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Wright v. Doe

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

May 14, 2018

EUGENE WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE, et al. Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW ORDER

          HAROLD A. BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is before the court for a merit review of the plaintiff's claims. The court is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to “screen” the plaintiff's complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(citation omitted).

         Plaintiff alleges that, while he was incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center (“Danville”), prison officials did not respond to his requests to be placed on a list of inmates who observe Ramadan. When Plaintiff's inquired as to the status of this request, he alleges that prison officials told him his request was not timely.

         Plaintiff states a claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a), and the First Amendment's free exercise clause for the alleged refusal to accommodate his religious beliefs. See Holt v. Hobbs, 135 S.Ct. 853 (2015). Plaintiff identified the warden as a John Doe defendant. Accordingly, the Court will substitute Victor Calloway, Danville's warden, for Defendant John Doe (warden).

         Defendants John Doe (grievance officer) and IDOC will be dismissed as no plausible inference arises that the grievance officer was responsible for the deprivation Plaintiff suffered, and because IDOC is not amenable to suit. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the violation.”); Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“[N]either a State[, ] nor its officials acting in their official capacities are “persons” under § 1983.”).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

         1. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court finds that the plaintiff states a claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a), and the First Amendment's free exercise clause against Victor Calloway and Defendant John Doe (chaplain). Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the defendants before filing any motions, in order to give the defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. The plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the court.

         3. The court will attempt service on the defendants by mailing each defendant a waiver of service. The defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an answer. If the defendants have not filed answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, the plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After the defendants have been served, the court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         4. With respect to a defendant who no longer works at the address provided by the plaintiff, the entity for whom that defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the clerk said defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall be retained only by the clerk and shall not be maintained in the public docket nor disclosed by the clerk.

         5. The defendants shall file an answer within 60 days of the date the waiver is sent by the clerk. A motion to dismiss is not an answer. The answer should include all defenses appropriate under the Federal Rules. The answer and subsequent pleadings shall be to the issues and claims stated in this opinion. In general, an answer sets forth the defendants' positions. The court does not rule on the merits of those positions unless and until a motion is filed by the defendants. Therefore, no response to the answer is necessary or will be considered.

         6. This district uses electronic filing, which means that, after defense counsel has filed an appearance, defense counsel will automatically receive electronic notice of any motion or other paper filed by the plaintiff with the clerk. The plaintiff does not need to mail to defense counsel copies of motions and other papers that the plaintiff has filed with the clerk. However, this does not apply to discovery requests and responses. Discovery requests and responses are not filed with the clerk. The plaintiff must mail his discovery requests and responses directly to defendants' counsel. Discovery requests or responses sent to the clerk will be returned unfiled, unless they are attached to and the subject of a motion to compel. Discovery does not begin until defense counsel has filed an appearance and the court has entered a scheduling order, which will explain the discovery process in more detail.

         7. Counsel for the defendants is hereby granted leave to depose the plaintiff at his place of confinement. Counsel for the ...


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