United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
NEIL J. LOFQUIST, #M04121, Plaintiff,
CINDY GIMBER, FRANK LAWRENCE, LARISSA WANDRO, ANN LAHR, and SHERRY BENTON, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Neil Lofquist, an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections currently incarcerated in Menard Correctional
Center (“Menard”), brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his
constitutional rights. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the
defendants violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights
by interfering with his mail. (Doc. 1).
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
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.
careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits,
the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed
past the threshold stage.
Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following
allegations: Plaintiff began researching his family's
genealogy in 2014 with “few, if any, restrictions . . .
imposed by the Menard Correctional Center's inmate
mailroom.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). On July 17, 2017, Plaintiff
received a monetary settlement from Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., allowing him to compensate “archivists,
volunteers, and librarians for providing century old census
records, obituaries, and unknown images of unknown
relatives.” Id. On September 20, 2017, an
archivist, David D'Ondfrio of the United States Naval
Academy, requested correspondence regarding Battleship
Captain E.A. Lofquist. Id. Plaintiff instead
received a mail return slip from Menard's mailroom
supervisor stating: “Per administrative decision - info
on others not allowed.” Id. On October 20,
2017, Plaintiff received a mail return slip regarding
correspondence from Uppsala Riksarkivet, another archivist,
about certain relevant dates for “fourth, fifth, and
sixth great grandparents in Glottsta” for the same
reason. (Doc. 1, p. 6). The same thing happened on October
30, 2017, with correspondence from Heidi Butler, from Lansing
Public Library, about Plaintiff's mother, grandmother,
and a relative's local obituary. Id.
November 22, 2017, Plaintiff received another mail return
slip for correspondence from someone at Perry County
Genealogical Society regarding Theodore Lofquist of the 36th
Aero Squadron. Id. The return slip indicates that
maps were not permitted, and the items being returned were
forbidden by institutional regulations. Id. On
December 4, 2017, Plaintiff received correspondence from Adam
J. Barrone of the Allen County Public Library Foundation
notifying Plaintiff that he mailed Plaintiff information
about Plaintiff's grandfather on November 2, but the
envelope was refused and returned marked “items not
permitted.” Id. Plaintiff did not receive a
mail return slip or an explanation as to why the mail was not
January 17, 2018, correspondence regarding Plaintiff's
fourth great grandmother was returned. (Doc. 1, p. 7). The
slip noted: “Per administrative decision: records on
other people not allowed.” Id. That same day,
correspondence regarding Plaintiff's family history file
from someone at the Harrison County Genealogical society was
returned. Id. The slip noted: “no road
maps” and “info on others not allowed per
administrative decision.” Id. On February 9,
2018, the same thing happened with correspondence from Stark
County Library and St. Louis Public Library regarding various
deceased family members of Plaintiff. Id. On April
9, 2018, of the three pages about Plaintiff's fourth
great grandmother sent to Plaintiff by his aunt, Cynthia
Cooper, only one page remained stapled to Cynthia's
letter. Id. Plaintiff received no notice from the
mailroom about the missing pages. Id.
rubber-stamping of intentional misconduct began against
Plaintiff with Administrative Review Board Member Ann Lahr,
expanding prohibitive measures to cover the entire country of
Sweden on Oct. 31, 2017.” (Doc. 1, p. 11). Benton
denied Plaintiff's grievance, in which he questions why
his mail was not permitted. Id. Though Plaintiff
presented legal arguments to Wandro and Benton in grievances,
Wandro “found her nirvana by ignoring Plaintiff's
authenticity, then fabricated policy even more irrational,
” and Benton noted “duplicate filings aren't
necessary.” Id. Plaintiff believes an inquiry
into Mailroom Supervisor Gimber would be appropriate given
the correspondence that was “lost before falling under
the auspices of info-on-others” as “a convenient
avoidance of paperwork, ” among other things. (Doc. 1,
p. 12). Gimber “improvised” the
“info-on-others” policy, and it was ratified by
Assistant Warden Frank Lawrence. Id. Gimber and
Lawrence had “arbitrary interests in conjuring [the]
info-on-other policies” and “never cit[ed] actual
security concerns for their illicit tactics. (Doc. 1, p. 13).
a grievance officer, reviewed Plaintiff's grievances
regarding the return of his mail and cited to departmental
regulations and administrative decisions to deny the
grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 13); (Doc. 1-2, p. 5). Subsequently,
Benton, of the Administrative Review Board, determined that
the mail issue was appropriately addressed by the
administration at Menard after reviewing Plaintiff's
grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 13).
Plaintiff did not receive a mail return slip for a piece of
mail that was returned. (Doc. 1, p. 14). “One hundred
one correspondence requests from Plaintiff since October
first have not been received from reputable organizations who
have (mostly) corresponded with Plaintiff previously.”
(Doc. 1, p. 15). “Except for the seven mail return
slips received by Plaintiff, Gimber (under Lawrence's
supervision) withheld delivery of countless letters correctly
addressed to Plaintiff, disregarding minimal procedural
safeguards, subjecting Plaintiff to humiliatingly arbitrary
administrative invasion, denying inmate and sender
notification of the rejection, and depriving the
constitutional rights of the author of said correspondence
the reasonable opportunity to protest blatantly illicit
habits.” (Doc. 1, p. 16).
to a decision made by Lawrence, Gimber designated the class
of individuals affected by the “info-on-others”
policy to essentially include relatives of Plaintiff. (Doc.
1, p. 17). The information on others policy “was
created for [Plaintiff].” Id. Gimber has also
imposed “a blanket rejection of road maps to Plaintiff,
versus the remaining population of Menard.” (Doc. 1, p.
18). Plaintiff also notes that “it is common for
inmates who have sizeable balances to be the focus of envy by
Menard staff.” (Doc. 1, p. 20). Plaintiff received a
sizeable amount of money in his trust fund account just
before the information on others policy was enforced against
him. Id. Mailroom staff has access to inmate trust
account balances. Id.
requests declaratory, monetary, and injunctive relief. ...