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McSwain v. Hendren

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

April 18, 2017

ANTOINE McSWAIN, Plaintiff,
v.
MRS. S. HENDREN Correctional Officer, MR. REID Sergeant, MRS. RINEHART Sergeant, MRS. P. GUFFEY Screening Officer, MR. M. SPURGIN Captain, MR. ANDREW COLE Assistant Superintendent of Re-Entry, MR. WAYNE SCAIFE Facility Designee-Disciplinary Appeal Officer, DUSHAN ZATECKY Superintendent, MR. ROBERT D. BUGHER Staff Counselor, MR. LT. MARVELL Lieutenant, Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING IN FORMA PAUPERIS STATUS, DISMISSING COMPLAINT, AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          LARRY J. McKINNEY, JUDGE

         Plaintiff Antoine McSwain, an inmate in the Putnamville Correctional Facility, commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on April 7, 2017, alleging civil rights violations against ten Indiana Department of Correction officials. The Court makes the following rulings:

         I. In Forma Pauperis Status

         Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis, dkt. [3], is granted. An initial partial filing fee of twenty-two dollars and thirty-two cents ($22.32) shall be paid to the Clerk no later than May 19, 2017. Notwithstanding the foregoing ruling, the plaintiff owes the entire $350 filing fee. “All [28 U.S.C.] § 1915 has ever done is excuse pre-payment of the docket fees; a litigant remains liable for them, and for other costs, although poverty may make collection impossible.” Abdul-Wadood v. Nathan, 91 F.3d 1023, 1025 (7th Cir. 1996).

         II. Screening

         A. Legal Standard

         Because plaintiff is a prisoner, the complaint is now subject to the screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). This statute directs that the court dismiss a complaint or any claim within a complaint which “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id.

         To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; instead it is a means for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred. Ledford v. Sullivan, 105 F.3d 354, 356 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). “[T]he first step in any [§ 1983] claim is to identify the specific constitutional right infringed.” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Constitutional claims are to be addressed under the most applicable provision. See Conyers v. Abitz, 416 F.3d 580, 586 (7th Cir. 2005).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff's claims concern a disciplinary action he was subjected to in April, 2015, when defendant Officer Hendren lodged a sexual harassment disciplinary charge against him. Plaintiff brings claims against Officer Hendren and nine other corrections officials because of their commencing and handling of the disciplinary matter or their actions taken because of it. Below is a summary of the claims plaintiff makes against each defendant:

(1) Officer Hendren -- for commencing a sexual harassment disciplinary action against him, plaintiff asserts claims for gross negligence, emotional distress, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution. Dkt. 2, p. 4, ¶ 16.
(2) Sgt. Reid -- for urging Officer Hendren to pursue a disciplinary action against him, plaintiff asserts claims for gross negligence, emotional distress, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and false light. Dkt. 2, p. 4, ¶ 17.
(3) Lt. Marvell -- for taking away plaintiff's prison job before he was found guilty of Officer Hendren's disciplinary complaint, plaintiff asserts a claim for malfeasance. Dkt. 2, p. 4, ¶ 18.
(4) Sgt. Rinehart -- for not dismissing Officer Hendren's disciplinary complaint when he reviewed it, plaintiff asserts claims for gross negligence, abuse of process, and ...

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