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Parker v. Evans

August 9, 2006

LEE HOLDEN PARKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN EVANS, WILBUR PURSELL, B. WINGERTER, SHERRY BENTON, LT. WILLIAMS AND PHILLIP BAKER, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has filed a motion for permission to file a complaint that is in excess of the page-limitation set forth in local rules (Doc. 8); this motion is GRANTED.

In this action, Plaintiff lists six separate counts, one against each Defendant. However, each claim is essentially the same: all six Defendants conspired to deprive Plaintiff of his wheelchair for a period of six months, and that said conspiracy was undertaken in retaliation for a lawsuit Plaintiff attempted to file in this District. Although Plaintiff mentions other incidents such as confiscation of personal property and assignment to a cell not designated as non-smoking, his prayer for relief is clear: he seeks damages "for the unjustified and deliberate medical indifference of a six month confiscation of [his] wheelchair." Thus, the complaint boils down to two legal claims: that Plaintiff was deprived of his wheelchair in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment, and that Defendants violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by retaliating against him for his complaints and litigation.

WHEELCHAIR DEPRIVATION

The complaint does not specify exactly why Plaintiff has need of a wheelchair. However, he states that he is a "medically designated, custody approved, wheelchair bound inmate" (Doc. 1, p. 2). Without his wheelchair, he was falling down in his cell, and he had difficulty getting to the showers and the recreation yard.

The Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). The Seventh Circuit's decisions following this standard for deliberate indifference in the denial or delay of medical care require evidence of a defendant's actual knowledge of, or reckless disregard for, a substantial risk of harm.

Neglect of a prisoner's health becomes a violation of the Eighth Amendment only if the prison official named as defendant is deliberately indifferent to the prisoner's health -- that is, only if he 'knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.'

Williams v. O'Leary, 55 F.3d 320, 324 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 993 (1995).

Applying these standards to the allegations in the complaint, the Court is unable to dismiss this claim against any Defendant at this point in the litigation.

RETALIATION

Sometime in 2004, Plaintiff prepared a lawsuit against 46 individuals in the I.D.O.C., which he wished to file in federal court; that lawsuit purportedly sought certification as a class action and alleged a vast conspiracy of financial corruption, inmate abuse, and violation of inmates' constitutional rights.*fn1 As stated above, Plaintiff believes that the confiscation of his wheelchair was done out of retaliation for his preparation of that lawsuit.

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). Naming the suit and the act of retaliation is all that is necessary to state a claim of improper retaliation. Id.

In light of these standards, the Court is unable to dismiss this retaliation claim against any Defendant at ...


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