United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
Eugene bowman, Plaintiff, Gregory Kochel, et al. Defendants.
MERIT REVIEW AND CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER
A. BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
proceeding pro se, and currently incarcerated at
Waupun Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin, was
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The case
is now before the court for a merit review of plaintiff's
claims. 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.
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).
alleges that he was found guilty of being a member in a
security threat group (street gang) in 2015, but that he
later successfully appealed the decision. Thereafter,
Plaintiff alleges that prison officials continued to
investigate him, issued incident reports, and found him
guilty of a similar offense in 2016 in retaliation for his
successful use of the grievance process in the first case.
Plaintiff alleges that prison officials failed to follow
state rules and regulations, refused to call witnesses at his
hearings, adopted the investigation reports word-for-word,
and that the wardens and grievance officials either signed
off on the guilty findings or refused to grant the relief he
sought in his grievances.
alleges that he attempted to file a lawsuit related to these
matters in May 2017 by forwarding the complaint to the
Pontiac law library along with a request to file the document
electronically with the clerk of court. Plaintiff alleges
that he was transferred to Menard Correctional Center four
days later and never learned if his lawsuit had been filed
despite attempts to write officials at Pontiac.
states a First Amendment retaliation claim based upon his
allegations that Defendants Pierce II, Davis, Salinas,
Buford, Brown, and Farr continued to investigate him, issued
disciplinary reports, and found him guilty in 2016.
Plaintiff's complaint provides some indication that
Plaintiff lost good-time credit as a result of the 2016
proceedings, and, if so, the favorable termination rule in
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), may apply. In
addition, Plaintiff's claims may be time-barred depending
on when he completed the exhaustion process. Turley v.
Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2014)
(“Section 1983 suits in Illinois have a two-year
statute of limitations, which is tolled while the prisoner
exhausts the administrative grievance process.”).
Resolution of both issues, however, should await a more
allegations related to events that occurred in 2015 are
time-barred. Plaintiff completed the grievance process for
these incidents on May 10, 2016, see (Doc. 1 at 9,
¶ 32), but did not file this lawsuit until more than two
years later. Assuming Plaintiff was entitled to the minimum
protections due process requires, Plaintiff also does not
state a claim based upon the alleged refusal to call his
witnesses at the disciplinary hearings. As alleged by
Plaintiff, the witnesses' expected testimony would have
been duplicative of Plaintiff's own statements. In that
circumstance, prison officials were not required to call
Plaintiff's witnesses. Piggie v. Cotton, 344
F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003). Further, due process requires
only “some evidence” to support a guilty finding
at a disciplinary hearing, which was outlined in the reports
Plaintiff provided. (Doc. 1-1 at 3-4); Scruggs v.
Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 941 (7th Cir. 2007).
Plaintiff cannot state a federal claim based on the violation
of state law or regulations, and the denial of an
administrative complaint is not sufficient to impose
liability under § 1983. See Lennon v. City of
Carmel, 865 F.3d 503, 509 (7th Cir. 2017) (failure to
follow state law does not violate Constitution); George
v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007)
(“Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative
complaint does not cause or contribute to the
violation.”). Plaintiff also does not allege how the
named defendants would have been responsible for copying
documents he sent to the law library. For these reasons, the
remaining claims Plaintiff alleges will be dismissed.
1. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, the court finds that the plaintiff
states a First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants
Pierce Jr., Davis, Salinas, Buford, Brown, and Farr. Any
additional claims shall not be included in the case, except
at the court's discretion on motion by a party for good
cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
2. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff
is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the
defendants before filing any motions, in order to give the
defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those
motions. Motions filed before defendants' 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 defendants by
mailing each defendant a waiver of service. The defendants
have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an
answer. If the defendants have not filed answers 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 defendants have been served, the court
will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion
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 be retained only
by the clerk and shall not be maintained in the public docket
nor disclosed by the clerk.
5. The defendants shall file an answer within 60 days of the
date the waiver is sent by the clerk. A motion to dismiss is
not an answer. The answer should include all defenses
appropriate under the Federal Rules. The answer and
subsequent pleadings shall be to the issues and claims stated
in this opinion. In general, an answer sets forth the
defendants' positions. The court does not rule on the
merits of those positions unless and until a ...