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Mays v. Singler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 13, 2018

TIBERIUS MAYS, #N92625, Plaintiff,
v.
AARON SINGLER, and PAUL RUPERT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”). He originally brought this civil rights action on February 6, 2018, when it was filed as Mays v. Santos, et al., No. 18-181-MJR-SCW. After screening the Complaint, the Court severed a number of Plaintiff's claims from the original case into separate actions. (Doc. 1). The instant case contains Counts 4 and 5, which arose at Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”) and were described as follows:

Count 4: Due Process claim against Singler for issuing false disciplinary tickets against Plaintiff, and against Rupert for finding Plaintiff guilty on the July 2016 ticket at Centralia.
Count 5: First Amendment retaliation claim against Singler, for issuing false disciplinary tickets against Plaintiff, and interfering with Plaintiff's law library access, after Plaintiff complained and filed grievances against Singler.

         Plaintiff's claims are now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[1]

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief, must be dismissed. 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). Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. 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).

         The Complaint

         The portions of the Complaint which relate to Counts 4 and 5 are summarized below.

         Plaintiff alleges that in July 2016, [2] Singler (a temporary law librarian) issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for unauthorized movement, after Plaintiff complained about Singler forcing him to pay for copies of case law before Plaintiff could read the material. (Doc. 2, p. 10). Plaintiff asserts that Singler's ticket was false and issued in retaliation for Plaintiff's complaint, and violated his right to due process. Rupert (who conducted the disciplinary hearing) ignored Plaintiff's written statement explaining his “not guilty” response to the charge, and incorrectly stated that Plaintiff had pled guilty. (Doc. 2, pp. 11, 19, 22; Doc. 2-1, pp. 12-16; Doc. 2-2, pp. 8-11). Plaintiff's punishment in connection with this disciplinary ticket was a “verbal reprimand.” (Doc. 2-2, p. 8). Plaintiff's grievance over the disciplinary action led Centralia's warden to remand the matter. (Doc. 2, p. 11).

         Plaintiff later filed another grievance against Singler for refusing him library time when he had a court deadline. On August 17, 2016, Singler issued Plaintiff an allegedly false disciplinary ticket for insolence, which Plaintiff claims was an act of retaliation for his complaints. (Doc. 2, p. 11; Doc. 2-1, pp. 17, 20-21; Doc. 2-2, pp. 12-13). Plaintiff challenged that ticket, and also complained that he should not have to buy typewriter ribbons for the law library typewriters. (Doc. 2, p. 11). Singler's alleged retaliation continued and included changing Plaintiff's law library times and losing his court papers. (Doc. 2, pp. 11-12).

         Coun ...


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