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Walker v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 13, 2019

JAMES E. WALKER, #R02343, Plaintiff,
v.
NICK LAMB, GOUNS, KEVIN KINK, A. BLAKE, T. KITTLE, JANE DOE 1, JANE DOE 2, JANE DOE 3, JANE DOE 4, and JOHN DOE 1, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff James E. Walker, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. He asserts claims for the denial of access to the grievance process, the law library and legal materials, and the courts. (Doc. 8, p. 12). He seeks monetary damages. (Id.)

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Amended Complaint[1] 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 requests money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Amended Complaint

          Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Amended Complaint: Jane Doe 1, John Doe 1, and Loy failed and/or refused to respond to Plaintiff's grievances. (Doc. 8, pp. 10-11). Grievances he filed about the improperly handling of his grievances were denied by Blake, Kittle, and Kink. (Id.). Lamb and Kink concurred in the denials of those grievances. (Id.). Kittle removed and/or altered documents in two of his grievances. (Id. at 11). Jane Doe 2, who was Jane Doe 1's supervisor, took no action regarding Jane Doe 1's failure to process his grievances. (Id. at 10). Law library staff refused to provide copies of grievances and other legal documents needed in connection with the filing of grievances. (Id. at 10). Jane Doe 3 refused to supply Plaintiff with a copy of a grievance. Plaintiff filed a grievance about the refusal, Blake denied the grievance, and Lamb concurred in the denial. (Id.). On one occasion, Kittle refused to supply Plaintiff with a copy of a grievance during lockdown. (Id. at 11).

         In June 2017 and January 2019, his repeated requests to access the law library and for copies of legal materials were ignored by library officials, Jane Doe 4, and Kittle. (Id.) The denial of access was endorsed by Lamb, Gouns, and Kink. (Id.)

         Lockdowns, which require Plaintiff to be confined to his cell for 24 hours a day, impede Plaintiff's access to the law library. (Id. at 10). He has no access to legal books and legal exchange where his pleadings and exhibits for his litigation are stored. (Id.) This practice is endorsed by Lamb and Gouns. (Id.)

         Preliminary Dismissals

          Plaintiff makes allegations against Loy but did not identify him in the case caption or list of Defendants. Accordingly, any claim Plaintiff intended to bring against Loy is dismissed without prejudice. See Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (holding that to be properly considered a party, a defendant must be specified in the caption).

         Plaintiff sues Defendants in their individual and official capacities but seeks only monetary damages. When a plaintiff seeks monetary damages against a state official, he must bring the suit against the official in his or her individual capacity. See Shockley v. Jones, 823 F.2d 1068, 1070 (7th Cir. 1987). Therefore, to the extent Plaintiff attempts to bring claims for monetary damages against Defendants in their official capacities, those claims are dismissed with prejudice.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff asserts that the access he has been given to the grievance process and to the courts is constitutionally inadequate in violation of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court cannot discern, and Plaintiff does not articulate, how the Fifth Amendment applies to the events described in his Amended Complaint. Thus, Plaintiff's claims shall be analyzed under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and any claim under the Fifth Amendment is dismissed without prejudice.

         Based on the allegations in the Amended Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide this action into the following Counts:

Count 1: First Amendment claim against Defendants Lamb, Kink, Blake, Kittle, Loy, Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, Jane Doe 3, and John Doe 1 for failing to respond to and/or process Plaintiff's grievances, impeding his ability to file grievances, denying his grievances, and/or concurring in the denial of his grievances.
Count 2: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants Lamb, Kink, Blake, Kittle, Loy, Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, Jane Doe 3, and John Doe 1 for failing to respond to and/or process Plaintiff's grievances, denying his grievances, and/or concurring in the denial of his grievances.
Count 3: First Amendment claim against Defendants Jane Doe 4, Kittle, Lamb, Gouns, and Kink for denying Plaintiff access to the courts by failing to provide plaintiff with access to ...

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