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Torres v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 25, 2018




         Plaintiff Norberto Torres, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks declarative and injunctive 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

         There was an altercation at Menard in the West yard on December 7, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Shots were fired, and Plaintiff immediately got down. Id. An officer came and escorted Plaintiff to segregation, allegedly for lying in an improper position. Id. When Plaintiff arrived at the segregation building, he was interviewed by Bebout. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff told her that he did not know anything about the incident and was not involved. Id. Bebout told Plaintiff that he would be written up as participating in the altercation and labeled a member of the “Latin Folk” based on confidential informant testimony, unless he cared to tell her otherwise. Id. Plaintiff asked Bebout to review the camera footage, but she declined. Id. Plaintiff threatened to file grievances, but Bebout said that any grievance naming her would be destroyed. Id. Plaintiff was taken back to his cell in segregation. Id. A guard came and told Plaintiff that he was being placed on investigative status per Spiller and Bebout. (Doc. 1, p. 7). The guard also told Plaintiff that Bebout was going to make sure he got a disciplinary report because she does not like Hispanic males. Id.

         On December 9, 2015, Plaintiff received an investigative status report. Id. Less than a week later, he received a disciplinary report. Id. The disciplinary report was authored by Spiller and contained everything Bebout said she would include. Id.

         On December 22, 2015, Plaintiff appeared before the adjustment committee, composed of Brookman and Jackson. Id. He pleaded not guilty and denied being a gang member. Id. Plaintiff was found guilty, solely on the basis of the disciplinary report. Id. Plaintiff received the final summary report on January 11, 2016, and received one year C-grade, one year segregation, one year commissary restriction, and six months contact visit restriction. Id. Butler approved the report on December 31, 2015. Id.

         When Plaintiff served his time in segregation, both on investigative status and as a result of the disciplinary sanctions, he was placed in a cell designed for one man but made to house two. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff's investigative status cell also had rusty bunks, a soiled mattress, mold, and peeling paint. Id. It also lacked ventilation and was infested with bugs. Id. Plaintiff was also denied cleaning supplies. Id. He alleges identical conditions in the cell he was moved to after the guilty finding. Id. Plaintiff further describes the conditions on pages 10 and 11 of the Complaint.

         Plaintiff filed grievances regarding the disciplinary report, which Butler denied in April 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) remanded the disciplinary proceedings back to Menard on November 14, 2016, in order to comply with IDOC directives. (Doc. 1, ...

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