Anderson v. Boyd et al
OPINION AND ORDER DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank Prisoner Complaint form and send it to the plaintiff. GRANTS Kersee K. Anderson until 04/05/2018, to file an amended complaint and CAUTIONS Kersee K. Anderson that if he does not respond by that deadline, this case will be dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the complaint does not state a claim. Signed by Judge Philip P Simon on 03/07/2018. (Copy mailed as directed in Order)(sct)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
KERSEE K. ANDERSON,
SHERIFF JOHN BOYD, et al.,
CAUSE NO. 3:17-CV-811 PPS
OPINION AND ORDER
Kersee K. Anderson, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint against
Sheriff John Boyd and the staff at the LaPorte County Jail. “A document filed pro se is
to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be
held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Nevertheless,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I 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. “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 Cir. 2006).
Anderson alleges that the defendants violated his First Amendment right of
access to the courts by denying him access to the law library. Inmates have a First
Amendment right of access to the courts, but there is no “abstract free-standing right”
to a law library or to legal materials. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). In other
words, “the mere denial of access to a prison law library or to other legal materials is
not itself a violation of a prisoner's rights; his right is to access the courts,” and only if
the defendants’ conduct prejudices a potentially meritorious legal claim has the right
been infringed. Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 968 (7th Cir. 2006). The complaint does
not describe a potentially meritorious legal claim. Anderson thus does not state a claim
of interference with the right of access to the courts.
Nevertheless, I will give Anderson an opportunity to file an amended complaint.
See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013). However, merely because he is
permitted to file an amended complaint is not a reason for him to do so. Anderson
should file an amended complaint only if he believes that he can identify a potentially
meritorious legal claim and explain how a lack of access to the law library prejudiced
his ability to pursue that claim.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank Prisoner Complaint
form and send it to the plaintiff;
(2) GRANTS Kersee K. Anderson until April 5, 2018, to file an amended
(3) CAUTIONS Kersee K. Anderson that if he does not respond by that deadline,
this case will be dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because
the complaint does not state a claim.
SO ORDERED on March 7, 2018.
/s/ Philip P. Simon
United States District Court
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