210 F.3d 375 (7th Cir. 2000), 97-4197, Pursley v. DeTella

Docket Nº:97-4197.
Citation:210 F.3d 375
Party Name:Patrick PURSLEY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. George DETELLA, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:March 03, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 375

210 F.3d 375 (7th Cir. 2000)

Patrick PURSLEY, Plaintiff-Appellant,


George DETELLA, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 97-4197.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 3, 2000

Submitted February 18, 2000. [*]

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA7 Rule 53 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 96 C 6686. Ann Claire Williams, Judge.

Before Hon. JOHN L. COFFEY, Hon. JOEL M. FLAUM, Hon. MICHAEL S. KANNE, Circuit Judges.


In October 1996, Patrick Pursley and fellow inmate Herb Byers filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaining of constitutional violations during a prison-wide search for contraband known as a "shakedown." The district court dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and Pursley alone now appeals. Because some of his allegations are sufficient to state a claim, we vacate and remand in part, and affirm in part.

The following facts are drawn from the complaint. During an August 1996 shakedown at Stateville Correctional Center, guards removed Pursley and Byers from their cells and subjected them to body-cavity searches while making demeaning remarks. Defendant Schonauer then searched Pursley's cell while defendant Dowell searched Byers's cell. Among the items they confiscated were Pursley's manuscript of a novel he had worked on for over two years and intended to publish, Byers's screenplay based on Pursley's manuscript, and a contract for the sale of Byers's screenplay. Defendant Smith supervised and approved the actions of Schonauer and Dowell during the shakedown. To no avail, Pursley and Byers filed grievances and sent letters to the warden, defendant DeTella, seeking the return of their writings.

In October 1996 Pursley and Byers brought this suit alleging that the four defendants violated their First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and demanding the return of the manuscript and screenplay, declaratory relief and damages. In dismissing under § 1915A prior to service, the district court reasoned:

The Supreme Court has previously held that an inmate does not have a constitutional claim for the random unauthorized taking of property as long as the state provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533-36 (1984). Because the Illinois Court of Claims provides the plaintiffs with an adequate post-deprivation remedy against the defendants, they have no constitutional claims for confiscation of their property. Stewart v. McGinnis, 5 F.3d 1031, 1035-36 (7th Cir.1993).

The district court made no mention of Pursley's and Byers's First and Fourth Amendment claims.

Pursley and Byers each asked the court to reconsider. Although also disputing the resolution of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims, Pursley stressed that the court had mischaracterized his allegations as "a simple property claim" when in fact his complaint plainly stated that the defendants' actions infringed his right to free speech under the First Amendment Contending that the defendants had intentionally thwarted publication of his manuscript, Pursley alleged that the shakedown slip identified the manuscript as a fictional story, and that only later did the defendants describe the work as gang literature. Moreover, Pursley alleged that the defendants reclassified the manuscript as gang literature without sending it to the literature review committee. Finally, Pursley argued that the defendants never gave him an opportunity to send the manuscript home before it was purposely destroyed. Byers, who also reiterated many of Pursley's allegations and arguments, acknowledged in his motion for reconsideration that his screenplay had been returned but cited this as evidence that the defendants could not have truly Pursley's novel as gang literature. The district court denied both Pursley's and Byers's motions for reconsideration, citing its original order dismissing the complaint. Pursley's appeal is now before us. He argues that his complaint was erroneously dismissed because the district court misconstrued his claims.

We review de novo a § 1915A dismissal for failure to state a claim. See Sanders v. Sheahan, 198 F.3d 626 (7th Cir.1999). The district court...

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