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Podkulski v. Counselor Niepert

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 21, 2018

STEVE PODKULSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNSELOR NIEPERT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 2) and Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 3) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Plaintiff is a former inmate of Menard Correctional Center. He filed this action after his release from incarceration, and seeks damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged deprivation of his constitutional rights. (Doc. 2, pp. 5, 12).

         This case was originally filed under Podkulski v. Trost, et al., Case No. 17-cv-1284-NJR-DGW. Upon initial review of the Complaint, the Court determined that certain parties and claims were improperly joined. Therefore, the Court severed the claim against Niepert into this separate action. This claim was described as follows:

Count 5 - Niepert violated Plaintiff's rights when she refused to respond to Plaintiff's grievances.

         Factual Allegations and Severance

         According to Plaintiff's Complaint, he uses a wheelchair for mobility because he has a neurological condition that makes it difficult for him to walk. (Doc. 2, p. 3). When he arrived at Menard on May 6, 2017, Menard officials took the wheelchair away. Plaintiff was not given his prescribed seizure medication. He was not given necessary hygiene supplies to deal with his bladder and bowel incontinence, and he had nowhere other than the sink in his cell to clean himself.[1] (Doc. 2, p. 3). He requested to be placed in a single cell because he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks, but this request was denied. Plaintiff attempted suicide after being placed in a double cell.[2] (Doc. 2, pp. 3-4).

         Plaintiff filed grievances “on various occasions” with Niepert. (Doc. 2, p. 4). However, Niepert “deliberately did not file one single grievance that [Plaintiff] filed.” Id. Plaintiff kept a log of 14 grievances and mailed copies to other prison officials and to his lawyer so that he would have evidence of his attempts to exhaust his remedies. Id. He claims that Menard has a pattern, practice, and unwritten policy of “making grievances disappear, ” to ensure that inmates cannot complete the grievance process. (Doc. 2, pp. 4-5).

         The Court severed the claim against Niepert pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20, because Plaintiff did not specify the subjects of the grievances he filed or the dates when he filed them, and because he did not name Niepert in connection with any of his other claims. As a result, the Complaint does not provide grounds to join the claim against Niepert for failure to answer grievances with the claims against other defendants for deliberate indifference. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-6).

         Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), an indigent party may file and proceed with a lawsuit without pre-payment of the filing fee. However, a court can deny an indigent plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) or can dismiss a case if the action is clearly frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks money damages from an immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). This section in fact compels dismissal of the action if the Court finds that one of the listed criteria applies:

         Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . (B) the action or appeal-

(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune ...

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