(CN) – In a series of rulings, the 7th Circuit tackled the “three-strikes” rule barring prisoners with a history of filing frivolous or malicious lawsuits from obtaining a court order waiving their filing fees.
Corey Taylor and Gregory Turley filed separate lawsuits challenging the conditions of their confinement.
Taylor claimed that guards and employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections contaminated his food, tampered with his mail, deprived him of sleep and assaulted him.
He had previously incurred three “strikes” for litigation that had been dismissed as frivolous or malicious, or that failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted.
When a federal judge refused to waive the filing fee, Taylor argued that his latest case fell under an exception for inmates in “imminent danger of serious physical injury.”
The Chicago-based federal appeals court refused to revive his claim, saying “it has never been the rule that courts must blindly accept a prisoner’s allegations of imminent danger.”
But in its same-day ruling in Turley’s case, the 7th Circuit determined that Turley had not actually “struck out” under the three-strikes rule and was thus eligible for a fee waiver.
Turley sued officials at the Menard Correctional Center last October, accusing guards of retaliating against him for filing grievances about his prison conditions. He claimed he was the target of physical assaults, threats, trumped-up disciplinary charges and unjustified solitary confinement.
Like Taylor, Turley claimed that his lawsuit fell under the “imminent danger” exception to the three-strikes rule. He also insisted that his earlier lawsuits should not be considered “strikes” because some of his claims survived, even if others had been screened for failure to state a claim.
The 7th Circuit initially seemed to agree, reviving Turley’s bid for a fee waiver. But the next day, the court withdrew its opinion without comment, saying the appeal “remains under advisement.”