United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE DISTRICT JUDGE.
Raymond Matthews, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Hill Correctional Center (“Hill”), brings this
pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). (Doc. 1).
According to the Complaint, Menard inmates were placed on a
gallery-wide commissary restriction after a single inmate
made too much noise in his cell. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-11). When
Plaintiff complained about the restriction, the defendants
allegedly took retaliatory disciplinary action against him
that led to his punishment with a disciplinary ticket and
placement in segregation. Id. Plaintiff now asserts
claims against the officials who were involved in this
conduct under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
(Doc. 1, p. 1). He seeks declaratory judgment and monetary
damages. (Doc. 1, p. 19).
matter is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Complaint under 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
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.
housed in Menard's North 2 Cell House (8 Gallery) on
March 8, 2016, Plaintiff overheard a correctional officer
tell several inmates in the general population that they were
not authorized to shop in the prison's commissary. (Doc.
1, p. 5). One of these inmates responded by banging on the
bars of his cell. Id. Officer Jorden Sparling heard
the commotion and announced that every inmate in 8 Gallery
would be placed on a commissary and shopping restriction.
“expressed his objection” to this decision and
asked Officer Sparling for permission to speak with his
supervisor. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Officer Sparling assured
Plaintiff that his supervisor approved of the restriction.
(Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). When Plaintiff requested a grievance form,
the officer told him that his supervisor would not allow him
to distribute them to inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff
explained that he had a right to purchase writing materials
and mail supplies necessary to access the courts, as well as
hygiene products necessary for self-care. Id. He
also told Officer Sparling that he was “abusing his
authority” by denying him access to the commissary and
forms. Id. Officer Sparling assured Plaintiff that
he definitely would not be going to the commissary after
threatening the officer with grievances and lawsuits.
Id. Plaintiff requested a crisis intervention
counselor instead. Id.
the same time, a mental health professional (Ms. Franklin)
was making rounds. (Doc. 1, p. 6). She put Plaintiff in
contact with a counselor named Ms. Meyer. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7).
Plaintiff met with Ms. Meyer and told her about the events
that transpired in 8 Gallery that day. (Doc. 1, p. 7). As
Plaintiff left the appointment to return to his cell, Officer
Sparling told him that he should “think twice”
before threatening to sue the officer and requesting crisis
intervention. Id. Officer Sparling then took
Plaintiff to segregation, where all of his property was
was placed in a dirty cell and denied hygiene items, cleaning
supplies and a floor rug. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Bright lights
illuminated his cell day and night. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He was
issued a single suicide mattress, blanket and smock.
Id. He was denied showers, recreation, books,
writing materials and mail supplies. Id.
Correctional officers, including Officer Sparling, regularly
appeared at Plaintiff's cell and taunted or threatened
him not to tell mental health unless he wanted to
“accidentally commit suicide.” Id.
Sparling issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket the same day
for intimidation and threats (DR 504 #206), insolence (DR 504
#304) and disobeying a direct order (DR 504 #403). (Doc. 1,
p. 7). He received the ticket before a hearing investigator
had an opportunity to investigate the matter. Id.
again asked to speak with the crisis intervention team on
March 12, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He met with Ms. Meyer the
same day and complained of anxiety and depression resulting
from the events that transpired on March 8, 2016. (Doc. 1, p.
8). Ms. Meyer placed Plaintiff on suicide watch. Id.
He was moved from his segregation cell (North 2 #242) to
another cell (North 2 #505). Id. Property that was
returned to him one day earlier was again confiscated,
including the clothes he was wearing. Id. In protest
of “all these actions, ” Plaintiff went on a
hunger strike on March 14, 2016. Id.
next day, Plaintiff was found guilty of disciplinary
violations at an adjustment committee hearing that he was not
allowed to attend. (Doc. 1, p. 8). He was punished with 3
months of C-grade, commissary restriction and segregation.
(Doc. 1-1, p. 6). The final disciplinary hearing report
indicated that Plaintiff “refused to attend the
hearing.” (Doc. 1, p. 8; Doc. 1-1, p. 6).
March 16, 2016, Plaintiff again spoke with Ms. Meyer. (Doc.
1, p. 9). She agreed to take him off of suicide watch and
return his personal property items to him (e.g.,
hygiene supplies, bedding, property and clothes).
Id. Despite these assurances, Plaintiff remained on
suicide watch under the same conditions described above until
April 6, 2016. Id. He blames this on a conspiracy
between the mental health professionals and prison staff.
March 17, 2016, Major Carter and Lieutenant Koehn spoke with
Plaintiff about the reason for his hunger strike. (Doc. 1, p.
9). After Plaintiff told them about the disciplinary ticket,
the officers stated that they believed Plaintiff
“didn't do what . . . Sparling accused him of
[doing].” Id. Plaintiff ...