United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY GRANTING MOTION TO RECONSIDER, SCREENING AND
DISMISSING COMPLAINT, AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO SHOW
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
Motion to Reconsider Initial Partial Filing Fee
October 27, 2017, motion to reconsider, dkt. , is
granted. The Court will screen
plaintiff's complaint without requiring the payment of an
initial partial filing fee before doing so. Notwithstanding
the foregoing ruling, plaintiff still owes the 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). Accordingly,
a separate order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b) for the
collection of the filing fee is being issued. Plaintiff's
prison trust account financial transaction reports reflect
that he sometimes has monthly income that will support the
payment of the filing fee in installments, although he may
not currently have any funds. See dkts. 6-1 &
Screening of the Complaint
plaintiff is a prisoner, the complaint is subject to the
screening requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This
statute directs that the court shall 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 satisfy the
notice-pleading standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, a complaint must provide 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)); see also Wade v. Hopper, 993
F.2d 1246, 1249 (7th Cir. 1993) (noting that the main purpose
of Rule 8 is rooted in fair notice: a complaint “must
be presented with intelligibility sufficient for a court or
opposing party to understand whether a valid claim is alleged
and if so what it is.”) (quotation omitted)). The
complaint “must actually suggest that the plaintiff has
a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Windy
City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin.
Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir.
2008)). The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally, and
holds pro se pleadings to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v.
Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
Lester Watson brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action
against Wendy Knight, the Warden of the Correctional
Industrial Facility, and Kim Stafford, a person named only in
the caption of the complaint but otherwise unidentified.
Plaintiff asserts his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights
are being violated because the prison assigns him a security
classification of Level 2 while he believes he should be
assigned Level 1. He asserts the erroneous classification is
due to two arrests he had in 1982 and 1994 for sex-related
crimes, but for which he was never charged or convicted.
Plaintiff asserts that the erroneous classification violates
Department of Correction policies and Indiana statutes, and
that he has a liberty interest in being correctly classified.
Court will liberally construe plaintiff's complaint,
assessing whether he presents a viable ground for relief
under either the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment or a liberty interest protected by the due process
clause of the Fifth Amendment.
have traditionally had wide discretion in classification of
prisoners' security levels. “Classification of
inmates is a matter of prison administration and management
with which federal courts are reluctant to interfere except
in extreme circumstances.” Jones v. United
States, 534 F.2d 53 (5th Cir. 1976); Young v.
Wainwright, 449 F.2d 338, 339 (5th Cir. 1971). Plaintiff
has plead no facts to suggest that his classification at
Level 2 was based on any class protected by the Fourteenth
Amendment. Absent extreme circumstances implicating
classification decisions targeting a protected class, there
is no viable Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim in
order for the due process clause to be applicable, there must
be a protected liberty interest created by state law or
regulation. Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 223-24
(1976). Thus, the inquiry in this cause must begin with an
analysis of whether plaintiff had any liberty interest in the
minimum custody status for which he applied within the
meaning of the due process clause.
inmates generally have no constitutionally protected liberty
interest either in avoiding a particular security
classification, Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238
(1983), Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236 (1976),
Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. at 223-24, or being
assigned to any particular security classification.
Kincaid v. Duckworth, 689 F.2d 702 (7th Cir. 1982).
every state action carrying adverse consequences for prison
inmates automatically activates a due process right.
Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 86-88 (1976);
Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. at 224. Indiana has placed
the decision to change the security classification of
prisoners, with some exceptions not applicable here, solely
within the discretion of the Department of Correction. Thus,
any expectation an inmate may have in being considered for a
lower security clearance is too insubstantial to rise to the
level of due process protection. Meachum v. Fano,
427 U.S. at 228; Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. at
243; Lucien v. DeTella, 141 F.3d 773, 774 (7th Cir.
1998) (security classifications implicate ...