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Orozco v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 17, 2019

ROGELIO OROZCO, #R26820, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMBERLY S. BUTLER, MINN T. SCOTT, REBECCA A. COWAN, ERIN S. CARTER, LESLIE MCCARTY, SALVIDOR A. GODINEZ, SCOTT T. HOLTE, ABERARDO A SALINAS, RANDY S. PFISTER, TERRI ANDERSON, DONALD STOLWORTHY, JASON HART, JOHN DOE #1, and JOHN DOE #2, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Rogelio Orozco, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center (“Western”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights while at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) and Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”). Plaintiff's claims arise from being convicted of a disciplinary charge and confined in disciplinary segregation. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief expunging the underlying disciplinary reports.

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10) 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).

         This case was previously dismissed on initial review (Docs. 9 and 12) but was remanded by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for rescreening. (Doc. 32-1). The Seventh Circuit found that Plaintiff should have been allowed to file an amended complaint on the potential claims Plaintiff attempted to assert in the first Complaint and that the case should not have been dismissed in its entirety. Id., p. 5. Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10) prior to dismissal, which adds several parties and appears to restate all of his claims. After remand, the Court views the First Amended Complaint as the operative complaint and conducts its Section 1915A analysis on that document. Should Plaintiff wish to reassert any of the claims dismissed in the original Complaint which were not included in the First Amended Complaint, he may file a Second Amended Complaint.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges the following: On April 22, 2014, Plaintiff was issued a disciplinary ticket by Defendant Erin Carter, an Internal Affairs officer at Menard, for participation in Security Threat Group (“STG”) or Unauthorized Organizational Activity as a member of the Latin King Nation gang. (Doc. 10, pp. 4, 7-8). Defendants Scott and Hart sat as the Adjustment Committee on the charge on April 24, 2014, and found Plaintiff guilty, sentencing him to three months of disciplinary segregation, as well as loss of grade and some privileges. Id., p. 8. Plaintiff alleges that Scott and Hart did not adequately investigate the allegations underlying the disciplinary ticket and were not impartial, as they simply credited disciplinary ticket's account. Id., pp. 9-14.

         When the Adjustment Committee's report from the April 24 hearing was forwarded to Defendant Butler (warden of Menard at the time), she remanded it for additional information to substantiate the charge and ordered the Adjustment Committee to impose much harsher sanctions of one year in disciplinary segregation and longer loss of grade and privileges. Id., pp. 14-15. Scott and Defendant Cowan subsequently held another hearing on May 9, 2014, at which they found Plaintiff guilty and imposed harsher sanctions in line with what Butler had specified, including one year in disciplinary segregation. Id., p. 16. Butler subsequently approved the Adjustment Committee's findings. Id., p. 17.

         Plaintiff was subsequently given a punitive disciplinary transfer to Pontiac. On June 8, 2014, he filed a grievance regarding his disciplinary hearings. Id., p. 18. At some point, two personal property room officers or supervisors-one at Menard (John Doe #1) and one at Pontiac (John Doe #2)-confiscated or destroyed several boxes of Plaintiff's excess legal materials, including materials from his criminal case. Id., p. 18. Plaintiff believes that this was done at the behest of Menard's Intelligence Unit in retaliation for Plaintiff's refusal to become a confidential informant. Id., pp. 18-19.

         Defendants McCarty and Godinez responded to Plaintiff's June 8 grievance and directed that the matter be remanded back to Carter for additional information on how Plaintiff was identified as an active STG participant, and that the rehearing be held at Pontiac. Id., p. 19. Carter subsequently re-wrote the disciplinary report, and Plaintiff requested a witness (Scott) be called at the rehearing. Id., pp. 22-23. On November 20, 2014, Defendants Holte and Salinas held the rehearing, refusing to call Scott as a witness and incorrectly noting in the subsequent report that no witnesses had been requested. Id., p. 24. Holte and Salinas imposed the same punishments as had been imposed at the May 9 hearing, which was approved by Pontiac's warden, Defendant Pfister. Id., pp. 25-26.

         Defendants Anderson and Stolworthy subsequently reviewed and responded to Plaintiff's June 8 grievance in light of the rehearing and reduced Plaintiff's sanctions down to the level originally imposed at the April 24 hearing. Id., pp. 26-27.

         While specifically disclaiming any conditions-of-confinement challenge, Plaintiff states that while in punitive segregation he was subject to atypical hardships, including an unsanitary cell and being housed with seriously mentally ill inmates who would prevent him from sleeping. Id., p. 31.

         Discussion

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

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Carter, Scott, Hart, Butler, and Cowan, for deprivation of a liberty interest without due process in connection with the April 24 ...

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