The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID HERNDON, District Judge
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
(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
(b) Grounds for Dismissal. On review, the court
shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the
(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).
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 assigned him to a
top bunk without a step ladder to assist him in getting up and
down, causing Plaintiff to reinjure his collar bone. Defendant
Evers threatened to place Plaintiff in segregation after he
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).
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 has
failed to state a claim. He states that ...