United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MERIT REVIEW ORDER
E. SHADID, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause is before the Court for merit review of the
Plaintiff's complaint. 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.
a pro se prisoner, claims Defendants Correctional Officer
Eric Bergee, Major Chappell, Lieutenant K. Cheek,
Investigator Fink, Lieutenant Grubb, Paralegal Lorne
Williams, and Warden Carolyn Gursky violated his Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights at Jacksonville Correctional
says on December 7, 2015, he was moved from general
population to a segregation cell. Two days later, he received
a “fabricated” disciplinary ticket accusing him
of engaging in gang activity. (Comp., p. 6). Defendants
Chappell, Fink, and Cheek signed off on the ticket.
December 15, 2015, Plaintiff appeared before Adjustment
Committee Members Grubb and Williams who found Plaintiff
guilty and recommended various disciplinary measures
including three months in segregation and a three month loss
of good time credits. In addition, Plaintiff says he was
transferred to segregation at a higher security prison on
January 6, 2016. Defendant Warden Gursky also approved the
says before he received the ticket, he lived in general
population and was able to use the telephone, walk to and
from meals, and enjoy outside recreation every day. In
addition, Plaintiff could take a shower every other day and
buy items in the commissary once a week. After he was placed
in segregation, Plaintiff was denied frequent phone calls,
outside recreation was limited to once a week, all meals were
served in his cell, and he was not allowed to purchase food
items. In addition, handcuffs were required when Plaintiff
was moved out of his cell.
appealed the findings of the disciplinary hearing to the
Administrative Review Board (ARB) in January of 2016. In May,
the ARB expunged Plaintiff's disciplinary ticket finding
the ticket did not comply with department rules since it did
not include the date of the alleged incident.
27, 2016, Plaintiff was released from “segregation and
placed in segregation release.” (Comp., p. 14).
first maintains the Defendants violated his Fourteenth
Amendment due process rights since he was not allowed to
present a “factual defense.” (Comp., p. 4). The
Seventh Circuit has held there is “no denial of due
process if the error the inmate complains of is corrected in
the administrative appeal process” because that process
“is part of the due process afforded to
prisoners.” Morissette v. Peters, 45 F.3d
1119, 1122 (7th Cir. 1995). However, the Seventh Circuit has
also “suggested that this rule may only apply when the
administrative appeal corrects the ‘procedural error
before the punishment has begun.'”
Trainauskas v. Fralicker, 2018 WL 1183867, at *4
(S.D.Ill. March 7, 2018) quoting Morissette v.
Peters, 45 F.3d at 1122, n. 4. Therefore, the Court will
not dismiss Plaintiff's due process claim at merit review
on the grounds that his ticket was expunged since he had
already served his time in segregation.
Court also notes the “Due Process Clause does not
protect a prisoner from a false conduct report.”
Shelton v. Melvin, 2017 WL 951241, at *4 (N.D.Ill
March 10, 2017); see also Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539, 558 (1974).
a prisoner challenging the process he was afforded in a
prison disciplinary proceeding must meet two requirements:
(1) he has a liberty or property interest that the state has
interfered with; and (2) the procedures he was afforded were
constitutionally deficient. Rowe v. DeBruyn, 17 F.3d
1047, 1053 (7th Cir.1994). In this case, Plaintiff has not
alleged the Defendants interfered with a liberty or property
interest. For instance, a prisoner has no protected liberty
interest in remaining in the general population of a prison,
except in rare cases where “segregation conditions ...
constitute an ‘atypical and significant hardship on the
inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison
life.'” Thomas v Ramos, 130 F.3d 754, 760
(7th Cir. 1997) quoting Sandin v Conner, 515 U.S.
472, 484 (1995); see also See Urias-Urias v Youell,
2006 WL 1120434 at 2 (C.D.Ill. April 26, 2006)(“The
Eighth Amendment to the constitution prohibits ‘cruel
and unusual punishment, ' but segregation alone is
generally not considered cruel and unusual
punishment.”). The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has
further noted “an inmate's liberty interest in
avoiding segregation [is] very limited or even nonexistent,
” and terms of segregated confinement of six months or
less generally do not violate due process. Marion v
Columbia Corr. Inst., 559 F.3d 693, 697 (7th Cir.
2009)(collecting cases); see also Lekas v Briley,
405 F.3d 602, 612 (7th Cir. 2005)(90 days in disciplinary
segregation did not violate due process); Hoskins v
Lenear, 395 F.3d 372, 374-75 (7th Cir. 2005)(60 days in
disciplinary segregation did not violate due process).
was in segregation less than six months and the conditions
described are typical of segregation. Therefore, he has not
met the first prong of a due process claim. Even if Plaintiff
had identified a liberty interest, the Adjustment Committee
Final Report provided by Plaintiff demonstrates he was
afforded the required due process protections including a
chance to present a defense and call witnesses. (Comp, p.
19); see Wolff, 418 U.S. at 558.
next alleges the restrictions imposed during his time in
segregation violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment. However, Plaintiff does
not allege he was denied the “minimal civilized measure
of life's necessities, ' ” such as adequate
food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or safety.
Higgason v. Farley, 83 F.3d 807, 809 (7th Cir.1996).
Therefore, Plaintiff has failed to articulate an Eighth
Amendment violation. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S.
337, 346-47, 101 S.Ct. 2392, 69 L.Ed.2d 59 (1981) (for
prisoner to state an Eighth Amendment claim based on
conditions of confinement, the conditions must result in
unquestioned and serious deprivations of basic human needs or
deprive inmates of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities); Urias-Urias v Youell, 2006
WL 1120434 at 2 (C.D.Ill. April 26, 2006)(“The Eighth
Amendment to the constitution prohibits ‘cruel and
unusual punishment, ' but segregation alone is generally
not considered cruel and unusual punishment.”).
although not clearly stated, it is possible Plaintiff was
also attempting to allege a retaliation claim. For instance,
Plaintiff says he was interviewed on multiple occasions about
gang activity, but he refused to answer. Plaintiff was then
threatened, and ultimately given the false ...