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Bentz v. Hoppensted

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 29, 2018

DAVID ROBERT BENTZ, #S03210, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES HOPPENSTED, JOSHUA BERNER, VERGIL SMITH, DONALD LINDENBERG, CHRISTOPHER FLEMING, N. BERRY, ANTHONY WILLS, ZANG, C. MAYER, SGT. HARRIS, MR. CONNER, HAYSEMEYER, WHITLEY, WILLIAM QUALLS, TONYA KNUST, LORI OAKLEY, G. MAYHUGH, C/O WEBB, C/O MARTIN, JOHN DOE #1, KENT BROOKMAN, JASON HART, and SUSAN HILL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff David Bentz, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on June 23, 2017. (Doc. 1). Pursuant to this Court's Order at Doc. 15, plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) was dismissed without prejudice for failure to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff was also appointed counsel and ordered to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 15). Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint, by and through counsel, on December 29, 2017. (Doc. 30). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the First Amended Complaint 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 such relief.

         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). 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).

         The Court incorporates by reference the facts articulated in the First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 30). Upon careful review of the First Amended Complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         Discussion

         The First Amended Complaint divides this action into 6 counts, outlined below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court.

Count 1 - In April 2015, Berner, Smith, Lindenberg, and Fleming retaliated against Plaintiff for filing grievances and lawsuits by detaining and destroying Plaintiff's personal items, law books, and legal files, in violation of the First Amendment.
Count 2 - On June 27, 2016, in retaliation for Plaintiff filing grievances, Hoppensted, Webb, Martin, and John Doe #1 subjected Plaintiff to excessive force, or failed to intervene in the use of excessive force against Plaintiff, in violation of the Eighth[1] and First Amendments.
Count 3 - In July 2016, Hoppensted, Brookman, and Hart placed Plaintiff in punitive segregation without due process in retaliation for his filing lawsuits and grievances in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Count 4 - From April 2015 to August 2015, Berner, Smith, Lindenberg, Fleming, Berry, Wills, Zang, Mayer, Harris, Conner, Haysemeyer, Hoppensted, Whitley, Qualls, Knust, Oakley, and Mayhugh subjected Plaintiff to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in retaliation for his filing lawsuits and ...

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