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Norfleett v. Miller-Pickering

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 12, 2018



          Herndon United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Marc Norfleet, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for events that happened at Pinckneyville Correctional Center and Stateville Correctional Center. Plaintiff requests injunctive relief, costs & fees, declaratory relief, and damages. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Third Amended 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 Third Amended Complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Third Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff originally filed this suit in the Northern District of Illinois on November 3, 2017. (Doc. 1). The original complaint was stricken for failure to conform to federal notice pleading requirements. (Doc. 7). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on January 18, 2018. (Doc. 12). The Northern District then transferred the case here on March 12, 2018. (Doc. 14). Plaintiff submitted 2 proposed amended complaints in a short period of time, and the Court caused the most recent one to be filed as the Third Amended Complaint on July 10, 2018. (Doc. 26) (Doc. 27).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants caused him to lose the case Norfleet v. Shah, No. 14-cv-1408-JPG-PMF (“14-1408”) after Judge Gilbert issued an order requiring prison officials to show cause regarding Plaintiff's access to legal supplies in No. 15-cv-0160-JPG-SCW (“15-160”). (Doc. 27, p. 8).

         Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants IDOC, Prusacki-Newton, Spiller, Taylor, Baldwin, and Benton enforced a policy that arbitrarily deprived Plaintiff of adequate legal supplies after he became indigent. (Doc. 27, pp. 8-9). The lack of legal supplies caused Plaintiff to lose 14-1408 and the appeal of that case, Norfleet v. Shah, 15-2401 (7th Cir.). (Doc. 17, p. 9). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants took this retaliatory step against him after Judge Gilbert entered an order directing their subordinate employees to respond on April 13, 2016. Id. (15-160, Doc. 14). Plaintiff received a notice that his appeal in 15-2401 had been dismissed by the Seventh Circuit on November 18, 2015. (Doc. 27, p. 9). He immediately requested an envelope from Prusacki-Newton, Rolla, and Spiller. (Doc. 27, pp. 9, 11). Plaintiff's request was denied pursuant to a policy of only providing 2 envelopes per month to indigent inmates promulgated by IDOC, Baldwin, Taylor, Benton, Qualls, and Spiller. Id. Plaintiff then crafted his own envelope, but Hale refused to mail it out on November 21, 2015, further depriving Plaintiff of access to the courts. (Doc. 27, p. 12). Hale falsely claimed that the U.S. Postal Service does not permit re-used envelopes. Id. Hale later contradicted herself and told Plaintiff that it was IDOC, Baldwin, Taylor, Benton, Qualls, and by extensions, Spiller and the IDOC's policy to not permit inmates to re-use envelopes. Id.

         Plaintiff was transferred to Stateville on December 1, 2015, but he alleges that Prusacki-Newton and Spiller's refusal to give him an envelope cost him 12 out of 14 days to respond to the mandate, and effectively caused the loss of both the appeal and the case in the district court. (Doc. 27, pp. 9, 11). Plaintiff alleges that other inmates, like William Malone, were not treated in this manner. (Doc. 27, p. 9).Plaintiff was also unable to mail grievances to the ARB. Id. While at Stateville, Plaintiff alleges that Johnson and Tejeda denied him access to adequate legal research due to IDOC, Baldwin, Benton, and Qualls' intentional refusal to allow Stateville to have an adequate law library. (Doc. 27, p. 11).

         Plaintiff alleges that IDOC, Baldwin, Benton, Spiller, and Miller-Pickering denied Plaintiff his First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights in retaliation by taking his entire state stipend and applying it to Plaintiff's debt for legal copies and legal postage fees since 2010. (Doc. 27, p. 10). Plaintiff alleges that they only confiscate his stipend, and not any other inmates'. Id. This leaves Plaintiff without funds to shop in the commissary for stationary, and he needs stationary to litigate. Id. Plaintiff again points to Malone as an example of an inmate treated differently than him, and alleges that Malone also owes extensive legal copy, postage, and court fees. Id. Plaintiff alleges that this conduct also contributed the loss of 15-2401 and 14-1408. Id. Hale prevented Plaintiff from paying the partial filing fee in 15-2401. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that IDOC, Baldwin, Taylor, Benton, and Flatt deprived Plaintiff of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by making the institutional grievance process unavailable to Plaintiff. (Doc. 27, p. 13). Specifically, Flatt would ignore the facts of Plaintiff's grievances so that they would be denied later by the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”). (Doc. 27, p. 14).

         Plaintiff alleges that the policies of denying his grievances and depriving him of adequate legal supplies continued into 2017. (Doc. 27, p. 15).

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that IDOC, Prusacki-Newton, Spiller, Taylor, Baldwin, Benton, Qualls, Rolla, Hale, Miller-Pickering, Flatt, Tejeda, Johnson, and Butler-Winters inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on Plaintiff. (Doc. 27, p. 25). Plaintiff alleges that the Attorney General's office has never made his full medical records available to him, and that he will need those records to prove the specific dates he suffered from physical and emotional pain caused by Defendants' actions. Id. Plaintiff also alleges that as a direct consequence of losing Norfleet v. Shah, Shah was permitted to continue intentionally depriving Plaintiff of medical care for his disability. Id.

         Some of the facts at issue in this lawsuit involve public records of past lawsuits filed within this Court and the Seventh Circuit. Courts are permitted to take judicial notice of matters of public record. General Elec. Capital Corp., v. Lease Resolution Corp.128 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 1997); see also Ennenga v. Starns,677 F.3d 766 (7th Cir. 2012). The facts must be both indisputable and either known within the jurisdiction of the trial court or capable of ready determination from sources of unquestioned accuracy. Id. Court documents are public ...

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