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Edwards v. Selby

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 26, 2018

CELESTER EDWARDS, #B-60954, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Celester Edwards, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently housed at Danville Correctional Center, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff brings allegations pertaining to his incarceration at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). (Doc. 1). In connection with his claims, Plaintiff sues Karen Jaimet (Pinckneyville's Warden), J. Selby (Counselor), Spiller (Correctional Officer), and D. Flatt (Grievance Officer). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and any further relief that the Court deems just. (Doc. 1, p.11).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review[1] 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).

         The Complaint

          On June 16, 2017, Spiller attempted to deliver Plaintiff's legal mail (see Doc. 1, p. 6), but Plaintiff was not in his cell. Id. Later that evening, on two occasions, Plaintiff asked Spiller for his mail. Id. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). On both occasions, Spiller indicated he would give Plaintiff his mail later. Id. On June 17, 2017, Spiller told Plaintiff he could not find his legal mail. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Spiller told Plaintiff he would look for the mail and try to get it to Plaintiff that evening. Id. When Plaintiff followed up with Spiller, Spiller said, “I haven't found it yet, but you will have it before I leave tonight.” Id. Plaintiff did not receive his legal mail. Id.

         On June 26, 2017, Plaintiff received a letter from the attorney handling the appeal in his criminal case. (Doc. 1, p. 8; Doc. 1-1, p. 12). The attorney confirmed that he did send Plaintiff a letter dated June 13, 2017 (apparently the legal mail that Spiller misplaced). Id. The attorney also included a copy of the misplaced letter. Id. On June 29, 2017, Plaintiff received an order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois pertaining to his then pending civil rights action; Edwards v. City of Chicago, No. 17-cv-3637 (N.D. Ill). (Doc. 1, p. 8; Doc. 1-1, p. 13). The order stated:

Reference is made to Plaintiff's letter and change-of-address notice dated June 18, 2017 (Doc. 11). The court directs the Clerk to re-mail a copy of the Order of June 12, 2017 (Doc. 10) to Plaintiff at his new address. On the Court's own motion, the deadline for paying the full statutory filing fee of $400.00 is extended to August 18, 2017. Failure to remit the filing fee by the extended deadline will result in summary dismissal of this case.

Edwards v. City of Chicago, No. 17-cv-3637, Doc. 12. Plaintiff's action was subsequently dismissed as time-barred. Edwards v. City of Chicago, No. 17-cv-3637 (N.D. Ill) (Doc. 15).

         On June 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding his lost legal mail. Id. No one responded to Plaintiff's grievance. (Doc. 1, p. 7). On July 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance pertaining to the lost legal mail. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff did not receive a response from Jaimet. Id. Accordingly, on August 4, 2017, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Flatt asking about the status of his emergency grievance. Id. He did not receive a response.

         Plaintiff alleges that Spiller retaliated against him for filing grievances pertaining to the lost legal mail. (Doc. 1, p. 8). While incarcerated at Pinckneyville, Plaintiff served as an ADA assistant for disabled inmates. Id. On July 20 and July 21, 2017, Plaintiff transported disabled inmates to various locations at Pinckneyville. It was extremely hot on both days, and when Plaintiff returned from transporting the disabled inmates, he was exhausted and dehydrated. (Doc. 1, p. 9). On both days, Spiller denied Plaintiff a shower and ice. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Plaintiff claims Spiller denied him a shower and ice as retaliation for Plaintiff filing grievances in June regarding the misplaced legal mail. Id.

         Finally, Plaintiff claims that Selby and Flatt failed to properly investigate his grievances pertaining to Spiller. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Specifically, both defendants failed to interview witnesses requested by Plaintiff before concluding that Plaintiff's grievances were unsubstantiated. Id. ...

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