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Williams v. Baldwin

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

June 25, 2019

JARAD W. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN R. BALDWIN, et al., Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW AND CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

          HAROLD A. BAKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, and currently being held at the Joliet Treatment Center, was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The plaintiff filed his original complaint [1] on February 14, 2019, and the Court gave him leave to file an amended complaint [6] on April 16, 2019, after determining, during a merit review, that his Original Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

         The case is now before the court for a merit review of the plaintiff's claims contained within his proposed amended complaint. The Court is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to “screen” the plaintiff's amended complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(citation omitted).

         The plaintiff is currently confined at the Joliet Treatment Center, but his allegations concern events that occurred while he was housed at the Pontiac Correctional Center. The plaintiff alleges in his proposed amended complaint that he was the subject of excessive force in violation of his Constitutional rights. In his Original Complaint, the plaintiff failed to identify a proper defendant who allegedly violated his Constitutional rights. In his proposed amended complaint, the plaintiff lists a number of individuals as defendants in the caption of his proposed amended complaint, but he only identifies one person in the body of his proposed amended complaint who (allegedly) took any actions that violated his rights: Andy Smith. According to his allegations, Defendant Smith pushed him while he was restrained which caused injury to the plaintiff.

         Based upon these allegations, the Court will allow this case to proceed on an excessive force claim against Defendant Smith. The plaintiff's proposed amended complaint contains no factual allegations against any of the other listed defendants, and therefore, they are all dismissed.

         The Court notes that there are potential problems with this case. First, the plaintiff alleges in one part of his complaint that Defendant Smith's assault occurred on February 28, 2016. In another part of his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the assault occurred on January 4, 2017. Under either allegation, this case be barred by the applicable statute of limitations period, and Defendants should consider filing a motion to dismiss or a summary judgment motion on that issue depending upon when and if the ARB ever issued a final determination on any relevant grievance submitted by the plaintiff.

         Second, the plaintiff alleges that his grievance date was February 28, 2018. Although he does not allege when he received a final determination on his grievance, it may be that the plaintiff failed to exhaust properly his administrative remedies based upon the timing of the filing of this complaint vis-à-vis the timing of the filing and resolution of any relevant grievance. This issue too may form the basis for a motion to dismiss or for a sooner-rather-than-later motion for summary judgment.

         That being said, the Court will leave that determination to Defendant Smith because, for now, the plaintiff's proposed amended complaint states a claim against Smith upon which relief can be granted for using excessive or unconstitutional force against him.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

         1. Pursuant to its merit review of the Amended Complaint [7] under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds that the plaintiff states an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendant Andy Smith. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case except at the Court's discretion and on a motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the defendant before filing any motions, in order to give the defendant notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before defendant's counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. The plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

         3. The Court will attempt service on the defendant by mailing the defendant a waiver of service. The defendant has 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an answer. If the defendant has not filed an answer or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this Order, the plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After the defendant has been served, the Court will enter an Order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         4. With respect to a defendant who no longer works at the address provided by the plaintiff, the entity for whom that defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the clerk said defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall ...


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