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Torres v. Lashbrook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 11, 2019

NORBERTO TORRES, #R74153, Plaintiff,
v.
JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, KENT E. BROOKMAN, and JASON N. HART, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Norberto Torres, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights while at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) arising from being confined in disciplinary segregation pursuant to an Inmate Disciplinary Report (“IDR”) which was subsequently expunged. He seeks monetary damages.

         Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriquez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

          Plaintiff alleges the following: On March 9, 2017, authorities at Pontiac Correctional Center allegedly found a handwritten “Latin Folk” questionnaire containing Plaintiff's name and information and matching his handwriting. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff, who was then housed at Menard, was issued an IDR for participating in a Security Threat Group (“STG”) organizational activity. Id., pp. 6, 11-12. This IDR was given the ticket number 201700365/1-MEN (the “365 Ticket”). Id., p. 13.

         On March 15, 2017, Plaintiff was taken before Defendants Brookman and Hart, who sat as the Adjustment Committee conducting a disciplinary hearing on the 365 Ticket. Id., pp. 6, 13. Brookman and Hart expunged the 365 Ticket, a decision Defendant Lashbrook (as warden of Menard) later approved. Id.

         Despite the 365 Ticket being expunged, Plaintiff was nevertheless taken to segregation. Id., p. 6. Two days later, Plaintiff was served a new IDR (2017-00409/1-MEN, the “409 Ticket”) alleging the exact same offense. Id., pp. 6, 14. On March 22, 2017, Brookman and Hart again sat as the Adjustment Committee for a disciplinary hearing. This time they found Plaintiff guilty and sentenced him to 3 months in segregation, along with loss of privileges. Id., pp. 6, 14. Plaintiff was never given a copy of the questionnaire document which formed the basis of the IDRs, and he was threatened with an additional IDR if he didn't “shut up.” Id., p. 6. Lashbrook again signed off on this decision. Id., p. 15.

         While Plaintiff was in segregation, he spoke with Lashbrook while she was doing rounds and informed her that he had been convicted on the same charge that had previously been expunged, which she acknowledged. Id., p. 7. Plaintiff also showed her that the toilet in his cell was malfunctioning, that the malfunction had caused “smelly mold” to grow on the side of the toilet, and that Plaintiff and his cellmate were not given any cleaning supplies. Id. Despite Lashbrook's assurance that “all this would be taken care of, ” Plaintiff remained in that cell for another two and a half months. Id.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the 409 Ticket, which led to its expungement in June 2017, because the hearing was not conducted in accordance with Department Rule 504. Id., pp. 25-26.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the claims in this case into the following two Counts:

         Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim against Brookman and Hart for convicting Plaintiff on the same disciplinary charge which they had previously expunged and for failing to provide him with adequate opportunity to prepare by not producing the alleged document which was the basis of the charges.

         Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Lashbrook for cruel and unusual conditions of confinement.

         The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. Any claim that is mentioned in theComplaint but not addressed in this Order is considered dismissed without ...


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