the
Court's threshold review was a First Amendment claim
against Bradley for confiscating Plaintiff's
“prison legal news” publication without
reasonable justification (Doc. 6).
November 14, 2017, Santiago filed a Motion to alter, amend,
or modify the Court's threshold merits review order (Doc.
6). Specifically, he sought to reinstate claims against the
Defendants who were dismissed from the action and to
reinstate Count 2 - the claims regarding opening of legal
mail. The request for reconsider was denied (Doc. 25).
December 19, 2017 Santiago filed the Amended Complaint (Doc.
18) that is currently under review.
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that a party may amend
a pleading, and that leave to amend should be freely given
when justice so requires. This Circuit recognizes “the
complaint merely serves to put the defendant on notice and is
to be freely amended or constructively amended as the case
develops, as long as amendments do not unfairly surprise or
prejudice the defendant.” Toth v. USX Corp.,
883 F.2d 1297, 1298 (7th Cir. 1989). Accordingly, the Court
is to liberally allow amendment of pleadings “so that
cases may be decided on the merits and not on the basis of
technicalities.” Stern v. U.S. Gypsum, Inc.,
547 F.2d 1329, 1334 (7th Cir. 1977).
28 U.S.C. §1915A directs the District Court to screen
complaints filed by prisoners and “identify cognizable
claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the
complaint” if the complaint “is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted” or if it “seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.”
with Legal Communications
once again raises a claim alleging the mailroom staff
improperly opened his legal mail. As this Court has repeatedly
explained, in order for privileged attorney-client
correspondence to receive the special treatment of being
opened only in the inmate's presence, the envelope must
be clearly marked with a warning that the letter is
“legal mail, ” “privileged legal
correspondence, ” or some similar notice that draws
attention to its confidential nature. Wolff v.
McDonnell,418 U.S. 539, 576 (1974). The sender of a
legal communication which is intended to be treated as
privileged lawyer-client correspondence has the burden of
clearly labeling it as such. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 576.
The mere fact that an envelope bears the return address of a
law office is not sufficient to alert prison officials that
the contents are privileged and should be opened only in the
presence of the ...