United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge United States District Court Judge
Williams, a pro se prisoner, filed an amended complaint (DE
35). In a previous order (DE 36), the court limited the
claims in this case to those in Sections 1 and 2 of that
complaint where Mr. Williams alleges that Superintendent Ron
Neal and Executive Assistant Howard Morton retaliated against
him by denying the restoration of good time credits because
he filed a lawsuit. “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, 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.
prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim, [Mr.
Williams] must show that (1) he engaged in activity protected
by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a deprivation that
would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future;
and (3) the First Amendment activity was at least a
motivating factor in the Defendants' decision to take the
retaliatory action.” Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d
859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks and citations
omitted). Here, Mr. Williams has pleaded sufficient facts to
meet the first prong because he alleges that he engaged in a
First Amendment activity by filing a lawsuit against the
former Superintendent. He has pleaded sufficient facts to
meet the second prong because being denied the restoration of
earned credit time extends the duration of his confinement.
However he has not pleaded sufficient facts to meet the third
prong showing that either Ron Neal or Howard Morton were in
any way motivated to act because he had sued the former
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to
“state a claim that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
pleaded factual content 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) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
556). Legal conclusions can provide a complaint's
framework, but unless well-pleaded factual allegations move
the claims from conceivable to plausible, they are
insufficient to state a claim. Id. at 680.
“[C]ourts are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986) (quotation marks
omitted). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide
the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level, on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact).” Id. (quotation marks, citations and
footnote omitted). “[I]n considering the
plaintiff's factual allegations, courts should not accept
as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause
of action or conclusory legal statements.” Brooks
v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009).
“[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the
complaint has alleged-but it has not shown- that the pleader
is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal at 679
(quotation marks and brackets omitted). Thus, “a
plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on paper
that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might
suggest that something has happened to her that
might be redressed by the law.” Swanson v.
Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010)
(emphasis in original).
the case here. Mr. Williams has not alleged facts from which
it can be plausibly inferred that either Ron Neal or Howard
Morton personally knew about the previous lawsuit. If they
did not know about that case, they could not have been
motivated to retaliate against Mr. Williams because of it.
Also, he has not alleged facts from which it can be
reasonably inferred that either defendant applied the earned
credit time restoration policy differently in his case than
for other inmates. If they applied the rules to Mr. Williams
in the same way they did for all other inmates, it would not
be reasonable to infer that they were acting out of
retaliatory animus. Without facts showing that these
defendants were motivated to retaliate against him because of
the former lawsuit, this complaint does not state a claim.
it is possible that Mr. Williams has additional facts which
he did not include in this amended complaint. Therefore he
will be given the opportunity to file one more amended
complaint. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014
(7th Cir. 2013). This amended complaint must be limited to
his claims that Superintendent Ron Neal and Executive
Assistant Howard Morton retaliated against him by denying the
restoration of good time credits because he filed a lawsuit.
If he files another amended complaint, he needs to provide
facts (not guesses, speculation, or legal conclusions)
showing that Ron Neal and Howard Morton were motivated to
deny the restoration of his good time credits because he sued
the former superintendent. It is not sufficient to merely
re-allege that they denied the restoration of his good time
credits after he sued the former superintendent. If Mr.
Williams has no additional facts to add, he should not file
an amended complaint. If he does have additional facts, he
can obtain a copy of this court's approved form -
Prisoner Complaint (INND Rev. 8/16) - from the prison law
these reasons, Jerome Williams is GRANTED until April 20,
2017, to file an amended complaint and CAUTIONED that if he
does not respond by that deadline, this case will be
dismissed without further notice ...