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Morris v. Engelage

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 2, 2018

ROBERT E. MORRIS, # R-71372, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.

         In Morris v. Lee, Case No. 17-cv-857-NJR (S.D. Ill. Aug. 14, 2017), Plaintiff Robert Morris, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brought suit for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007), two claims against Defendant Engelage were severed from that initial action to form the basis for this action, Case No. 17-cv-1167-NJR. On November 28, 2017, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 6). Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on January 8, 2018. (Doc. 9).

         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).

         After fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and any exhibits, the Court concludes that this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The First Amended Complaint

         In his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 9), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: on December 31, 2016, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Engelage, an Emergency Medical Technician (“EMT”), who was accompanied by Officer John Doe. (Doc. 9, p. 11). Engelage attempted to complete a tuberculosis test. Id. Plaintiff pleaded with Officer John Doe and Engelage that the way Engelage wanted to perform the test was illegal, unjust, and unsanitary. Id. Officer John Doe, who had no security training, told Plaintiff that he was “allowing her (EMT Reva) to do her own thing, ” noting that “[s]he's been doing this for years. Can't no inmate tell me anything different.” Id. Plaintiff then showed Engelage and Officer John Doe the rulebook where it outlines how forensic tests are to be conducted in sanitary and safe conditions. Id. Plaintiff refused to comply with the test because Engelage wanted to perform it using the “chuckhole” in Plaintiff's cell. Id. Plaintiff contends that conducting a tuberculosis test in this manner is unsanitary because Plaintiff and his cellmate receive their food through the chuckhole, and the chuckhole could contain “micro-miniature blood splatter.” Id. Upon Plaintiff's refusal, Officer John Doe and Engelage told Plaintiff to pack his things for segregation. Id.

         Once housed in segregation, Plaintiff was seen by the Adjustment Committee Hearing Board and Lieutenant Brookman. Id. The Adjustment Committee Final Summary Report from the incident, which Plaintiff attached as an exhibit to the original Complaint and requested to be attached to his First Amended Complaint, indicates that Engelage issued Plaintiff the disciplinary ticket for “failure to submit to medical/forensic test.” (Doc. 2, p. 25). The ticket was dismissed and expunged by committee members Brookman and Hart on January 4, 2017. Id. The report indicates that it was served on Plaintiff by Yvette Baker on January 27, 2017. Id. Plaintiff claims he was left in segregation wrongfully “because the authorized correctional officials didn't release Plaintiff until he had sat for 6 full days.” (Doc. 9, p. 11).

         On May 9, 2017, Plaintiff submitted an inmate money voucher to the records office requesting several documents, including Plaintiff's disciplinary ticket from December 31, 2016. (Doc. 9, p. 12). Inside the envelope was a letter to Defendant Trisha Lawrence and the Records Office. Id. On this letter, Lawrence indicated that Plaintiff's ticket was “not in file.” Id. On May 18, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a grievance to Defendant Counselor Wood about his May 9, 2017 request for his December 31, 2016 disciplinary report. (Doc. 9, p. 13). Wood responded to the grievance, noting that the issue was “out of time frame” and that there was no inmate disciplinary report for December 31, 2016. Id. Plaintiff believes this to be a cover-up. Id.

         On September 6, 2017, Plaintiff received a grievance response from Defendant Grievance Officer John/Jane Doe in relation to his letter to the Grievance Office on August 31, 2017, and to the Records Office September 7, 2017. Id. John/Jane Doe “toyed around with Plaintiff and his request because [he or she] wanted to void all documents and filings ...

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