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Beschorner v. Waggoner

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 26, 2018




         Plaintiff Stanley Beschorner is a former inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”). He filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after he was released from prison on parole.[1] Plaintiff claims that IDOC officials miscalculated his sentence and delayed his release from Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”) by 85 days. (Doc. 1). In connection with this claim, Plaintiff names James Baldwin (IDOC director) and Stephanie Waggoner (prison warden) as defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 1). He seeks monetary damages. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Motion”) under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (Doc. 2). Because he was on parole when he filed this action, Plaintiff was not a “prisoner, ” as that term is defined under the in forma pauperis statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h). Section 1915(h) defines “prisoner” as “any person incarcerated or detained in any facility who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h). Even so, a federal district court may allow a civil case to proceed without prepayment of fees, if the movant “submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets [he] possesses [showing] that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).

         The Court is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to deny IFP and dismiss the Complaint at any time, however, if: (1) the allegation of poverty is untrue; (2) the action is frivolous; (3) the action fails to state a claim; or (4) the action seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1018 (7th Cir. 2013). 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). 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). 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).


         For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the IFP Motion and dismiss the Complaint. Plaintiff will have an opportunity to renew his request for IFP, however, by filing an updated IFP Motion. He also will have an opportunity to re-plead his claims by filing an amended complaint.

         1. IFP Motion

         Plaintiff did not submit a complete IFP application. (Doc. 2). He answered most questions in the application from the standpoint of an incarcerated person, despite the fact that he filed this lawsuit six weeks after he was released on parole. For example, Plaintiff disclosed income of $15.00 per month as an inmate porter. (Doc. 2, p. 1). He disclosed withdrawals from his institutional trust fund account “only for commissary purpose[s].” (Doc. 2, p. 2). Unfortunately, however, he did not provide a copy of his trust fund account statement or information about his trust fund balance, citing the fact that he was “released.” (Doc. 2, p. 1). In his Motion for Recruitment of Counsel, Plaintiff indicated that his financial status has changed and warrants an amendment to his IFP application. (Doc. 3, p. 2). Again, however, he did not provide the Court with an amended application. Further, Plaintiff described himself in the Complaint as a “potential employee of Peoria Tube Forming Corp.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff indicates that he made $18.60 per hour when he worked there prior to his incarceration and seeks this amount as compensation for the 85 days he was held beyond his correct parole date. Id. If he was employed there-or anywhere else-after being released on parole, Plaintiff should have disclosed this information.

         Given his omission of all post-release financial information in the IFP application, the Court is unable to determine whether Plaintiff was indigent on February 14, 2018. For this reason, the IFP Motion shall be denied without prejudice. Plaintiff may either resubmit a properly completed IFP Motion or prepay the full $400.00 filing fee for this action within 28 days, if he wishes to proceed. Failure to do one or the other shall result in dismissal of this action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).

         2. Dismissal of Complaint Under § 1915(e)(2)

         The Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (mandating denial of IFP and dismissal of complaint under circumstances that include the failure to state a claim for relief). According to the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff was convicted of driving with a revoked license in Woodford County Case Nos. 15-CF-166 and 16-CF-86. (Doc. 1, p. 4). He was sentenced to 18 months in IDOC custody and received 84 days of credit for time served in Woodford County Case No. 15-CF-166. (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 10). He received a sentence of 18 months in IDOC custody, 85 days of credit for time served, and one year of mandatory supervised release in Woodford County Case No. 16-CF-86. Id. Plaintiff served his sentence at Vandalia beginning on October 18, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Plaintiff alleges that IDOC officials failed to follow the state court's sentencing order when calculating his sentence. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Approximately two months after he arrived at Vandalia, Plaintiff learned that he was only given credit for 85 days, when he should have received credit for 85 days against one sentence and 84 days against the other. (Doc. 1, p. 5). When Plaintiff attempted to address the matter through the grievance process, he was initially unsuccessful. Id. The Administrative Review Board (“A.R.B.”) allegedly denied his grievance and appeal as untimely. Id.

         Plaintiff filed a motion seeking clarification of the sentencing order in state court, and a hearing was scheduled on April 25, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-23). The trial judge explained that he “entered an order indicating that the two consecutive sentences imposed upon [Plaintiff] are to be - are to run consecutive as the order previously states, and that the credit afforded to [Plaintiff] for time previously served shall also be calculated in that manner, i.e., as two separate sentences.” (Doc. 1, pp. 12, 17).

         Plaintiff filed what appears to be a second round of grievances beginning on or around September 20, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 9). In a response dated September 22, 2017, a prison grievance counselor indicated that the IDOC was in the process of seeking clarification from the court and could not resolve the grievance at that time. Id. On November 7, 2017, Plaintiff's appeal was subsequently denied because it was still considered untimely and because Plaintiff provided no additional “justification . . . for additional consideration” by the A.R.B. (Doc. 1, p. ...

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