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Teen v. Doe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 23, 2018

ANTRELL TEEN, # 461504, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE #2 Supervisor, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, who is a pretrial detainee at the St. Clair County Jail (“the Jail”), originally brought this civil rights action on March 13, 2018. After screening the Complaint, the Court severed a number of Plaintiff's claims from the original case (Teen v. Smith, et al., No. 18-568-JPG-RJD) into separate actions. (Doc. 1). The instant case contains Count 3, described as follows:

Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment due process and conditions claims against Supervisor John Doe #2, for maintaining Plaintiff's placement in a locked-down cellblock (H-Block) where he was denied access to the law library, and denied hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and envelopes, when Plaintiff had committed no infraction.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. The Court must dismiss any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court concludes this action is subject to dismissal pursuant to § 1915A. However, Plaintiff shall be allowed an opportunity to submit an amended complaint in order to restate his claim.

         The Complaint

         The portion of the Complaint which relates to Count 3 is as follows. At some point in 2016, Plaintiff was moved from J-Block of the Jail to H-Block. (Doc. 2, p. 5). He claims that the H-Block wing was unsafe, because the individual cell doors did not lock, and fights broke out almost daily among the inmates.

         In November 2016, H-Block was placed on a 30-day lockdown because of a late-night fight. Plaintiff was not involved in the fight, but he was punished with the lockdown along with all the other inmates on the block. (Doc. 2, p. 6). Plaintiff did not receive a hearing before these conditions were imposed. During the lockdown, he was denied access to the law library, was not allowed to obtain hygiene items, and was denied envelopes and cleaning supplies. He submitted daily complaints over these deprivations, but Supervisor John Doe #2 disregarded Plaintiff's complaints for weeks. Finally, in December 2016, Plaintiff received relief and was moved to a different cellblock (AB-Block), before the lockdown ended. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory, punitive, and special damages for the violations of his rights. (Doc. 2, p. 11).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         For clarity, the Court shall continue to refer to this claim as it was numbered in the original action.

Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment due process and conditions claims against Supervisor John Doe #2, for maintaining Plaintiff's placement in a locked-down cellblock (H-Block) where he was denied access to the law library, and denied hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and envelopes, when Plaintiff had committed no infraction;

         Claims raised by pretrial detainees of unconstitutional conditions of confinement arise under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Smith v. Dart, 803 F.3d 304 (7th Cir. 2015); Budd v. Motley, 711 F.3d 840, 842 (7th Cir. 2013); Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 664 (7th Cir. 2012); Forest v. Prine, 620 F.3d 739, 744-45 (7th Cir. 2010); Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540 F.3d 633, 637 ...


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