United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
November 19, 2019, this case was severed from Gakuba v.
Swells, No. 19-cv-1081-SMY (Doc. 1). It involves the
claims designated as Counts 10 and 11 in the original case,
described as follows:
Count 10: First and/or Fourteenth Amendment access to courts
claim against Catherine Wright and Karen Pannier for limiting
his access to the law library and legal documents at Vienna
Count 11: First and/or Fourteenth Amendment access to courts
claim against Angela Mize for destroying Plaintiff's
trust fund form.
was given until January 23, 2020, to inform the Court as to
whether he wanted to proceed with this lawsuit (Doc. 12). In
response, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 13) and
a request for equitable relief (Doc. 14), which the Court
construes as a determination to pursue this case.
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Amended 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).
makes the following allegations in his Amended Complaint
(Doc. 13): After transferring to Vienna Correctional Center
(“Vienna”) from Robinson Correctional Center
(“Robinson”) on September 4, 2019, Plaintiff was
taken to his legal materials on September 5, 2019, where he
learned from Catherine Wright that the legal documents were
in a heap and covered in boot prints. Wright stated that she
had never seen anything like that and called warden John
Barwick to photograph the documents (Id.). Barwick
photographed Plaintiff's legal materials and contacted
Robinson to determine what happened to Plaintiff's
documents. Plaintiff was then instructed to place the
documents in plastic boxes. Plaintiff wrote an emergency
grievance about the state of his legal documents and asked
that the photographs taken by Barwick be preserved. The
grievance was deemed not to be an emergency by Warden Swells,
and it was then denied by counselor Lane, grievance officer
Robertson, Administrative Review Board Director Bayer, and
IDOC Director Jeffrys (Id.).
September 5, 2019, to the present, Wright has limited
Plaintiff's access to his legal documents to two visits
per week for thirty minutes each visit (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5).
Plaintiff does not believe that is enough time to organize
fourteen boxes of legal documents covering all of his cases.
He also has limited access to the law library at Vienna. From
September 4, 2019, to December 4, 2019, Plaintiff was only
able to access the library twelve times for 90 minutes each
time (Id. at p. 5). The law librarian, Karen
Pannier, also refuses to allow Plaintiff to photocopy
reference materials and to provide him with legal materials
including paper, envelopes, and pens and pencils
(Id. at p. 6). As a result of Pannier's actions,
Plaintiff's habeas filings have been late or went missing
(Id. at p. 8).
also notes that he has had forty pieces of mail that was sent
to courts go missing or arrive late (Id. at p. 6).
Plaintiff submitted a grievance about his mail but Swells
deemed it a non-emergency.
identifies Vienna Mailroom Staff #1-10 in the caption of his
Amended Complaint. Plaintiff must associate each defendant
with specific acts or misconduct or omissions, in order to
put each defendant on notice of which claims in the Amended
Complaint are directed against him or her. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). Plaintiff's Amended Complaint does make
reference to missing and late mail, but he fails to provide
any specifics as to when the mail went missing, on what date
he sent the mail, and what effect those late filings had on
his pending cases. Steidl v. Fermon, 494 F.3d 623,
633 (7th Cir. 2007) (plaintiff must “give the defendant
‘fair notice' of the access claim, including the
identification of the underlying claim that was lost”);
Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 671 (7th Cir. 2009)
(“a prisoner's complaint must spell out, in minimal
detail, the connection between the alleged denial of access
to legal materials and an inability to pursue a legitimate
challenge to a conviction, sentence, or prison
conditions”) (quotations omitted). He references one
filing with the Supreme Court but the attached exhibit notes
that items were missing due to the destruction of legal
materials rather than the attachment not being sent by mail
staff (Id. at p. 22). Without this identifying
information, Plaintiff fails to provide enough information to
put each defendant on notice of the claims against them.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Further, Plaintiff's
decision to name a large group of individuals, without any
identifying information, or any facts as to how each of them
violated his constitutional rights fails to state a claim.
extent that IDOC and Vienna Correctional Center are listed as
parties in Plaintiff's caption, these are not proper
parties. The Supreme Court has held that “neither a
State nor its officials acting in their official capacities
are ‘persons' under § 1983.” Will v.
Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989).
See also Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th
Cir.2001) (Eleventh Amendment bars suits against states in
federal court for money damages); Billman v. Ind.
Dep't of Corr., 56 F.3d 785, 788 (7th Cir.1995)
(state Department of Corrections is immune from suit by
virtue of Eleventh Amendment). Thus, Plaintiff cannot
maintain his claim against Vienna because it is a division of
the Illinois Department of Corrections, a state government
agency. Based on this authority, neither Vienna nor IDOC are
“person[s]” within the meaning of the Civil
Rights Act and shall be dismissed from this action. See
Will, 491 U.S. at 71.
also attempts to allege claims of equal protection,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, spoliation,
gross negligence, and illegal tort conversion, as well as
violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and
Rehabilitation Act but he offers only bare conclusions as to
these claims. Accordingly, to ...