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Holleman v. Zatecky

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

July 14, 2015

DUSHAN ZATECKY, individually and in his official capacity as Superintendent of the Pendleton Correctional Facility, et al., Defendants.



Pursuant to statute, federal courts must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). This Entry performs that task in this case.


The operative pleading in this civil rights action is the supplemental complaint filed by plaintiff Robert Mr. Holleman on September 18, 2014.

Mr. Mr. Holleman is a convicted offender confined at the Pendleton Correctional Facility ("Pendleton"). The defendants are employed by the Indiana Department of Correction ("DOC") at Pendleton in the capacities specified below and each is sued in his or her individual capacity and official capacity:

Captain Gilley was a named defendant in the original complaint. He is a named defendant in the supplemental complaint. However, the original complaint has been dismissed as legally insufficient and no claim of misconduct is asserted against Captain Gilley in the supplemental complaint. Captain Gilley is therefore not mentioned further in the body of this Entry. The clerk shall terminate Captain Gilley as a defendant.

Mr. Holleman alleges that the defendants violated his federally secured rights through their retaliation against him and their denial of his right to due process. Specifically, Mr. Holleman recounts that on May 21, 2014 an investigation into his possible misuse of a computer was initiated because he had filed an informal grievance having to do with a building modification program at Pendleton. The following day, he submitted an informal grievance having to do with the investigation just referenced. Mr. Holleman was suspended from his prison job as an inmate clerk at the Pendleton Law Library. He was then placed in a lock-up unit on May 27, 2014.

A conduct report charging Mr. Holleman with misuse of a computer was issued by Internal Affairs Officer Francum on July 16, 2014.

The conduct report was dismissed and Mr. Holleman was released from the lock-up unit on July 31, 2014. Mr. Holleman spent 66 days in the lock-up unit. His job in the Pendleton Law Library was then taken from him. The Classification Department, through defendant Johnson, refused to reinstate Mr. Holleman to the prison job which had been taken from him. Mr. Holleman's current housing assignment affords him fewer amenities and less freedom of movement than the honor dorm to which he had previously been assigned. His efforts to be rehired as an inmate clerk at the Pendleton Law Library were rebuffed.

From the foregoing allegations, Mr. Holleman asserts eight claims. These claims overlap, they are cluttered with buzzwords and labels and they exceed any conceivable scope of what is asserted. Nonetheless, the court liberally construes the pleadings of pro se litigants such as Mr. Holleman and the supplemental complaint is not so bereft of coherent content that the court is unable to make sense of it. And so the court does exactly that.


Mr. Holleman was a "prisoner" as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h) at the time this action was filed and remains so. This means that the supplemental complaint is subject to the screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that pleadings contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." See Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163 (1993).

"A complaint must always... allege enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Limestone Development Corp. v. Village of Lemont, Ill., 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "The Supreme Court's decisions in Iqbal and Twombly hold that a complaint must be dismissed unless it contains a plausible claim.'" Reserve Hotels PTY Ltd. v. Mavrakis, No. 14-2990, 2015 WL 3852645, at *2 (7th Cir. June 23, 2015)(quoting Bank of America, N.A. v. Knight, 725 F.3d 815, 818 (7th Cir. 2013)).

In reviewing a complaint, the court accepts the factual allegations as true, but conclusory assertions or a recitation of a cause of action's elements are not. See Ray v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 662 (7th Cir. 2011)("[W]e need not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.") (internal citations omitted). A claim's insufficiency can be "based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). As already noted, pro se ...

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