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Harriss v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 25, 2018

LARRY G. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
J. BALDWIN, ATCHINS, JEFF DENNISON, CAMPBELL, WALKER, GRISHAM, UNKNOWN PARTIES Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Larry G. Harris, an inmate in Shawnee Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and damages. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review 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).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         On December 7, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred from Danville Correctional Center to Big Muddy Correctional Center for disciplinary reasons. (Doc. 1, p. 3). The disciplinary ticket that he was transferred on was ultimately expunged on December 22, 2016. Id. However, after the expungement, Plaintiff was not returned to Danville. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Instead, he was transferred to Shawnee on March 8, 2017. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Shawnee is run as a “punishment prison” to deter First Amendment activity, and that as a result of his transfer, Plaintiff has been subjected to harsher conditions of confinement. Id. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he is being retaliated against for filing 2 lawsuits: Harris v. Calloway, 17-cv-2075-MMM, and Harris v. Dempsey, 17-cv-2010-SLD. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that, when compared to Danville, Shawnee provides prisoners with less out of cell time, less recreation time, fewer opportunities to shop at the commissary, and a dollar amount limit at each shop. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). Shawnee also does not use the e-file system, causing Plaintiff to spend money to make copies of his lawsuits and pay for the postage to mail them. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         The conditions at Shawnee are also problematic. The paint is peeling in Plaintiff's cell. Id. His window does not open, and thus there is no ventilation. Id. The ventilation system is not clean, and the vent in Plaintiff's cell has dust and dirt. Id. Plaintiff breathes the dust and dirt. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Prisoners must shower in cold water because the boiler system is inadequate. Id. The mattresses are old, missing padding, and have urine and sweat stains on them. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that inmates are scheduled for 50 minutes of recreation each day, but that they only receive 25 to 30 minutes, in order to punish the medium/minimum rated prisoners housed at Shawnee. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         Plaintiff also alleges that the Shawnee kitchen also violates the Constitution. Id. Shawnee lacks a steam line to keep the food hot on the serving line, and there are no heaters to store the food once it is prepared. Id. The food is left sitting at room temperature for hours in the kitchen before being moved to the serving line. Id. There is also no hot water in the tray washing room, meaning that the trays, cups, and sporks are washed in cold water. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The trays frequently have a greasy film of water on top when they are served to the prisoner population. Id. The inmate workers are not supplied with dietary whites. Id. They do not wear beard nets or hair nets. Id. Food is stored on dirty food carts, which are also used to run trash. Id.

         Plaintiff has Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Disease, which he alleges is exacerbated by soy consumption. Id. Despite this, the Shawnee Dietary department is allowed to deny Plaintiff's no soy diet. Id. Warden Dennison approves and sanctions this conduct. Id.

         Plaintiff is not allowed to clean his living quarters weekly. Id. He is scheduled to clean his cell twice a month, but the assigned correctional officer will not leave the control booth to supervise his wing assignment, thus denying cleaning on the scheduled day. (Doc. 1, p. 9). The Majors ...


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