United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Anthony Spoden filed this civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, in order to address numerous
violations of her constitutional rights at Shawnee
Correctional Center (“Shawnee”). (Doc. 1). This
Court screened the Complaint and determined that several of
Plaintiff's claims were improperly joined in this action.
(Doc. 8). Therefore, the Court entered an Order severing the
claims into four additional cases. See Spoden v.
Phelps, No. 18-cv-01401-SMY (S.D. Ill.); Spoden v.
Lynn, No. 18-cv-01402-NJR (S.D. Ill.); Spoden v.
Smith, No. 18-cv-01403-SMY (S.D. Ill.); Spoden v.
Kasey, No. 18-cv-01404-MJR (S.D. Ill.).
only claims that remain in this action are Count 2 against
Warden Dennison for mishandling Plaintiff's grievances
and Count 3 against Warden Dennison for failing to adopt
policies and practices aimed at ensuring the safety and care
of transgender inmates at Shawnee. (Doc. 8, p. 18). These
claims are now before the Court for preliminary review
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
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.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Warden Dennison mishandled
several grievances that she filed to complain about
“all issues mentioned in this complaint.” (Doc.
1, p. 38). The Complaint addresses a broad range of issues.
(Doc. 1). The Court identified nineteen separate claims
against various groups of defendants. (Doc. 8, pp. 11-12).
With two exceptions, Plaintiff offers no insight into the
grievances that Warden Dennison allegedly mishandled or the
complaints he ignored. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-39). The two exceptions
are described below.
the Court located a set of grievances and appeals that
Plaintiff filed to complain about the mistreatment of
transgender inmates at Shawnee. (Doc. 1, pp. 42-51). Several
grievances are illegible. Id. However, Warden
Dennison responded to one that is legible. (Doc. 1, p. 46).
Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding “staff
conduct” on October 31, 2017. Id. In the
grievance, Plaintiff complained about Counselor Lynn's
practice of allowing inmate peer educators to spread negative
or false information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender (“LGBT”) inmate population during
orientation. Id. Plaintiff complained that the peer
educators announced the names of past inmates who tested
positive for HIV and suggested that all LGBT inmates at the
prison have HIV. (Doc. 1, pp. 18-19). The grievance was
denied because “[o]ffenders have been certified as peer
educators[, and] [t]he material presented in Orientation is
provided by Office of Health Services.” (Doc. 1, p.
46). Warden Dennison concurred with the decision on December
15, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 46, 51).
Plaintiff describes a meeting with Warden Dennison to discuss
prison policies about makeup and her own mistreatment on
October 6, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 8). On that date, she met with
Warden Dennison and Mental Health Supervisor Katherine
Hammersley to discuss a disciplinary ticket she received
after challenging an officer's orders to wipe makeup from
her face. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff pointed out that her
punishment with a week of segregation and a month of lost
privileges was “extreme” for this expression of
her gender identity because the inmate manual did not forbid
the practice. Id. Plaintiff asked the warden to
restore her A-grade status and commissary privileges.
Id. At the time, she had already served a week in
segregation. Id. Warden Dennison granted her
request. Id. Although she alludes to other instances
of alleged mistreatment arising from her transgender status,
Plaintiff does not name Warden Dennison in connection with
Court previously characterized the two claims against Warden
Dennison in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules