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Banks v. GRW Tri-County Detention Center

November 10, 2005

JASPER B. BANKS, INMATE #N52539, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GRW TRI-COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, ADMINISTRATOR WOZNIAK, CAPTAIN FURLOW, LT. EVERS, SGT. CAVINS, AND SGT. TURNER, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a former inmate in the Tri-County Detention Center in Ullin, Illinois, 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 defendant Tri-County Jail for causing a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff by placing him in overcrowded jail conditions, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

COUNT 2: Against Defendant Wozniak for keeping Plaintiff in segregation for an extended period of time without due process.

COUNT 3: Against Defendants Cavins, Turner, Wozniak, Furlow, and Evers for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

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).

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff makes a number of general allegations regarding the conditions at the Tri-County Detention Center, namely, that the jail is overcrowded, it is in a state of disrepair, that it has inadequate ventilation, that the recreation area is unsafe, and that the inmates are not separated by status for housing purposes. Plaintiff states that the overcrowding presented a substantial risk of serious harm to him because jail officials would not be able to protect him "in time of disturbances within the cell blocks or in time of fire and other nature disasters and in fostering and allowing prisoners to be repeatedly threatened by the mixing of dangerous felons and are being placed in the same cell blocks as persons charged with violent crimes."

Plaintiff states that in December 2002, he was injured in a car accident. He was taken to Union County Hospital where his injuries--minor cuts and bruises, and a possible broken collar bone--were treated. Shortly thereafter he was transported to the Tri-County facility. Plaintiff states that upon his arrival, he asked Defendant Cavins for a blanket and medical attention for the injuries to his neck and collar bone. He was told that he would not receive any attention until he agreed to have another set of fingerprints taken. Plaintiff states that Defendant Turner denied him a phone call to his attorney, denied him medical care, and shut off the water in his cell, telling him that he would not receive anything until he provided another set of fingerprints. Shortly thereafter, Defendants Wozniak, Furlow, and Evers came to Plaintiff's cell and told him that if he provided another set of fingerprints, he would be taken to a warmer cell where he would be allowed to take a shower, use the phone, and watch television. He gave the fingerprints, and was taken to segregation.

Plaintiff remained in segregation for several weeks. On January 5, 2003, he asked a Lieutenant Meadows (not a defendant) why he was in segregation and how long he would be required to stay. Meadows replied that he was in segregation at the decision of Defendant Wozniak. On January 7, 2003, Plaintiff was placed in the general population. He was housed in a cell where he had to sleep on the floor. After he was placed in general population, he made requests to Nurses Michael, Paula, and Richard (not defendants) to see a doctor, all of which were denied. At one point, Nurse Richard gave Plaintiff a copy of his Union County Hospital records to show him that there was nothing wrong with him. Plaintiff states he wrote grievances requesting medical care, but they were not acted upon. Finally, Plaintiff states that Defendant Evers ...


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