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Moraless v. McCraw

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 3, 2019

DANIEL MORALES, Plaintiff,
v.
NICHOLAS McCRAW, MARK E. BRAMM, MICHAEL L. TYUS, CHRISTINE N. BRANNON, JOE TERRONEZ, TODD PUSTELNIK, SHERRY BENTON, JOHN R. BALDWIN, NICOLE GENISIO, and HASSAN MARR, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Staci M. Yandle United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Daniel Morales, who was an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) at the time he filed his Complaint but has since been released, brings this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges Nicholas McCraw retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment and Defendants Mark E. Bramm, Michael L. Tyus, Christine N. Brannon, Joe Terronez, Todd Pustelnik, Sherry Benton, John Baldwin, Nicole Genisio, and Hassan Marr violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages.

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

         The Complaint

          Plaintiff makes the following allegations in his Complaint (Doc. 1): On April 25, 2018, while Plaintiff was housed at East Moline Correctional Center (“East Moline”), Defendant Nicholas McCraw noted that Plaintiff had covered his cell door window and opened the door to find Plaintiff masturbating. (Id. at p. 2). Plaintiff covered his door window to prevent anyone outside of his cell from seeing him masturbate. When McCraw confronted Plaintiff, he made comments which Plaintiff considered to be sexual in nature and to be a request for sexual favors. McCraw also stated that he was not going to write Plaintiff up for covering his window. Plaintiff felt uncomfortable with McCraw's statements and called the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) hotline to report McCraw. When McCraw learned about Plaintiff's report to the PREA hotline, he retaliated against Plaintiff by writing Plaintiff a ticket for impairment of surveillance and unauthorized movement for covering his cell door window. McCraw wrote two additional tickets against Plaintiff in retaliation for Plaintiff's actions. (Id. at p. 3).

         Plaintiff's due process rights were violated during the disciplinary proceedings for the tickets issued by McCraw.[1] The Adjustment Committee violated a number of provisions in the Administrative Code, including not having a counseling staff member on the Adjustment Committee. (Id. at p. 3). They used the offender disciplinary report in part to find Plaintiff's guilt, and IDOC rules prevent them from relying solely on the report. (Id.). Plaintiff wrote grievances but the counselors, director, ARB, and the warden refused to review the record of proceedings and ultimately determined that there was nothing wrong with the disciplinary proceedings. (Id. at p.

         4). The grievance officials violated his due process rights by upholding the disciplinary proceedings. (Id.).

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

Count 1: Nicholas McCraw retaliated against Plaintiff in violation of the First Amendment by issuing Plaintiff disciplinary reports in response to Plaintiff calling the PREA hotline to report McCraw.
Count 2: Mark Bramm and Michael Tyus violated Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment during the disciplinary proceedings on Plaintiff's disciplinary reports.
Count 3: Christine Brannon, Joe Terronez, Todd Pustelnik, Sherry Benton, John R. Baldwin, Nicole Genisio, and Hassan Marr violated Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by denying Plaintiff's grievances challenging his disciplinary proceedings.

         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.[2]

         Count 1

         Plaintiff states a viable claim for retaliation against McCraw as he alleges that McCraw wrote several disciplinary tickets in retaliation for Plaintiff reporting him to the PREA hotline. Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012); McElroy v. Lopac, 403 F.3d 855, 858 (7th Cir. 2005); Antoine v. Ramos, 4 ...


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