Van Pelt v. Butler et al
ORDER REFERRING CASE to Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2), Plaintiffs claim for denial of his religious materials in COUNT 6 is severed into a new case. Signed by Judge Staci M. Yandle on 2/14/2018. (tjk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
RONALD M. VAN PELT, # R-00514,
JOHN DOE (Correctional Officer),
and OFFICER MAYOR,
Case No. 17-cv-1226-SMY
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
YANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Ronald Van Pelt, currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
raises several claims which arose while he was housed at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”), including interference with his religious practice, placement in an unsanitary cell,
and deprivation of his legal property. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion of the
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.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers
to a claim that “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d
1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000).
An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line
between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face
“when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters,
631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible
that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff’s claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of
the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time,
however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v.
Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d
816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
Applying these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff’s claims survive
threshold review under § 1915A. Because the Court also finds that the surviving claims are not
properly joined in the same action, one Count will be severed into a new case.
Plaintiff’s claims date back to November and December 2015. On November 28, 2015,
Plaintiff was in his cell and in the middle of his Islamic Salah prayer, when Defendant Lt. Mayor
interrupted his prayers. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). Despite the fact that Plaintiff was obviously praying
on his prayer rug, Mayor repeatedly called out to Plaintiff, ordering him to abandon his prayer
and to answer him or “there would be consequences.” Id. Plaintiff continued praying and when
he finished, asked Mayor to state his business. Mayor told Plaintiff to cuff up and took him to
Also on November 28, 2015, Plaintiff was placed in a segregation cell that was
contaminated with feces all over the cell walls, and urine on the floor. The water in the cell was
not working. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff was not given any bedding or a pillow for over 72 hours.
He complained about the conditions to John Doe Correctional Officer (who shall be designated
herein as John Doe #1), but the officer said he was not responsible for Eight Gallery, and
Plaintiff would have to talk to the gallery C/O. Plaintiff did not receive his bedding, pillows, or
clothing until December 26, 2015.
On November 30, 2015, Defendant Cameron Watson denied Plaintiff permission to visit
with his mother and 2 sisters, claiming that they were trespassing on state property. Plaintiff
disputes that they could have been trespassing, and complains that he was denied due process
when the visit was denied. (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc. 1-1, pp. 6-9).
That same day, Defendant K. Bridges gave Plaintiff an investigative status ticket for a
major infraction. (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc. 1-1, p. 10). Plaintiff asserts that according to prison
regulations, a prisoner who receives an investigative report shall be interviewed within 14 days,
and be allowed to present his views regarding the investigative placement. He alleges was never
given an interview during the entire time he was in segregation (from November 28 – December
28, 2015). (Doc. 1, p. 5).
Plaintiff’s legal property was delivered to him in segregation on December 15, 2015, by
John Doe (Badge # 10789), the personal property C/O. (Doc. 1, p. 6). By that time, Plaintiff had
been in segregation for 18 days without his legal materials. He claims that his rights were
violated because legal paperwork is required to be restored to a prisoner within 72 hours of his
placement in segregation. John Doe (Badge # 10789) also gave Plaintiff his other personal
property items. However, Plaintiff’s prayer rug, Qur’an and Kufi were missing. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
The John Doe officer told Plaintiff he would return in a few minutes with Plaintiff’s religious
items, but he never did so.
On December 26, 2015, the “property C/O John Doe returned” to bring Plaintiff his
laundry bag and clean clothing. 1 However, he still did not bring the prayer rug, Qur’an, or Kufi,
which Plaintiff pointed out to him. The following day, the John Doe officer brought Plaintiff’s
prayer rug to him. Plaintiff was released from segregation on December 28, 2015. Altogether,
Plaintiff was deprived of his prayer rug, Qur’an, and Kufi for about a month. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the alleged violations of his
rights. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro
se action into the following Counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all
In this paragraph, Plaintiff does not refer to the property officer John Doe by his badge number.
However, it appears that this John Doe is the same individual Plaintiff described earlier as “John Doe
Badge # 10789,” because Plaintiff refers to him as the “property C/O” and says that this person “returned”
to his cell with additional items. Therefore, the Court shall assume that Plaintiff is referring to a single
individual John Doe, with Badge # 10789, when he describes the events of December 15 and December
26, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that
is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed
Count 1: First Amendment claim against Mayor, for disturbing Plaintiff’s
practice of his religion on November 28, 2015;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against John Doe #1
for failing to remedy the unsanitary conditions in Plaintiff’s segregation cell on
November 28, 2015;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against Watson, for denying Plaintiff a visit
with his family members on November 30, 2015;
Count 4: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Bridges, for failing
to provide Plaintiff with a hearing after he was placed in investigative status in
segregation on November 30, 2015;
Count 5: First Amendment claim against John Doe (Badge # 10789) for
depriving Plaintiff of his legal property for 18 days while Plaintiff was in
Count 6: First Amendment claim against John Doe (Badge # 10789) for
depriving Plaintiff of his religious items (prayer rug, Qur’an, and Kufi) between
November 28 and December 28, 2015, while Plaintiff was in segregation.
As discussed below, Counts 2 and 6 survive review under § 1915A. However, Counts 1,
3, 4, and 5 fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and will be dismissed. Further,
because Counts 2 and 6 arose from separate incidents and involve different Defendants, Count 6
will be severed into a separate action. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007)
(unrelated claims against different defendants belong in separate lawsuits).
Dismissal of Count 1 – Interference with Religious Practice – Defendant Mayor
It is well-established that “a prisoner is entitled to practice his religion insofar as doing so
does not unduly burden the administration of the prison.” Hunafa v. Murphy, 907 F.2d 46, 47
(7th Cir. 1990); see Al-Alamin v. Gramley, 926 F.2d 680, 686 and nn. 3-5 (7th Cir. 1991)
(collecting cases). A prison regulation that impinges on an inmate’s First Amendment rights is
nevertheless valid “if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.” O'Lone v.
Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 349 (1987) (quoting Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987)).
Such interests include inmate security and the proper allocation of limited prison resources. See
id. at 348, 352-53; Turner, 482 U.S. at 90; Al-Alamin, 926 F.2d at 686.
In this instance, Plaintiff does not claim that a prison regulation interfered with his right
to practice his Islamic faith. Instead, he describes a single occasion when Defendant Mayor
interrupted his prayers and, in a disrespectful manner, insisted that he halt his prayers and
respond immediately to Mayor’s inquiry. However, Plaintiff did not stop praying and only
answered Mayor after he completed the Salah prayer. It is unclear whether Mayor took Plaintiff
to segregation because of this incident, or whether the move to segregation was triggered by
some other event.
While the Court does not condone Mayor’s alleged behavior, this single, and apparently
isolated incident does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. By Plaintiff’s own
description, Mayor did not stop him from completing his prayers. While Mayor’s interruption
was no doubt annoying and disrespectful, Plaintiff does not allege that he suffered any actual
injury from this incident. The adage de minimis non curat lex (the law does not concern itself
with trifles) applies with the same force in civil rights litigation as in any other tort action, and in
order to be actionable, a tort requires injury. Bart v. Telford, 677 F.2d 622, 625 (7th Cir. 1982).
Accordingly, the First Amendment claim in Count 1 against Defendant Mayor will be
dismissed without prejudice, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Count 2 – Unsanitary Cell Conditions – Defendant John Doe #1
The Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment forbids unnecessary
and wanton infliction of pain, and punishment grossly disproportionate to the severity of the
crime. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981) (quoting Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153,
173 (1976)); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Prison conditions that deprive
inmates of basic human needs – food, medical care, sanitation, or physical safety – may violate
the Eighth Amendment. Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346; see also James v. Milwaukee Cnty., 956 F.2d
696, 699 (7th Cir. 1992). Two elements are required to establish a violation of the Eighth
Amendment. The first – an objective element – requires a showing that the conditions deny the
inmate “the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities,” creating an excessive risk to the
inmate’s health or safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. The second component is a subjective
element, and requires evidence establishing a defendant’s culpable state of mind; deliberate
indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to the inmate from those conditions. Farmer,
511 U.S. at 837, 842.
Plaintiff claims that the walls of his segregation cell were smeared with feces, the floor
was contaminated with urine, and the cell lacked running water. Unsanitary conditions similar to
these have been found to state a claim under the Eighth Amendment. See Vinning-El v. Long,
482 F.3d 923, 924 (7th Cir. 2007) (prisoner held in cell for three to six days with no working
sink or toilet, floor covered with water, and walls smeared with blood and feces); Jackson v.
Duckworth, 955 F.2d 21, 22 (7th Cir. 1992) (summary judgment improper where inmate alleged
he lived with “filth, leaking and inadequate plumbing, roaches, rodents, the constant smell of
human waste, . . . [and] unfit water to drink[.]”); Johnson v. Pelker, 891 F.2d 136, 139 (7th Cir.
1989) (inmate held for three days in cell with no running water and feces smeared on walls).
While Plaintiff does not state whether these conditions persisted for the entire 30 days he spent in
segregation, the Complaint satisfies the objective element of an Eighth Amendment claim at this
With respect to the subjective element, Plaintiff alleges that he complained about the cell
conditions to Defendant John Doe Correctional Officer #1 on November 28, 2015, soon after he
was placed in the cell. John Doe #1 allegedly failed to take any steps to assist Plaintiff with
respect to the conditions, and instead told him to talk to the C/O for Plaintiff’s gallery. The
Complaint does not disclose whether Plaintiff contacted his gallery C/O or any other official, and
does not reveal whether anyone took steps to correct the problems in the cell. Nevertheless, John
Doe #1’s refusal to address the unsanitary conditions could amount to deliberate indifference.
Count 2, therefore, merits further review.
Before this claim may proceed, however, Plaintiff must identify John Doe Correctional
Officer #1 by name so that he may be served with notice of the action.
Dismissal of Count 3 – Visitation Denial – Defendant Watson
Reasonable restrictions on prisoners’ rights to have visitors, such as to punish an inmate
for a disciplinary infraction, have withstood constitutional scrutiny. See Overton v. Bazzetta, 539
U.S. 126, 131 (2003) (restrictions on inmates’ visitors were rationally related to legitimate
penological objectives and did not violate the Constitution). Moreover, “The denial of prison
access to a particular visitor ‘is well within the terms of confinement ordinarily contemplated by
a prison sentence,’ and therefore is not independently protected by the Due Process Clause.” Ky.
Dep’t of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 461 (1989).
The exhibits attached to Plaintiff’s Complaint indicate that Defendant Watson’s decision
to deny permission for Plaintiff’s mother and sisters to visit the prison was based on a trespassing
incident involving them on November 28, 2015. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 6-8). The visitation restriction
does not appear to have been imposed in order to punish Plaintiff. Relatedly, a subsequent letter
(dated January 22, 2016) restored visitation privileges to one family member (Ambia Wilkie)
after less than 2 months. (Doc. 1-1, p. 9).
A prison undoubtedly has the right to bar a particular individual from visiting the
institution for reasons of safety and security. Thompson, 490 U.S. at 461. A trespassing offense,
as cited in Watson’s letters suspending the visitation privileges for these 3 family members, fall
within that scope. The letters also described the procedure for requesting visiting privileges to be
restored. In consideration of all these circumstances, the visitation restriction that affected
Plaintiff’s ability to receive visits from 3 family members did not violate Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights. Accordingly, Count 3 will be dismissed without prejudice for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Dismissal of Count 4 – Denial of Hearing – Defendant Bridges
Illinois statutes and correctional regulations do not place limitations on prison officials’
discretion to place inmates in administrative segregation, including investigative or temporary
lockdown or confinement and involuntary protective custody. As such, there is no liberty
interest implicated by an inmate’s placement in these forms of segregation. Williams v. Ramos,
71 F.3d 1246, 1248 (7th Cir. 1995); Pardo v. Hosier, 946 F.2d 1278, 1281-84 (7th Cir. 1991);
Kellas v. Lane, 923 F.2d 492, 494-95 (7th Cir. 1991); see generally Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S.
472, 483 (1995); Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460 (1983). Where a liberty interest is not involved,
there is no constitutional requirement to follow due process procedures.
As grounds for his due process claim, Plaintiff invokes prison regulations which
allegedly state that an interview must be provided to the inmate within 14 days of being placed in
investigative status. However, a federal due process claim is not implicated, even if a state
regulation was violated. A federal court does not enforce state law or regulations. Archie v. City
of Racine, 847 F.2d 1211, 1217 (7th Cir. 1988) (en banc), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1065 (1989);
Pasiewicz v. Lake Cnty. Forest Preserve Dist., 270 F.3d 520, 526 (7th Cir. 2001).
For these reasons, Count 4 fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and
will be dismissed.
Dismissal of Count 5 – Deprivation of Legal Property – John Doe Officer (Badge # 10789)
Plaintiff alleges that he was without his legal materials for 18 days after he was moved to
the segregation cell. John Doe Officer (Badge # 10789) eventually delivered the materials to
him. This John Doe is the only Defendant Plaintiff names in connection with this claim.
Plaintiff cites a prison rule directing prison officials to return legal paperwork to an
inmate within 72 hours after he is placed in segregation, as the basis for his claim. However, as
noted above under Count 4, the existence of a state regulation does not create a right that may be
enforced in federal court. Archie, 847 F.2d at 1217. That said, the deprivation of an inmate’s
legal documents may amount to a constitutional violation if it prevents the inmate from accessing
the courts. To state such a claim, a plaintiff must describe “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,” Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 671 (7th Cir. 2009)
(internal quotation and citation omitted); accord Guajardo Palma v. Martinson, 622 F.3d 801,
805-06 (7th Cir. 2010).
In the instant case, Plaintiff does not proffer any allegations that describe an actual or
potential limitation on his access to the courts. Therefore, Count 5 shall be dismissed without
prejudice for failure to state a claim.
Count 6 – Deprivation of Religious Materials – John Doe Officer (Badge # 10789)
Plaintiff asserts a claim against this defendant for his failure to return certain religious
items to Plaintiff. “[P]rison officials may legitimately impose certain restrictions on the practice
of religion in prison . . .” where there is a compelling interest. Childs v. Duckworth, 705 F.2d
915, 920 (7th Cir. 1983) (citations omitted).
Legitimate penological interests include the
preservation of security in prison, as well as economic concerns. See Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d
664, 669 (7th Cir. 2009). When these concerns are raised as justifications by prison officials for
their actions that restrict the practice of religion, the Court looks at four factors to determine
whether the restriction is constitutional:
(1) whether the restriction “is rationally related to a legitimate and neutral
governmental objective”; (2) “whether there are alternative means of exercising
the right that remain open to the inmate”; (3) “what impact an accommodation of
the asserted right will have on guards and other inmates”; and (4) “whether there
are obvious alternatives to the [restriction] that show that it is an exaggerated
response to [penological] concerns.”
Ortiz, 561 F.3d at 669 (citing Lindell v. Frank, 377 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2004)). See also
Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987).
Additionally, a prison official who denies a prisoner’s request for an accommodation that
would enable him to freely practice his religion may run afoul of the prisoner’s First Amendment
rights. See Hunafa v. Murphy, 907 F.2d 46, 47 (7th Cir. 1990); see also Vinning-El v. Evans,
657 F.3d 591, 593-94 (7th Cir. 2011); Al-Alamin v. Gramley, 926 F.2d 680, 686 and nn. 3-5 (7th
Cir. 1991) (collecting cases). Here, Plaintiff maintains that his ability to practice his faith was
impaired during the approximately 30 days that John Doe Officer (Badge # 10789) failed to
return his religious items to him.
At this early stage, the claim in Count 6 survives review under § 1915A. As with the
claim in Count 2, however, Plaintiff must identify the unknown officer by name before the claim
Dismissal of Warden Butler
Plaintiff includes Kimberly Butler, the former Warden of Menard, in the caption and in
his list of Defendants, but fails to mention her in the body of the Complaint. Plaintiffs are
required to associate specific defendants with specific claims, so that defendants are put on
notice of the claims brought against them. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007); FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). Where a plaintiff has not included a defendant in his
statement of the claim, the defendant cannot be said to be adequately put on notice of which
claims in the Complaint, if any, are directed against him. Merely invoking the name of a
potential defendant is insufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort,
143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). Moreover, in the case of a defendant in a supervisory
position, the doctrine of respondeat superior (supervisory liability) is not applicable to § 1983
actions. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted).
Plaintiff does not allege that Butler was in any way personally responsible for any alleged
deprivation of his constitutional rights, and his narrative does not indicate that she took part in
the events that gave rise to his claims. Accordingly, Butler will be dismissed from this action
Severance of Claims & Defendants
In addition to conducting a merits review under § 1915A, the Court must consider
whether the surviving claims and parties may properly proceed in the same joint action. Under
Rule 20(a)(2), 2 a “plaintiff may join multiple defendants in a single action only if plaintiff asserts
Rule 20, which governs joinder of parties in a single action, must be satisfied before the Court turns to
the question of whether claims are properly joined under Rule 18. Intercon Research Assoc’s, Ltd. v.
Dresser Industries, Inc., 696 F.2d 53, 57 (7th Cir. 1982); Wright, Miller, & Kane, 7 Federal Practice &
Procedure Civil 3d § 1655 (West 2017).
at least one claim to relief against each of them that arises out of the same transaction or
occurrence and presents questions of law or fact common to all.” Wright, Miller, & Kane, 7
Federal Practice & Procedure Civ. 3d § 1655 (West 2017); FED. R. CIV. P. 20(a)(2). The Seventh
Circuit instructs that unrelated claims against different defendants belong in separate lawsuits,
“not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits “but also
to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b), (g)).
From Plaintiff’s description of the defendants and events giving rise to the claims in
Counts 2 and 6, it appears that John Doe Correctional Officer #1, who failed to remedy the cell
conditions on November 28, 2015 (Count 2) is a different individual from John Doe (Badge #
10789), who failed to return Plaintiff’s religious items to him between December 15, 2015 and
December 26, 2015 (Count 6). The claims arose from two separate transactions/occurrences, and
present distinct legal and factual questions. Under Rule 20(a)(2) and George, it would be
improper for Counts 2 and 6 to proceed in the same action. Therefore, the Court will sever
Count 6 from this action and open a new case with a newly-assigned case number for that claim.
Plaintiff will be assessed an additional filing fee for the new severed case.
Identification of Unknown Defendants
Because both surviving claims involve only unknown defendants, these individuals must
be identified with particularity before service of the Complaint can be made on them. Where a
prisoner’s complaint states specific allegations describing conduct of individual prison staff
members sufficient to raise a constitutional claim, but the names of those defendants are not
known, the prisoner should have the opportunity to engage in limited discovery to ascertain the
identity of those defendants. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 832 (7th
To that end, the Clerk will be directed to add the current Warden of Menard (Official
Capacity only) as a party to this action as well as to the severed action. The Warden shall be
responsible for responding to discovery aimed at identifying the unknown Defendants.
Guidelines for discovery will be set by the United States Magistrate Judge. Once the name of
Defendant John Doe Correctional Officer #1 is discovered, Plaintiff shall file a motion in this
action to substitute the newly identified defendant in place of the generic designation in the case
caption and throughout the Complaint. Plaintiff shall follow the same procedure to substitute the
proper name for John Doe (Badge # 10789) in the severed action.
Plaintiff’s motion for recruitment of counsel (Doc. 3) shall be referred to the United
States Magistrate Judge for further consideration.
The motion for service of process at government expense (Doc. 4) is TERMINATED
AS MOOT. No such motion is necessary for a Plaintiff who has been granted leave to proceed
in forma pauperis (“IFP”). The Court shall order service on all named defendants who remain in
the action following threshold review under § 1915A. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d).
The Clerk is DIRECTED to add the WARDEN of MENARD CORRECTIONAL
CENTER (Official Capacity only) as a Defendant in this action.
Further, the Clerk is
DIRECTED to modify the Defendant designated as “John Doe Correctional Officer” to JOHN
DOE CORRECTIONAL OFFICER #1.
COUNTS 1, 3, 4, and 5 are DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted.
Defendants BUTLER, WATSON, BRIDGES, and
MAYOR are DISMISSED from this action without prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
20(a)(2), Plaintiff’s claim for denial of his religious materials in COUNT 6 is severed into a new
That new case will be:
Claims against JOHN DOE (BADGE # 10789), and the
WARDEN of MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER (Official Capacity only).
In the new case, the Clerk is DIRECTED to file the following documents:
This Memorandum and Order
The Original Complaint (Doc. 1)
Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2)
Plaintiff’s motion for recruitment of counsel (Doc. 3)
Plaintiff will be responsible for an additional $350.00 filing fee in the new case.
Because this Memorandum and Order contains the §1915A merits review of the severed
Count 6, referral may be made to the magistrate judge and service may be ordered on the Warden
of Menard in the second severed case, as soon as the new case is opened and the judge
assignment is made. No service shall be ordered on the John Doe (Badge # 10789) until such
time as Plaintiff identifies him by name and files a motion in the severed case, to substitute the
newly identified Defendant in place of the generic designation in the case caption and throughout
the Complaint. Plaintiff is ADVISED that it is his responsibility to provide the name and service
address for this individual.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the only claim remaining in this action is COUNT 2
against JOHN DOE CORRECTIONAL OFFICER #1 and the WARDEN of MENARD
CORRECTIONAL CENTER (Official Capacity), for confining Plaintiff in an unsanitary cell on
November 28, 2015. This case shall now be captioned as: RONALD M. VAN PELT, Plaintiff,
vs. JOHN DOE CORRECTIONAL OFFICER #1 and the WARDEN of MENARD
CORRECTIONAL CENTER (Official Capacity), Defendants.
As to COUNT 2, which remains in the instant case, the Clerk of Court shall prepare for
WARDEN of MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER (Official Capacity): (1) Form 5
(Notice of a Lawsuit and Request to Waive Service of a Summons), and (2) Form 6 (Waiver of
Service of Summons). The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail these forms, a copy of the Complaint,
and this Memorandum and Order to Defendant’s place of employment as identified by Plaintiff.
If Defendant fails to sign and return the Waiver of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk
within 30 days from the date the forms were sent, the Clerk shall take appropriate steps to effect
formal service on Defendant, and the Court will require Defendant to pay the full costs of formal
service, to the extent authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
If the Defendant cannot be found at the address provided by Plaintiff, the employer shall
furnish the Clerk with the Defendant’s current work address, or, if not known, the Defendant’s
last-known address. This information shall be used only for sending the forms as directed above
or for formally effecting service. Any documentation of the address shall be retained only by the
Clerk. Address information shall not be maintained in the court file, nor disclosed by the Clerk.
Service shall not be made on Defendant JOHN DOE CORRECTIONAL OFFICER #1
until such time as Plaintiff has identified him by name in a properly filed motion for substitution
of parties. Plaintiff is ADVISED that it is his responsibility to provide the Court with the name
and service address for this individual.
Defendant is ORDERED to timely file an appropriate responsive pleading to the
complaint and shall not waive filing a reply pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g).
Pursuant to Local Rule 72.1(a)(2), this action is REFERRED to United States
Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly for further pre-trial proceedings, which shall include a
determination on the pending motion for recruitment of counsel (Doc. 3).
Further, this entire matter shall be REFERRED to United States Magistrate Judge Daly
for disposition, pursuant to Local Rule 72.2(b)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), if all parties consent to
such a referral.
If judgment is rendered against Plaintiff, and the judgment includes the payment of costs
under § 1915, Plaintiff will be required to pay the full amount of the costs, notwithstanding that
his application to proceed in forma pauperis has been granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(f)(2)(A).
Finally, Plaintiff is ADVISED that he is under a continuing obligation to keep the Clerk
of Court and each opposing party informed of any change in his address; the Court will not
independently investigate his whereabouts. This shall be done in writing and not later than 7
days after a transfer or other change in address occurs. Failure to comply with this order will
cause a delay in the transmission of court documents and may result in dismissal of this action
for want of prosecution. See FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: February 14, 2018
s/ STACI M. YANDLE
United States District Judge
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