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Barnes v. Lawrence

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 18, 2019

GREGORY BARNES, #B88957, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK LAWRENCE, KRISTA ALLSUP, ANDREW SPILLER, and PATTY SNEED, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Gregory Barnes, a transgender individual and inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights that occurred while he was in custody at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Plaintiff claims he was denied the right marry and was retaliated and discriminated against by Menard employees. He requests money damages and injunctive relief.

         Plaintiff's 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. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint (Doc. 1): In December 2018, Plaintiff and his fiancée, Christian, who was also incarcerated at Menard, submitted seventeen written requests for an interview with the chaplain in order to start the process of getting married. Their requests were ignored and so they filed multiple grievances that also went unprocessed. Id. at pp. 6, 7. Plaintiff asked Warden Frank Lawrence if there was anything he could do or if Warden Lawrence could provide Plaintiff with information regarding the marriage process for inmates. Id. at p. 6. Warden Lawrence informed Plaintiff that no such event would happen at Menard and that Plaintiff should not bring the subject up again. Id. at p. 7. Plaintiff claims that Case Worker Supervisor Krista Allsup said to consider “my request like a disease, and to keep it to myself until I get out of prison.” Id.

         In March 2019, Plaintiff and Christian were taken to see Lieutenant Andrew Spiller, who threatened to separate them and place them in segregation if they did not change their minds about wanting to marry. Id. Following the meeting, Plaintiff and Christian were attacked in the barber shop and were then separated and placed in segregation. When they were released from segregation, they were no longer celled together. Id. at p. 8. Christian was transferred from Menard to Pontiac Correctional Center in June 2019.

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court designates the following five Counts:

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment right to marry claim against Lawrence, Allsup, Spiller, and Sneed for denying Plaintiff the right to marry.
Count 2: First Amendment claim of retaliation against Lawrence, Allsup, Spiller, and Sneed for not processing Plaintiff's grievances, orchestrating the attack in the barber shop, harassing and threatening Plaintiff, placing Plaintiff in segregation, and transferring Christian to another facility in retaliation for excising the right to marry and filing grievances.[1]
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against Lawrence, Allsup, Spiller, and Sneed for orchestrating an attack against Plaintiff in the barber shop.
Count 4: Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against Lawrence, Allsup, Spiller, and Sneed for discriminating against Plaintiff for being black and transgender.
Count 5: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Lawrence, Allsup, Spiller, and Sneed for the mishandling of Plaintiff's grievances.

         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 Complaint but not addressed in this Order is considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under Twombly.[2]

         Preliminary Dismissal

         As an initial matter, the Court dismisses all claims against Patty Sneed. Plaintiff alleges that Sneed, a member of the Administrative Review Board, was made aware that the other defendants were violating his constitutional rights and ignored his grievance without “any further consideration, investigation, or resolution.” (Doc. 1, p.10). Inmates do not have a constitutional right to an effective grievance procedure. Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1996). As such, the fact that prison officials denied, mishandled, or refused to consider grievances or claims raised by grievances, “who otherwise did not cause or participate in the underlying conduct[, ] states no claim.” Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 953 (7th Cir. 2011). Some personal involvement beyond the grievance process is necessary. Haywood v. Hathaway, 842 F.3d 1026 (7th Cir. 2016). Plaintiff does not provide any facts in his statement of claim that suggest Sneed had personal involvement in the alleged constitutional violations aside from processing and/or denying his grievances. Accordingly, any claims against her will be dismissed without prejudice.

         Discussion

         Coun ...


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