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Wiggins v. Bergin

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

May 30, 2018

MALCOLM WIGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
RITA BERGIN, et al. Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW ORDER #2

          HAROLD A. BAKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is before the court for a merit review of the plaintiff's amended 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. § 1915A.

         In reviewing the amended 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 in his amended complaint that Defendant Bergin has refused to issue him call passes to the law library, despite the fact that he is no longer medically restricted from going to the law library. Liberally construed, plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bergin has done so without a legitimate penological purpose, and in retaliation for lawsuits he filed that are currently pending. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bergin's actions have prevented him from meeting court deadlines in these cases.

         Plaintiff also alleges, in an unrelated claim, that medical staff at the prison has denied him treatment for an abscessed tooth.

         Plaintiff states First Amendment claims for denial of access to the courts and retaliation against Defendant Bergin. See Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 968 (7th Cir. 2006); Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 553 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff, however, cannot bring unrelated claims against different defendants in the same lawsuit. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits.”); Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017) (“[D]istrict courts should not allow inmates to flout the rules for joining claims and defendants…or to circumvent the Prison Litigation Reform Act's fee requirements by combining multiple lawsuits into a single complaint.”). The medical claim plaintiff alleges in his amended complaint does not involve Defendant Bergin. Therefore, the Court will dismiss, without prejudice, the medical claims against Defendants Olada and Osmundson.

         Finally, plaintiff filed a motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction (#15) seeking a court order directing officials at Illinois River Correctional Center to provide him access to the law library. Access to a law library is not the only means by which prison officials can provide meaningful access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 830 (1977) (“[W]hile adequate law libraries are one constitutionally acceptable method to assure meaningful access to the courts, [this] does not foreclose alternative means to achieve that goal.”). Plaintiff indicates in his memorandum of law that he has been able to consult a jailhouse lawyer for help in preparing his legal documents. At this stage, prison officials appear to have provided at least some means to plaintiff to satisfy their constitutional requirements. Therefore, the Court cannot conclude that plaintiff has shown a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         It is therefore ordered:

1) Plaintiff's motion to amend complaint (#18) is granted. Clerk is directed to docket the amended complaint attached to plaintiff's motion.
2) Pursuant to its merit review of the amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court finds that the plaintiff states First Amendment claims for denial of access to the courts and retaliation against Defendant Bergin. Any remaining defendants are dismissed. 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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 ...

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