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Walker v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 16, 2019

JAMES E. WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
NICK LAMB, GOUNS, KINK, BLAKE, JANE DOE #1, JOHN DOE #1, OFFICER LAMB, JOHN DOE #2, OFFICER SCHOON, OFFICER LIVINGSTON, and OFFICER LOY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff James E. Walker, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 8) was denied for failure to state a claim but the Court allowed Plaintiff leave to file a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 9). Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint and then, subsequently, the pending motion for leave to file (Doc. 15) an amended complaint, because Plaintiff wanted to identify additional defendants. The Court GRANTS that motion (Doc. 15) and DIRECTS the Clerk to FILE Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint.[1]

         In the Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants failed to properly address his grievances and interfered with his access to the courts. He asserts claims against the defendants under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

         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 Third Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in his Third Amended Complaint: Plaintiff submitted a number of grievances that were not properly handled by grievance officials. In December 2016, he submitted two grievances to the counselor box concerning his medicine refills and property. They were addressed to Jane Doe #1, but she did not return them to Plaintiff. He resubmitted the grievances in January 2017, but Jane Doe #1 denied the grievances as untimely. Her failure to properly return and respond to the grievances prevented Plaintiff from properly accessing the grievance process and the court as to those potential claims.

         In May 2017, Plaintiff submitted grievances regarding missing property. The grievance was not returned by John Doe #1, which prevented Plaintiff from exhausting his grievances. He informed Lamb, Gouns, Livingston, and Blake about the conduct but they refused to correct the problem. In May 2018, Plaintiff submitted two grievances concerning a disciplinary report and property confiscation to John Doe #2 but he did not return the grievances. In June 2018, he rewrote the grievances and handed them to Lamb who informed Plaintiff that he handed them to counselor Schoon. He did not receive the grievances back until months later but they were denied as out of time. He informed Lamb, Kink, Gouns, Livingston, and Blake about John Doe #2's actions but they did not remedy the issue.

         In August 2018, Plaintiff submitted four grievances regarding damage to his television, medical co-pays, and a defective extension cord. He received some of the grievances back but two were not returned by Defendant Loy. Plaintiff wrote a grievance about Loy's failure to return the grievances and resubmitted the two grievances as exhibits. The grievance and the attached re-submitted grievances were denied. Plaintiff spoke with Loy about his grievances in August and Loy located all four grievances for Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that the two grievances were not returned by Loy out of retaliation for the number of grievances that Plaintiff filed against staff. He also wrote a grievance to Kink about the misconduct with his missing grievances but he denied the grievance.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Third Amended Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following two counts:

Count 1: Jane Doe #1, John Doe #1, John Doe #2, Lamb, Schoon, Gouns, Livingston, Blake, Kink, and Loy mishandled or improperly responded to his grievances in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment.
Count 2: Loy retaliated against Plaintiff for filing grievances in violation of the First Amendment.

         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]

         Coun ...


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