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Singleton v. Mrs. Shook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 26, 2018

AVERY SINGLETON, #R29723, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Avery Singleton, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently incarcerated at Vienna Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants retaliated against him and violated his due process rights by issuing him a false disciplinary ticket and removing him from a culinary arts class, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 1).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the 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).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

          In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: around January 24, 2017, Plaintiff started in the culinary arts class at Robinson. (Doc. 1, p. 15). Defendant Shook was the instructor for the class. Id. On January 25, 2017, Plaintiff sought help from Shook with one of his assignments, and she “got upset because [Plaintiff] was continually coming to her desk in the front of the class asking her questions about the math assignments that she did not know the answers to.” Id. Shook told Plaintiff to “just do them” in a “very hostile manner.” Id. After Plaintiff saw Shook and the teacher's aide talking and pointing at him, he asked the aide what Shook had said, and he replied, “Mrs. Shook said that you are needy.” (Doc. 1, pp. 15-16). After this occurred, Shook “began to single [Plaintiff] out.” (Doc. 1, p. 16).

         On January 26, 2017, Plaintiff “was observing the class as the senior students were prepping their food for the presentation. [He] noticed that the students did not have the scale calibrated to zero as instructed, so [he] brought it to Mrs. Shook's attention.” Id. Shook replied that she did not need Plaintiff's input, and she told him to go elsewhere because he should not be standing by a certain door. Id. “All of the other students were standing there and Mrs. Shook did not say to them to leave the area.” Id. Later, while Plaintiff was observing the senior students, Shook shouted at him that he was supposed to be washing the dishes, though Plaintiff had just finished washing them. Id. Shook told him to stay in the dishwashing area. Id.

         On January 27, 2017, Plaintiff washed the dishes while all the other students were preparing for their final presentations or observing those preparing. (Doc. 1, p. 17). Once Plaintiff finished washing the dishes, Shook instructed him to set up the tables. Id. He followed Shook to the front of the class because he thought she was going to show him how to set the tables up. Id. When Shook noticed him, he told her that he did not know how to set up the tables. Id. She told him to ask one of his classmates and to stop following her. Id. When Plaintiff finished setting up the tables, he went back to the dishwashing area and proceeded to dry the dishes another inmate had washed. Id. Shook noticed that Plaintiff was drying the dishes and told him that he was going to wash the dishes that evening. Id. Plaintiff then responded that he had been washing dishes all morning and that it would not be a problem. Id.

         Plaintiff went to Defendant Klier's office to tell him, for the second time, that Shook had been singling him out in class and making him feel uncomfortable. (Doc. 1, p. 18). On January 25, 2017, Plaintiff had written a grievance regarding the issue and had also informed Klier. Id. Plaintiff assumes Klier spoke to Shook about Plaintiff's complaints, because Shook held Plaintiff after class on January 29 to ...

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