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Clark v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 18, 2019

RAMON CLARK, #K03716, Plaintiff,
v.
TAMMY SMITH, MICHELLE NEESE, ROBERT LOVELL, and AMY BURLE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Ramon Clark, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff claims he was fired from his job as library law clerk in retaliation for filing a complaint. He requests monetary 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).

         Preliminary Dismissal

         Plaintiff has filed a motion requesting the Court to dismiss Defendant Rachel Dodd from this action. (Doc. 5). While amending the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 is generally the proper vehicle for “adding or dropping parties and claims, ” dismissing this defendant rather than ordering amendment of the Complaint is in the interest of judicial economy in this particular case. See Taylor v. Brown, 787 F.3d 851, 858 (7th Cir. 2015). Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED and Defendant Dodd is DISMISSED without prejudice.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint (Doc. 1): On December 1, 2018, Plaintiff was assigned to Robinson's law library as its law clerk. (Id. at p. 4). During his time in the library, Plaintiff was the only law clerk assigned to assist other inmates with legal documents and was the only inmate allowed access to the typewriter to assist others who could not write their legal documents by hand due to physical impairments or literacy problems. (Id. at p. 7). The librarian at Robinson expressed concerns about the amount of legal documents Plaintiff was typing for the inmates and stated she only had a few typewriter ribbons and had to save them for petitions for executive clemency. At Plaintiff's suggestion, the librarian put in a request to the educational facility administrator, Tammy Smith, asking that inmates who choose to type their documents be required to purchase their own typewriter ribbon. (Id. at pp. 7-8). In response to the request, Smith arbitrarily instructed the librarian to remove all typewriters. (Id. at p. 8). Plaintiff approached Smith about being able to use a typewriter to assist inmates with physical impairments, literacy problems, and who are non-English speaking. She denied his request and stated that the inmates “can figure it out on their own and handwrite it on their own.” (Id. at p. 9). In the following weeks, Plaintiff was overwhelmed with dozens of requests for legal assistance and had to turn away several inmates each day because he could not write all the requested legal documents by hand. (Id.).

         Plaintiff wrote a complaint to Connie Casey, the head of the law library departments at IDOC, regarding his inability to meet his responsibilities as law clerk. (Id. at p. 10). Casey forwarded a memo to Smith regarding the complaint. On June 4, 2019, Smith fired Plaintiff in retaliation for writing the complaint. (Id. at p. 11). Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the retaliatory conduct, but his grievance was denied. (Id. at pp. 11-12).

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

Count 1:First Amendment claim against Smith, Neese, Lovell, and Burle for firing Plaintiff from his position as law clerk in retaliation for filing a complaint.
Count 2:Fourteenth Amendment claim against Neese, Lovell, and Burle for mishandling and denying 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. [1]

         Discussion

         Coun ...


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