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BROWN v. MADISON COUNTY

August 8, 2005.

JERAMEY R. BROWN, Inmate #B24735, Plaintiff,
v.
MADISON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, BOB CHURCHICH, BOB HERTZ, WILLIAM HAINE, WILLIAM MUDGE, JAMES HACKETT, JOE GULASH, BOB HOLLENBECK, KEITH JENSEN, MIRIAM F. MIQUELON, DEPUTY HILL, DEPUTY LEMARR, AND UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES FOREMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a former inmate in the Madison County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff previously was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and he has tendered his initial partial filing fee as ordered.

To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(f) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate to break the claims in plaintiff's pro se complaint and other pleadings into numbered counts, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

 
COUNT 1: Against Defendants Hertz, Gulash, Hollenbeck, Churchich, Miquelon, and Madison County for violating Plaintiff's First Amendment rights by refusing to provide pork-free meals, in accordance with his religion, during the two-year period he was detained in the Madison County Jail.
COUNT 2: Against Defendants Lemarr and Hill for failing to intervene to stop a fight between Plaintiff and a jail inmate and against Defendants Churchich, Hertz, Gulash, and Madison County for failing to properly separate detainees.
COUNT 3: Against Defendants Hill and Lemarr for failing to provide adequate medical care to Plaintiff after the fight.
COUNT 4: Against Defendants Gulash, Hollenbeck, Churchich, Hertz, Miquelon, Hackett, Madison County, and unknown defendants for violating Plaintiff's due process rights by placing him in disciplinary segregation without a hearing.
COUNT 5: Against Defendants Gulash, Hollenbeck, Churchich, Hertz, Miquelon, Hackett, and Madison County for restricting Plaintiff from access to his legal materials as punishment for the October 7 fight, in violation of due process and Illinois statute, and for preventing him from taking his legal papers with him when he was transferred from the jail to an Illinois prison.
COUNT 6: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Madison County, Jensen, Churchich, Haine, and Mudge for conspiring to deprive him of his liberty by moving him to a cell near another inmate who had frequently been used as a trial witness by Madison County prosecutors and who in fact was a prosecution witness in the criminal case against Plaintiff. Plaintiff also contends that a number of "plants" were placed near him in the jail (or he near them) with the intention of eliciting information against him to be used by the prosecution in his criminal case.
  This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:
 
(a) Screening. — The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal. — On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint —
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). After evaluating plaintiff's claims individually, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under Section 1915A to dismiss those claims that are frivolous before allowing plaintiff to proceed with his remaining claims. See also House v. Belford, 956 F.2d 711, 718-19 (7th Cir. 1992).
General Considerations

  To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Generally, confinement of pretrial detainees may not be punitive, because "under the Due Process Clause, a detainee may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt." Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979). Thus, conditions of pretrial confinement must be "reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective." Id. at 539. See also Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995); Brownell v. Figel, 950 F.2d 1285 (7th Cir. 1991). At the same time, "[t]he conditions of imprisonment, whether of pretrial detainees or of convicted criminals, do not reach even the threshold of constitutional concern until a showing is made of `genuine privations and hardship over an extended period of time.'" Duran v. Elrod, 760 F.2d 756, 759 (7th Cir. 1985).

  COUNT 1

  Plaintiff states that he is a Muslim and his religion prohibits him from eating pork. Plaintiff states that Defendants Gulash, Hollenbeck, Miquelon, Churchich, Hertz, and Madison County refused to provide him with a pork-free diet while he was detained in the Madison County Jail. Plaintiff states that after he complained about being denied pork-free meals, Defendant Gulash told him that it was the policy of the jail that a detainee must inform the booking officer upon being processed into the jail that he is a Muslim in order to receive a pork-free diet. A detainee would not be allowed later to profess his religion and receive pork-free meals. Defendant Gulash told Plaintiff that no exceptions would be made.

  A detainee's right to exercise his religion "does not evaporate entirely when he enters a jail." See Tarpley v. Allen County, Indiana, 312 F.3d 895, 898 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 n. 2 (1972)). However, the detainee's right "is not unfettered." Tarpley, 312 F.3d at 898. Prison restrictions that infringe on an inmate's exercise of his religion are permissible if they are reasonably related to a legitimate penological objective. See Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89-91 (1987); O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 348-49 (1987). Based on these standards, Plaintiff's claim that Defendants violated his first amendment rights cannot be dismissed at this point in the litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

  COUNT 2

  Plaintiff states that on October 7, 2002, he was out of his cell in the disciplinary segregation unit, cleaning the cellblock and passing out cleaning supplies to other detainees. He got into a verbal altercation with inmate Anthony Turner who was locked in his cell at the time. Defendant Lemarr witnessed this argument. A short time later, Defendant Lemarr, against jail policy regarding how many detainees may be out of their cell at the same time, let Turner out of his cell. Turner attacked Plaintiff, who was still out of his cell cleaning, and struck him with a mop wringer and a piece of wood. Plaintiff states that Defendant Lemarr allowed the fight to continue for five minutes before attempting to intervene. After several more minutes Defendant Hill came to the scene and sprayed a chemical agent in an attempt to break up the fight. Plaintiff also states that Defendants Churchich, Hertz, Gulash, and Madison County are liable for violating Plaintiff's rights because they did not follow Illinois state law in keeping detainees (Plaintiff) separated from inmates (Turner).

  In Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994), the Supreme Court held that "prison officials have a duty . . . to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners." Id. at 833 (internal citations omitted); see also Luttrell v. Nickel, 129 F.3d 933, 935 (7th Cir. 1997). However, not every harm caused by another inmate translates into constitutional liability for the corrections officers responsible for the prisoner's safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. In order for a plaintiff to succeed on a claim for failure to protect, he must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm, and that the Defendants acted with "deliberate indifference" to that danger. Id.; Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d 849, 852 (7th Cir. 1999). A plaintiff also must prove that prison officials were aware of a specific, impending, and substantial threat to his safety, often by showing that he complained to prison officials about a specific threat to his safety. Pope v. Shafer, 86 F.3d 90, 92 (7th Cir. 1996). In other words, defendants had to know that there was a substantial risk that those who attacked Plaintiff would do so, yet failed to take any action. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 733-34 (7th Cir. 2001). Based on these standards, the Court is unable to dismiss any portion of the complaint at this point in the litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

  COUNT 3

  Plaintiff states that as a result of the above-noted fight with another inmate, he suffered numerous injuries to his face, mouth, head, hands, and back. His eyes, nose, and mouth were irritated from the chemical spray, and he had difficulty breathing. Plaintiff states that immediately after the fight, he was taken to "the hole," a small concrete cell without running water and inadequate ventilation. Plaintiff made numerous requests to Defendants Hill and Lemarr to be allowed to shower to rid himself of the chemical spray, but ...


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