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October 19, 2005.

GWENN HALE, Plaintiff,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL REAGAN, District Judge


Plaintiff, a former inmate in the Lawrence Correctional Center, 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 Barron, Baylor, and Bice for failure to protect Plaintiff from assault by another inmate, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
COUNT 2: Against defendants Wilson, Hodges, Stafford, Teverbaum, Watson, and Thomason for unconstitutional retaliation against Plaintiff for filing grievances.
  This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:
(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). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds that no portion of this complaint may be dismissed at this point in the litigation.


  In his complaint and "more definite statement" (Doc. 9) Plaintiff states that he was assigned a new cellmate in October 2003. Plaintiff believed that the new cellmate, Henderson, intended him harm. Plaintiff states that he informed "multiple" staff members at Lawrence Correctional Center of his fear of harm at the hands of Henderson, but staff "continuously remained aloof, belligerent, and scornful of the Plaintiff's requests to be celled away from Henderson." On November 1, 2003, Defendants Barron and Baylor put Henderson in segregation (it is not clear whether or not the placement was a result of Plaintiff's complaints) but he was brought back after only fifteen minutes. On November 6, 2003, Henderson assaulted Plaintiff. Plaintiff states that Defendants Baylor, Barron, and Bice knew of Plaintiff's complaints about Henderson, but did nothing to prevent the assault.

  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, Plaintiff's claim that Defendants failed to protect him from assault by inmate Henderson cannot be dismissed at this point in the litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


  The rest of Plaintiff's allegations are somewhat difficult to decipher. Plaintiff states that after the assault, a number of negative actions were taken against him. In his "more definite statement" he indicates that he believed the various actions were taken against him in retaliation for complaining about the incident. Plaintiff states that after the assault, Defendants Hodges and Stafford refused to separate Henderson and Plaintiff, rendering Plaintiff fearful of another attack and leaving Henderson "in charge of Plaintiff's food, causing great abuse and horror" to the Plaintiff. Plaintiff also states that Nurse Parker (not a defendant) refused Plaintiff any treatment for his injuries, but that later Nurse Dickerson and Dr. Gonzales (not defendants) found evidence of "swelling" and reported that Plaintiff was in "obvious pain."

  Plaintiff states that he was interviewed by Internal Affairs staff, but that no records of the assault were ever made by Defendants Henson (not a defendant), Thomson, Wilson, or Hodges. Internal Affairs did not secure medical evidence regarding the attack. Plaintiff states that after his complaints and grievances regarding the assault, other staff, "harassed, goaded, and threatened Plaintiff to the point that Plaintiff believed himself, his safety, and that of his family hopeless." Plaintiff states that from November 18, 2003, until his transfer in March 2004, he was abused by staff in the following ways. C/O Wolfe (not a defendant) struck him in the lower back. Defendants Teverbaum and Watson refused to let him contact his family by telephone, even after he received word that his brother was missing. Other defendants (not named) tampered with and altered his mail. Defendant Thomason harassed Plaintiff by telling him that he was pretending to be injured and by threatening him when he could not "keep up with the line" because of his injuries. Plaintiff states he was interviewed three times by Internal Affairs about the attack and was "ridiculed" by them and eventually had a "retaliatory disciplinary report" brought against him.

  Prison officials may not retaliate against inmates for filing grievances or otherwise complaining about their conditions of confinement. See, e.g., Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005 (7th Cir. 2002); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607 (7th Cir. 2000); Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d 267 (7th Cir. 1996); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139 (7th Cir. 1988). Furthermore, "[a]ll that need be specified is the bare minimum facts necessary to put the defendant on notice of the claim so that he can file an answer." Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002).

  Based on these standards and Plaintiff's allegations, this claim may not be dismissed at this point in the litigation. See 28 ...

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