United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Mickey Mason, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case was
severed from Mason v. Spiller, et al., No.
17-cv-00867-DRH-RJD (S.D. Ill. 2017) (“original
case”), pursuant to a Memorandum and Severance Order
(“Severance Order”) dated September 25, 2017.
(Doc. 1). The severed case focuses on a single claim (Count
5, original case) against Menard's Orange Crush Officers
for taking Plaintiff's personal property, including his
legal materials, during a cell shakedown on August 3, 2017.
(Doc. 1, pp. 10-15). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and the
return of his property. (Doc. 13, p. 20).
after this severed case was opened, Plaintiff filed a series
of motions seeking leave to amend the Complaint (Docs. 8, 9, 11)
in this case. His initial motions (Docs. 8 and 9) were denied
because Plaintiff failed to file a proposed amended complaint
along with the motions. (Doc. 10). However, this Court
accepted the First Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff on
February 22, 2018,  and it is now before the Court for
U.S.C. § 1915A. Section 1915A provides, in pertinent
(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
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.
severed case arises from a single cell shakedown that
occurred less than two weeks before Plaintiff filed the
original case on August 15, 2018. (Doc. 13, p. 2). According
to the allegations of the First Amended Complaint, C/O Meyers
and three unknown officers (John Doe I, John Doe 2, John Doe
3, and John Doe 4) entered Plaintiff's cell and removed
his personal property without his consent on August 3, 2017.
(Doc. 13, p. 2-3). They took trial transcripts, legal
documents, exhibits, and privileged correspondence, among
other things. (Doc. 13, pp. 5, II, 14). A detailed list of
the property is included in the First Amended Complaint (Doc.
13, pp. 11, 14, 20).
time, Plaintiff was preparing a successive post-conviction
petition to challenge his conviction and sentence. (Doc. 13,
p. 4). Without his legal materials, Plaintiff was unable to
properly present his claims. (Doc. 13, p. 5). He blames C/O
Meyers and John Does ##1-4 for interfering with his ability
to pursue post-conviction relief. (Doc. 13, pp. 4-5).
reported the incident to Sandie Walker, who refused to file
an incident report or report the incident to Sergeant
Harrison. (Doc. 13, pp. 5, 12). Walker told Plaintiff that
there was nothing she could do. (Doc. 13, p. 12). She also
stated that John Doe 1 had no time to address his personal
alleges that Walker's conduct amounted to retaliation for
an earlier incident. (Doc. 13, p. 15). Specifically, a couple
days before the cell shakedown, Plaintiff told
“Major/John Doe” of the North 1 Cell House that
Counselor Price routinely ignored his requests for a
transfer, trust fund statement, money vouchers, and
grievances. (Doc. 13, p. 16). He also complained that
Counselor Price and Walker failed to make rounds in the cell
house. Id. Walker told Plaintiff that she was
“pissed” he decided to complain directly to the
major. Id. She also told Plaintiff that she runs the
North Cell House, and Sergeant Harrison “will back her
up” on her decisions. Id. She threatened to
send Plaintiff to the North 2 Cell House “where the
homosexuals are” so that he could complain all he
wanted. (Doc. 13, pp. 16, 19). Sergeant Harrison was present
during the conversation. (Doc. 13, p. 17).
August 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance to
complain about the cell shakedown and confiscation of his
personal property. (Doc. 13, p. 12). That same day, he
prepared a staff misconduct grievance to complain about
Sandie Walker's response to his request for assistance.
Id. He submitted the grievances to Counselor Price
and to the grievance office. Id. It is unclear
whether he received a response to these grievances.
also told his family about the incident. (Doc. 13, p. 12).
They contacted Warden Jacqueline Lashbrook and another
unknown individual twice in August 2017. (Doc. 13, pp.
12-13). Warden Lashbrook told Plaintiff's family that the
situation would be addressed. (Doc. 13, p. 13).
August 7, 2017, Plaintiff was escorted to an interview with
Lieutenant Spiller. (Doc. 13, p. 13). Instead of inquiring
into the cell shakedown that occurred three days earlier,
Lieutenant Spiller focused the interview on an earlier
incident of alleged sexual assault by prison guards on April
1, 2016. Id. The lieutenant explained that he wanted
to know the “end result” of that incident because
Plaintiff's father had called to complain about
harassment by staff. Id. Plaintiff explained that
staff turned a blind eye to that incident and then targeted
his cell for a shakedown when Plaintiff exercised his right
to complain. Id. Lieutenant Spiller asked Plaintiff
if the tactical team confiscated documents pertaining to his
civil suit, and he said that they only took some of the
documents. Id. Plaintiff gave the rest of the
documents to his father for safekeeping. (Doc. 13, p. 14).
When Plaintiff provided Lieutenant Spiller with an itemized
list of legal materials that were confiscated, the lieutenant
wrote down only some of the items. Id. The
lieutenant then wrote “refused” on the inmate
signature line. (Doc. 13, p. 15). Plaintiff questioned the
lieutenant about this and was allowed to review and sign the
investigation report. Id. However, Lieutenant
Spiller refused to provide Plaintiff with a copy.
August 7, 2017, Plaintiff also prepared a grievance to
complain about Lieutenant Spiller's handling of the
investigation. (Doc. 13, p. 15). He characterized the
lieutenant's conduct during the interview as attempted
bribery. Id. He filed one copy of the grievance with
Counselor Price and another copy with the grievance office.
Id. He received no response to either grievance.
was moved to the North 2 Cell House on August 10, 2017. (Doc.
13, p. 16). On August 15, 2017, he was escorted from his new
cell to an office for questioning by C/O Gardner. (Doc. 13,
p. 17). Plaintiff was handcuffed to the floor during the
interview. Id. When Gardner entered the room, the
officer asked Plaintiff about his gang affiliation before
interviewing him about the cell shakedown. Id.
Plaintiff objected to the line of questioning and denied any
gang affiliation. Id. C/O Gardner was angered by
Plaintiff's response and insisted Plaintiff was lying
about his gang affiliation. Id. Plaintiff asked to
return to his cell, and the interview ended. Id.
August 16, 2017, William H. Spiller and Lieutenant Spiller
told Plaintiff that he was not going to “get away with
trying to pursue [his] issues and that it's not
over.” (Doc. 13, p. 18). Plaintiff filed an emergency
grievance the same day to report the threat to Warden
Lashbrook. (Doc. 13, p. 17). He received a response from Alex
Jones instead of the warden, indicating that his situation
presented no emergency. (Doc. 13, p. 18). He then submitted a
grievance to Counselor Hill and the Grievance Office, but he
received no response. Id.
September 28, 2017, Plaintiff was denied a meal when Sergeant
J. Snell removed him from the lunch line without just cause.
(Doc. 13, p. 18). He asked C/O John Doe (a gallery officer)
to provide him with a meal, but his request was denied.
Id. As a result, Plaintiff experienced pain,
suffering, and loss of sleep for two days. Id. The
following day, William H. Spiller informed staff ...