Restricted Filer Pannell v. Leonard
OPINION AND ORDER: This case is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge Rudy Lozano on 4/19/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party).(cer)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:17-CV-272
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the State 1983 Civil Rights
Complaint, filed by David
prisoner, in the
LaPorte Superior Court (46D01-1703-PL-425), which the defendants
removed to this court on March 6, 2017. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, the court must review the merits of a prisoner complaint and
dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. FED. R. CIV. P.
12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, or any portion
of a complaint, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. Courts apply the same standard under § 1915A as when
addressing a motion under RULE 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463
F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). “In order to state a claim under §
1983 a plaintiff must allege: (1) that defendants deprived him of
a federal constitutional right; and (2) that the defendants acted
under color of state law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th
Here, Pannell is a convicted inmate and currently housed at
the Indiana State Prison. He alleges that false disciplinary
charges were filed against him by Bessie Leonard on June 13, 2016,
when she wrote a conduct report alleging that Pannell committed
“Threatening” against her during a law library visit. On June 23,
2016, Pannell was found guilty of “Threatening” by a disciplinary
hearing officer. ECF 3 at 11. Pannell argues that Leonard filed
those charges against him in retaliation for his past actions.
However, this is not the proper proceeding to challenge the prison
disciplinary hearing board’s finding because “habeas corpus is the
exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or
duration of his confinement . . ..” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,
In Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997), the United States
Supreme Court made clear that the principles of Heck also apply to
prison disciplinary cases.
In Heck, this Court held that a state prisoner’s
claim for damages is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 if a judgment in favor of the plaintiff
would necessarily imply the invalidity of his
conviction or sentence, unless the prisoner can
demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has
previously been invalidated.
Edwards, 520 U.S. at 643 (citation and quotation marks omitted).
Here, Pannell admits that he was found guilty of that offense, (ECF
3 at 11), and has not alleged that the finding of guilt has since
been invalidated. Because a finding of liability in this case would
inherently undermine the validity of his disciplinary hearing, he
may not proceed with this claim against Bessie Leonard until that
finding is overturned on administrative appeal or in a habeas
Though it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the
opportunity to file an amended complaint when a claim is dismissed
sua sponte, see Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013),
that is unnecessary where the amendment would be futile. Hukic v.
Aurora Loan Servs., 588 F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[C]ourts
have broad discretion to deny leave to amend where . . . the
amendment would be futile.”) Such is the case here. Because Pannell
concedes that he was found guilty of the underlying disciplinary
charge, it is futile to pursue this claim until that disciplinary
charge has been overturned.
For the reason set forth above, the court DISMISSES this case
DATED: April 19, 2017
/s/ RUDY LOZANO, Judge
United States District Court
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