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Lambright v. Grage

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

June 6, 2018

KRISTOPHER LAMBRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
CRAIG GRAGE, et al. Defendants.

          ENTRY SCREENING AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, United States District Court Judge

         I. Screening Standard

         The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Westville 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

         First, the complaint alleges that the plaintiff arrived at the Reception and Diagnostic Center, in Plainfield, Indiana, on April 11, 2018, with a copy of his petition for post-conviction relief and supporting brief. Through the intake process, he was only permitted to keep the brief but not the petition. For the next several weeks, the plaintiff attempted to obtain the petition. He contacted defendants law librarian Officer Aidoo, Executive Assistant Rosebery, Warden Grage, Deputy Warden B. Bennett, and Classification Supervisor Crawford. The plaintiff also filed a grievance. On April 25, 2018, he got a copy of his petition. He then began requesting that his petition and brief be notarized. He contacted Officer Aidoo and Executive Assistant Rosebery. It was notarized and mailed on May 1, 2018.

         Several days later, Executive Assistant Rosebery spoke to the plaintiff about the grievance he filed regarding obtaining a copy of his petition. Rosebery brought a document for the plaintiff to sign indicating his grievance was resolved. The plaintiff still wanted the grievance logged but did not notice until later in his cell that the grievance was not logged. The plaintiff alleges this conduct by Rosebery is a violation of his access to the courts and an effort to hamper his ability to file his petition for post-conviction relief pursuant to the First Amendment. He also alleges a violation of the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments based on these facts.

         Second, the complaint alleges he was denied access to the law library to work on a case from Dekalb County, Indiana, that was negatively impacting his classification level, an amended petition for post-conviction relief, and to research two federal lawsuits. He wrote to the defendants and filed a grievance on May 3, 2018. He alleges he was never permitted access to the law library the entire time he was at the Reception and Diagnostic Center.

         Third, the complaint alleges that the plaintiff requested but was never given a kosher diet. He wrote to the Warden, Deputy Warden, and the Chaplain. The plaintiff also filed a grievance on April 20, 2018. The plaintiff alleges a violation under the First Amendment.

         Fourth, the complaint alleges that the plaintiff's incoming and outgoing mail was tampered with while he was incarcerated at the Reception and Diagnostic Center. The plaintiff alleges that he received his mail with no problems until he filed his first grievance and then he started experiencing problems with his mail. He alleges a violation under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments.

         The plaintiff also names as defendants an unnamed food service supervisor, an unnamed mail room supervisor, and the Indiana Department of Correction. He is suing each defendant in their individual and official capacities. He seeks monetary damages.

         III. Insufficient Claims

         Tthe plaintiff's access to the courts First Amendment claim is dismissed for failure to state a claim. “Prisoners have a fundamental right of access to the courts that prisons must facilitate by providing legal assistance.” In re Maxy, 674 F.3d 658, 660 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Bounds .v Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977)). At the same time, however, prisoners do not have an “abstract, freestanding right to a law library or legal assistance.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). Thus, to prevail on an access-to-courts claim, a prisoner must “submit evidence that he suffered actual injury-i.e., that prison officials interfered with his legal materials-and that the interference actually prejudiced him in his pending litigation.” Devbrow v. Gallegos, 735 F.3d 584, 587 (7th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). The plaintiff admits in his complaint that his petition for post-conviction relief was notarized and mailed on May 1, 2018. As such, the defendants ...


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