CHICAGO (CN) - A prison doctor may be liable for retaliating against the inmate accused of sending him feces through the institutional mail, the 7th Circuit ruled.
Lamonte Dixon, a prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center, says he was accused of sending an envelope full of feces to the prison's mental health administrator, whom his complaint identifies only as Dr. Tolley.
Dixon claimed he was wrongly accused, but a prison review board allegedly found him guilty of misuse of property and sentenced him to one month in segregation. Dixon objected to the finding by filing a grievance with the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Shortly afterward, Tolley retaliated against Dixon by placing him on "predator status," based on a false claim that Dixon had sneaked into a cell to have sex with another inmate, according to the complaint. Dixon said he was given more time in segregation.
He claimed that Tolley's actions violated his First Amendment right to file a grievance, but a federal judge found the case "legally frivolous."
Reversing Monday, the 7th Circuit said that "the District Court misunderstood the punishment being challenged."
"Dixon argues that the district court erred because it 'misconstrued the chronological statement of facts' and failed to acknowledge his retaliation claim. He insists that he seeks damages only for Tolley's decision to place him in 'predator status' after he filed a grievance about her role in punishing him for sending the envelope," the three-judge panel said in an unpublished decision.
Precedent bars an inmate from bringing a civil rights suit if he was disciplined with the loss of good-time credits, but "does not apply to an inmate who was punished only with segregation," the court concluded.
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