TRIPP et al v. CARTER et al
Entry Dismissing Complaint and Directing Filing of Amended Complaint - The dismissal of the complaint will not in this instance lead to the dismissal of the action at present. Instead, the plaintiffs shall have through October 24, 2017, in whi ch to file an amended complaint. Given the dismissal of the complaint, the plaintiff's premature motion for preliminary injunction seeking transfer to another facility, dkt 6 , is DENIED (SEE ENTRY). Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 9/25/2017. (Attachments: # 1 copy of the prisoner civil rights complaint form) (DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
ROB CARTER Commissioner I.D.O.C.,
BRIAN SMITH Warden Putnamville
CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS Putnamville
Entry Dismissing Complaint and Directing Filing of Amended Complaint
I. Screening Standard
The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Putnamville Correctional Facility.
Because the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), this Court has an obligation
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service on the defendants. Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court applies the same standard
as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See
Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a
claim for relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility 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 (2009). Pro se complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff
are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
II. The Complaint
The plaintiff’s complaint, which is full of legal analysis and irrelevant facts, violates Rule
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. That rule requires that pleadings contain “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. . . . .” See United
States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed–Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003) (“Rule 8(a)
requires parties to make their pleadings straightforward, so that judges and adverse parties need
not try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud.”); Jennings v. Emry, 910 F.2d 1434, 1436 (7th
Cir. 1990) (complaint “must be presented with sufficient clarity to avoid requiring a district court
or opposing party to forever sift through its pages” to determine whether it states a valid claim).
In particular, the inclusion of claims which are pending in Tripp v. Spanenberg, 2:17-cv-45-JMSMPB is confusing and unnecessary.
To assist the plaintiff in filing a complaint that complies with Rule 8, the plaintiff is notified
that to state a claim for retaliation, he needs only to allege that he engaged in conduct protected by
the First Amendment, and that the defendants retaliated against him based on that conduct. See
Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1008–09 (7th Cir. 2002). For example, the plaintiff has no
constitutional right to be housed in any particular institution. See Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S.
209, 221 (2005)(“[T]he Constitution itself does not give rise to a liberty interest in avoiding
transfer to more adverse conditions of confinement.”). But, otherwise permissible conduct can
become impermissible when done for retaliatory reasons. Murphy v. Lane, 833 F.2d 106, 108–09
(7th Cir. 1987) (district court reversed for dismissing complaint challenging otherwise permissible
prison transfer because of sufficient allegation of retaliation). A complaint states a claim for
retaliation when it sets forth “a chronology of events from which retaliation may plausibly be
inferred.” Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 573 (7th Cir. 2000) (quoting Cain v. Lane, 857
F.2d 1139, 1143 n.6 (7th Cir. 1988)). “Conversely, alleging merely the ultimate fact of retaliation
is insufficient.” Murphy, 833 F.2d at 108.
That said, the complaint alleges that the defendants were responsible for filing reports of
misconduct (or condoning those reports) which resulted in disciplinary proceedings and the
imposition of sanctions. According to the complaint, those sanctions included the deprivation of
earned good time, which in turn has the effect of lengthening the anticipated duration of the
plaintiff=s confinement. Although the plaintiff does not seek the restoration of these sanctions, the
settled law in these circumstances is that when a prisoner makes a claim that, if successful, could
shorten his term of imprisonment, the claim must be brought as a habeas petition, not as a § 1983
claim. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997), the
foregoing rule was “extend[ed] . . . to the decisions of prison disciplinary tribunals.” Gilbert v.
Cook, 512 F.3d 899, 900 (7th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, the claims in this action are dismissed
without prejudice insofar as those claims are based on actions attributed to this defendant which
resulted in the imposition of a sanction which lengthened the anticipated duration of the plaintiff=s
III. Dismissal of Complaint
Because the complaint violates Rule 8 and the Court has been unable to identify a viable
claim for relief against any particular defendant, the complaint is subject to dismissal.
The dismissal of the complaint will not in this instance lead to the dismissal of the action
at present. Instead, the plaintiffs shall have through October 24, 2017, in which to file an
In filing an amended complaint, the plaintiff shall conform to the following guidelines: (a)
the amended complaint shall comply with the requirement of Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure that pleadings contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief. . . . ,” which is sufficient to provide the defendant with “fair notice” of
the claim and its basis. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)); (b) the amended
complaint must include a demand for the relief sought; and (c) the amended complaint must
identify what legal injury they claim to have suffered and what persons are responsible for each
such legal injury. The plaintiff must state his claims “in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far
as practicable to a single set of circumstances.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b). The plaintiff is further
notified that “[u]nrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits.” George v.
Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
In organizing his complaint, the plaintiff may benefit from utilizing the Court’s complaint
form. The clerk is directed to include a copy of the prisoner civil rights complaint form along
with the plaintiff’s copy of this Entry.
Any amended complaint should have the proper case number, 2:17-cv-428 and the words
“Amended Complaint” on the first page. If an amended complaint is filed as directed above, it will
be screened. If no amended complaint is filed, this action will be dismissed for the reasons set forth
Given the dismissal of the complaint, the plaintiff’s premature motion for preliminary
injunction seeking transfer to another facility, dkt , is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
PUTNAMVILLE - CF
PUTNAMVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
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