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Champ v. Morris

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 4, 2019

BRYON K. CHAMP, #B39776, Plaintiff,
v.
CHERYL SIMMON, and CARRIES MORRIS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

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

         Plaintiff Byron Champ, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections who is currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center, commenced this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, while he was a pretrial detainee held at the Winnebago County Jail. He claims deprivations of his constitutional rights arising from events that occurred during his time at Chester Mental Health Center (“Chester”). He seeks monetary damages.

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review 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). At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriquez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges the following: Cheryl Simmon is the Coordinator for Unit Three Module and is responsible for all mail at Chester. (Doc. 11, p. 1, 9, 15). On May 23, 2018, he received a letter from a district court that Simmon opened with Plaintiff present. A few days later, he received another letter from the same district court that had been previously opened not in his presence, resealed with tape and in “disarray.” Id. at p. 7, 9, 10. When Plaintiff asked why the letter was sealed with tape, Simmon responded that the letter might have been sent like that. Id. at 10. Plaintiff called the clerk of the district court who told him that the court does not send mail that has been taped. Id. at pp. 7, 9, 10, 13.

         Plaintiff filed grievances regarding the mishandling of his mail with his therapist, Carries Morris, but he never received a response. (Doc. 11, p. 2). He believes that Morris did not file his grievances and hindered his ability to seek redress because he never heard back or was scheduled an appointment or hearing. Id. at pp. 2, 6, 14.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the First Amended Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the claims in this case into the following six Counts:

Count 1: First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claim against Simmon for opening Plaintiff's legal mail without him being present.
Count 2: Fourth Amendment right to privacy claim against Simmon for opening Plaintiff's legal mail without him being present.
Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Simmon for opening Plaintiff's legal mail without him being present.
Count 4: Illinois state law claim under 405 ILCS 5/2-103 and the Chester Mental Health Center Patient Handbook against Simmon for opening Plaintiff's mail without him being present.
Count 5: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Morris for mishandling and failing to process Plaintiff's grievances regarding his legal mail.
Count 6: First Amendment access to the courts claim against Morris and Simmons for the mishandling of Plaintiff's legal ...

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