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Oliver v. Moreland

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 9, 2019

KING MICHAEL OLIVER, also known as MICHAEL OLIVER, #B89925, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. MORELAND, C/O WITT, C/O HUBER, C/O WELLS, SGT. MELTON, LT. J. SAMS, C/O VICKERS, SGT. MELCHERT, LT. SEAGO, C/O REINCKE, SGT. BERGBOWER, MAJOR MILES, ELAIN R. DONAHUE, WARDEN OF GRAHAM CORRECTIONAL CENTER, and INMATE MONTE RICHIE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

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

         This matter is before the Court for preliminary review of the First Amended Petition (“First Amended Complaint”) filed by Plaintiff Michael Oliver. (Doc. 10, pp. 1-32). Plaintiff claims that Graham Correctional Center (“Graham”) officials conspired with an inmate to murder him in retaliation for filing grievances in May 2019. He seeks monetary and equitable relief. (Id. at p. 12).

         The First Amended Complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Section 1915A requires the Court to screen prisoner complaints and 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 by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         First Amended Complaint

         In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations: Plaintiff describes an elaborate conspiracy by Graham officials to murder him in retaliation for filing grievances. (Doc. 10, pp. 1-30). In May 2019, Plaintiff filed one or more grievances to complain about the conditions of his confinement. (Id.). He complained of a single chicken-less food tray, several cold showers, and a bar of soap that irritated his skin. (Id.) Graham officials and Inmate Richie responded to the grievances by plotting to poison Plaintiff and/or his cellmate. (Id.). Plaintiff either refused a poisoned food tray or ingested poisonous food and survived. (Id.). Either way, the plot was ineffective.[1] (Id.). Plaintiff survived and filed this action involving four claims against fifteen defendants, which he characterizes as:

Count 1: Deprivation of rights under color of state law and the institutional wide conspiracy to deprive inmates of their constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment (cold showers).
Count 2: Retaliation against Plaintiff for filing “the grievance.”[2]
Count 3: Conspiracy to commit murder.
Count 4: Conditions-of-confinement claim.

(See Doc. 10, pp. 1-31). 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 claim that is mentioned in the First Amended Complaint but not addressed herein is considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under Twombly.[3]

         Discussion

         The First Amended Complaint is legally and factually frivolous. A claim is considered legally frivolous when it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Felton v. City of Chicago, 827 F.3d 632, 635 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989)). Allegations are factually frivolous when they are “clearly baseless, ” “fanciful, ” “fantastic, ” “delusional, ” “irrational, ” or “wholly incredible.” Felton, 827 F.3d at 635 (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992)). Plaintiff's allegations and claims are frivolous under both standards.

         Civil conspiracy claims are cognizable under Section 1983. Lewis v. Washington, 300 F.3d 829, 831 (7th Cir. 2002). A civil conspiracy generally consists of “a combination of two or more persons acting in concert to commit an unlawful act, or to commit a lawful act by unlawful means.” Beaman v. Freesmeyer, 776 F.3d 500, 510 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Scherer v. Balkema, 840 F.2d 437, 441-42 (7th Cir. 1988)). But a civil conspiracy claim provides no independent basis for liability under Section 1983. Lewis, 300 F.3d at 831.

         In this case, Plaintiff also asserts claims for retaliation and unconstitutional conditions of confinement. A First Amendment retaliation claim arises where an inmate alleges “(1) he engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a deprivation likely to deter such activity; and (3) the First Amendment activity was at least a motivating factor in the decision to impose the deprivation.” Hawkins v. Mitchell,756 F.3d 983, 996 (7th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). An Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement arises where a prisoner is exposed to “extreme deprivations” that deny him the “minimal civilized measure of life's necessities” and are met with ...


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