United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
CHRISTOPHER M. GRADY, Plaintiff,
JEFF HARKER, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
M. Grady, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a Complaint [ECF
No. 1]. “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)
(internal citations and quotations omitted). Nevertheless,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this Court must review
the complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. “In
order to state a claim under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 a
plaintiff must allege: (1) that defendants deprived him of a
federal constitutional right; and (2) that the defendants
acted under color of state law.” Savory v.
Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).
Complaint, Grady alleges that Rachel A. Bentz and Kristen
Coleman illegally sold goods purchased from Wal-Mart at the
commissary at the Jay County Jail. When Grady reported this
misconduct in writing, Jail Commander Harker responded that,
if Grady felt that the commissary goods were too expensive,
he should feel free not to return to jail or to not purchase
them and that Sheriff Ford agreed with Harker. When Grady
reported the illegal sales to Harker in person, Harker placed
Grady in a maximum-security cell and disallowed visits from
his fiancé. Grady personally informed Sheriff Ford of
the illegal sales practices and that he had been wrongly
punished, but Sheriff Ford turned a blind eye. For his
claims, Grady seeks money damages and injunctive relief.
asserts a claim against Rachel A. Bentz and Kristen Coleman
for the illegal sale of goods. While the sale of goods at the
commissary may have been illegal, it is unclear how these
sales practices violated Grady's constitutional rights.
There is no constitutional right to purchase commissary
goods, nor is there a right to purchase commissary goods at a
particular price. See Owens v. Dir. IDOC, No.
16-cv-00457-MJR, 2016 WL 2957938, at *2 (S.D. Ill. May 23,
2016) (holding that high prices for commissary goods do not
violate the Constitution); accord Henry v.
Blagojevich, No. 10 C 3683, 2010 WL 2680531, at *2 (N.D.
Ill. 2010) (citing Robinson v. Illinois State Corr. Ctr.
(Stateville) Warden, 890 F.Supp. 715, 718 (N.D. Ill.
1995)); Brown v. Gulash, No. 07-cv-370-JPG, 2009 WL
2144592, at *5 (S.D. Ill. July 16, 2009) (collecting cases).
Because Grady does not explain how Bentz and Coleman violated
his constitutional rights, he cannot proceed against them.
asserts a First Amendment claim against Jail Commander Harker
for placing him in a maximum-security cell and removing his
visitation privileges in retaliation for reporting the
illegal commissary sales and against Sheriff Ford for turning
a blind eye to Jail Commander's misconduct. “To
prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim, [a
plaintiff] 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). “[A] prison inmate
retains those First Amendment rights that are not
inconsistent with his status as a prisoner or with the
legitimate penological objectives of the corrections
system.” Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 822
(1974). The complaint states a plausible claim of First
Amendment retaliation against Jail Commander Harker and
also asserts a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process
claim against Jail Commander Harker and Sheriff Ford for
placing him in a maximum-security cell and removing his
visitation privileges without due process. For procedural due
process claims, a plaintiff must show: (1) a deprivation of a
protected liberty or property interest; and (2) the absence
of constitutionally adequate procedural safeguards in
connection with the deprivation. Pro's Sports Bar
& Grill, Inc. v. City of Country Club Hills, 589
F.3d 865, 870 (7th Cir. 2009). “Whether a prisoner has
a liberty interest implicated by special confinement relies
on whether the confinement imposed an atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the
ordinary incidents of prison life.” Hardaway v.
Meyerhoff, 734 F.3d 740, 743 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal
quotations omitted). “Although relatively short terms
of segregation rarely give rise to a prisoner's liberty
interest, at least in the absence of exceptionally harsh
conditions, such an interest may arise from a long term of
confinement combined with atypical and significant
hardships.” Id. Here, Grady does not state how
long he was in a maximum-security cell or describe any
hardships except for the removal of visitation privileges.
Because Grady does not allege significant and atypical
hardships, he cannot proceed on a procedural due process
final matter, Grady seeks injunctive relief to prevent the
Defendants from continuing the illegal sales practices at the
Jay County Jail. “If a prisoner is transferred to
another prison, his request for injunctive relief against
officials of the first prison is moot unless he can
demonstrate that he is likely to be retransferred.”
Higgason v. Farley, 83 F.3d 807, 811 (7th Cir. 1996)
(internal quotations omitted). Because Grady now resides at
the Plainfield Correctional Facility, his request for
injunctive relief is moot.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS Christopher M. Grady leave to proceed on a First
Amendment claim for money damages against Jeff Harker and
Dwane Ford for placing him in a maximum-security cell and
removing visitation privileges in retaliation for his report
of illegal sales practices;
DISMISSES Rachel A. Bentz and Kristen Coleman;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DIRECTS the Clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process on Jeff Harker and Dwane Ford at the
Jay County Jail with a copy of this Order and the Complaint
[ECF No. 1] as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); and
ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Jeff Harker
and Dwane Ford to respond, as provided for in the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 10-1(b), only to
the claims for which ...