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Minerly v. Nalley

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 7, 2019

ROBERT MINERLY, # K63470, Plaintiff,
v.
NICK NALLEY, PAUL YATES, OFFICER APARICIO, OFFICER MEZO, OFFICER VALDEZ, AND JOHN R. BALDWIN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Robert Minerly, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), brings this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks relief for restrictions on his ability to access the courts or utilize grievance procedures while incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“BMRCC”).

         The Complaint is subject to preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to filter out non-meritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who 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 liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff claims he was retaliated against and prevented from having full access to the grievance system or legal system at BMRCC. Based on the allegations set forth in the Complaint (Doc. 1, pp. 1-90), which will be addressed in more detail herein, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following Counts, consistent with Plaintiff's designation of his claims in the Complaint:

Count 1: Defendant Nalley seized Plaintiff's legal materials, issued a disciplinary ticket, and engaged in a course of harassing conduct against Plaintiff as retaliation for Plaintiff's grievances about his behavior.
Count 2: Defendants Nalley, Yates, and Aparicio entered a conspiracy to prevent Plaintiff from bringing any claims against them.
Count 3: Defendant Valdez violated Plaintiff's due process rights when he confronted him in the shower area of the prison about a disciplinary ticket and gave him a short disciplinary hearing.
Count 4: Class action claim regarding the adequacy of the grievance procedures in the IDOC.

         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 other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[1]

         Plaintiff alleges that his trouble began as early as 2016 when he initiated a lawsuit against various IDOC employees (Case No. 16-CV-782). (Doc. 1, p. 8). On April 24, 2017, Nick Nalley allegedly rummaged through Plaintiff's legal property, made derogatory comments, and seized the materials in a plastic trash bag. (Id. at 9). Plaintiff alleges that among the materials seized, he lost a full draft of a case he intended to file, as well as his legal books and dictionary. (Id. at 10). He complained to Warden Sullivan and other defendants and was ultimately granted a pass to visit Nalley's office. (Id.). Nalley allegedly verbally harassed Plaintiff about existing lawsuits and the possibility that Plaintiff would file more in the future. (Id.). Plaintiff was allowed to retrieve some of his legal materials from a cart. (Id.). Nalley ultimately wrote Plaintiff a ticket for possession contraband. (Id.).

         The next day, Plaintiff learned from another inmate that Mezo and Nalley were planning to move him from one cell to another as retaliation. (Id.). Plaintiff complained to the librarian, Jenny Wilson, and wrote to his lawyer about the retaliation. (Id.). On April 26, 2017, Plaintiff was summoned from the prison kitchen to move his belongings to a new cell. (Id.). During the move, he notified Mezo that he would conduct a hunger strike to protest the move. (Id.). In response, Mezo wrote a disciplinary ticket on April 27, 2017 and put Plaintiff in segregation. (Id.).

         While Plaintiff was in segregation, Valdez came to the shower area on April 28, 2017 and briefly asked Plaintiff about the contraband disciplinary ticket from Nalley. (Id. at 12). Shortly after his shower, Plaintiff was taken to a disciplinary hearing about the ticket from Mezo. (Id.). He was found not guilty of the Mezo ticket. (Id.). He continued a hunger strike during this time. (Id.).

         On April 29, 2017, Lieutenant Berkley tried to speak to Plaintiff about the hunger strike to no avail. (Id. at 13). On the same day, Warden Jason Garnett spoke with Plaintiff about the hunger strike and his housing location. (Id.). Plaintiff informed Garnett about the retaliation and other conduct by Mezo and Nalley. (Id.). Garnett indicated that he did not want to return Plaintiff to his normal housing unit because of potential retaliation, but he agreed to move Plaintiff's old cellmate so that they could be housed together in exchange for ...


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