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Atherton v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 27, 2018

FRANK DEAN ATHERTON, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN BALDWIN, NICK LAMB, RUSSEL GOINS, DEEDEE BROOKHART, and HEALTHER CICIL Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Frank Dean Atherton, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff requests injunctive relief, including a preliminary injunction, (Doc. 7), declarative 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; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff originally filed this suit in the Central District on May 17, 2018. (Doc. 1). It was transferred to this District on May 29, 2018. (Doc. 8).

         Plaintiff alleges that his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights are being violated by prison staff at Lawrence Correctional Center. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the mailroom improperly rejected his correspondence to a Miss Virginia Evans on November 29, 2017 because a parolee lives with her. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff's letter to the Bruch Creek Business requesting a catalog was also rejected by the mailroom on November 29, 2017. Id.

         Plaintiff received a note from the mailroom on November 7, 2017 noting that they had intercepted an unauthorized item and stating that Plaintiff must return or destroy the items within 30 days. Id. Plaintiff was not given the opportunity to appeal. Id.

         Plaintiff received open correspondence from the U.S. Department of Justice on February 8, 2018. Id. The mailroom also opened correspondence from the Illinois Court of Claims that was clearly marked legal mail. Id.

         Plaintiff was also corresponding with the Human Rights Defense Center in Lakeworth, but his letter was rejected because Sabarish Neelakanta was not an attorney of the state of Illinois. Id. Plaintiff's letter to Charles J. Ogletree of Harvard Law School ...


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